Today’s guest post is by a Master Gardener here in Texas (McLellan County) who manages the helpful Central Texas Gardener website. Melody a former homeschooler, too, and she has a new e-book out over on Amazon.com, Cool-Season Gardening in Texas.
I have spent a good deal of my life teaching others about gardening. The delight of it all is just something I have to share. Gardening gives us a chance to renew ourselves as we work in the soil and nourish plants. I can still remember the wonder I felt as a child when my father planted his first garden in our backyard. He let me help him plant the seeds in neat rows in the sun-warmed earth. I would go out each day and watch for the first signs of new life growing in the garden. I can remember these first moments in the garden as if it were yesterday instead of over 40 years ago. How exciting it was to discover the tiny little seedlings as they emerged into the world! We watered and hoed and cared for them as they grew. I eagerly awaited the harvest. Never had any vegetable tasted as wonderful as our fresh garden produce. I never forgot the joy of being nourished both physically and spiritually by that first garden.
Master Gardeners often work to create gardens for schools. The children are delighted with the results of their gardening adventures. Our school gardens have both vegetables and flowers. The children are given the opportunity to create beauty and to grow their own food. Some of these children come from underprivileged neighborhoods and their school garden is the most beautiful thing in their lives. These children need the opportunity to understand that with a little hard work and diligence, they can create something beautiful and nourishing.
I believe that there is a great opportunity for parents to involve their children in the creative process of gardening. They can become enthusiastic participants in growing their own vegetables. Children who work in a garden learn about respect for nature as the parents teach them about the interconnectedness of all things.
When I homeschooled my youngest child, we found that the garden provided many opportunities to learn. We learned geometry skills as we learned to figure the square footage of a new garden bed. This was an opportunity to see how math is used on a practical level—something that is often overlooked in public schools. Biology study came alive as we studied the insects, plants, and small animals that interacted in the garden. We learned the nutritional value of growing fresh vegetables. With a little imagination, gardening can be a pathway to many fields of study. A child can study art by drawing the flowers in the garden, history as he studies how learning to grow grain affected the development of civilization, and a host of other worthy studies limited only by your imagination.
How do you integrate your garden into your homeschool routine?
Author Melody Fitzgerald says that she is “the president of a government marketing firm, but my favorite activity is getting outside to garden. I have raised four wonderful children. I have been involved in homeschooling, community education, literacy, and teacher training in technology in school districts across Texas.”
Image modified from vintage graphic courtesy of The Graphics Fairy.