You may remember that last month we announced an essay contest in which participants were asked to write about a young gardener. Today we are pleased to announce the winning entry was written by Sharon Reed. Sharon chose to write about her nine-year-old grandson, Fisher. Here is her letter and a picture of one of Fisher’s favorite places in the garden.
I am a Master Gardener and provide advice to many gardeners in the community, but the most important gardener to me is my young grandson, Fisher. He is nine years old, and not a ‘veggie’ person so I thought if I gave him some responsibility for my vegetable garden I could create some enthusiasm for eating the vegetables we grew. We planted rows of tomatoes, peppers, beans, squash, edamame, strawberries, corn, pumpkins, sunflowers and gourds.
At first it was a challenge to get him interested and away from the Wii games he loves to play. But with a lot of encouragement, he became interested. We planted our plants and seeds, then covered each row with newspaper covered with grass clippings. Soon we began to see our plants getting bigger and new plants emerging. My grandson, Fisher, watched closely the new plants, until he spied a garden toad. He loves toads and other garden critters. We made a hypertufa ‘toad house’ placing it in the middle of the garden. Fisher visited the ‘toad house’ each time he worked in the garden. He was able to see the pathways created by his friend, the toad, that enabled the toad to get to various parts of the garden under the mulch. He was also fascinated by the family of bluebirds that nested in the bird house in the center of our garden. He would visit the house regularly checking on the babies.
As the weeks went by, I would find Fisher in my garden. He was ‘taking care’ of the strawberries, or so he said, but I found his face was always stained with strawberry juice. When the peas began to ripen, he could be found in the pea patch, shelling pea pods, but he was eating them as fast as he could. So I marked this as a success, my grandson will eat strawberries and PEAS. Aha, a vegetable! As time went by, we harvested some ‘flying saucer’ squash and some ‘red kernel’ sweet corn. We prepared the squash on the grill along with the corn. Fisher enjoyed both of these veggies as well. He had a lot of fun picking tomatoes and peppers, but he did not eat them. Maybe next year. He did not enjoy the time we spent digging potatoes until he found one that looked like a duck. He was excited about the ‘duck’ potato, and wanted to take some of the harvest home to his mother.
Anytime we had guests, he quickly took the lead on the ‘family garden tour.’ He would tell the guest all about the plants, how they grew, what the plant needed for water and sun, the produce the plant would provide, even how to cook and eat the produce. He would show everyone the toad house and the bird house. He learned so much this year. I know we created a summer garden but more importantly we created lasting memories that far outweigh the initial purpose of getting Fisher to eat and enjoy vegetables.
Congratulations to both Fisher and Sharon! Fisher will receive a prize package of a CobraHead, a Garden Padd kneeler, and a copy of the book “Good Bug, Bad Bug” by Jessica Walliser. Sharon will receive a gift certificate for $25 off an order at CobraHead.com. Many thanks to all who participated!