Family Gardening – In the Literal Sense

Family gardening really means family gardening in this story about a tiller, a 9-year old, and a new baby sister.

Oh! The joys of family gardening. I realize that might sound a little sarcastic, but I’m being serious. I love gardening with my family. It’s gives us a chance to spend time together outdoors, with the sun overhead, warm soil at our feet, and the reward of delicious fruits, herbs, and vegetables nearly all year long.

Along with all of those happy moments, we’re also making (hopefully!) wonderful memories that our daughter will one day look back on with love. She may or may not remember the details of transplanting tomatoes or pruning the apple tree, but I trust she will remember spending time together.

That’s sort of the case in today’s story, Pull, I Mean, Push! from writer Kevin Kimpel. He and his mom enjoyed gardening together, and in a new home, the two of them “planted our dream garden. Dad had no interest in yard work. He did a great job taking care of the house, but the yard was Mom’s and mine.”

But Kevin’s most prominent memory isn’t of the garden they planted. Nor is it about the food they harvested. Not even close. When Kevin looks back to 1971 and gardening with his mom, what stands out most to him is the tiller they used. There’s a very good reason for that, though! As the subtitle points out, “a tiller can help you deliver!”

Enjoy This and More Stories About Family Gardening Adventures

This story comes from our archive that spans over 30 years and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. I love pieces like these that remind us that we often harvest much more than just fruits and vegetables in the garden. I hope you enjoy this story as well.

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Pull, I Mean, Push!

How a tiller can help you deliver.

By Kevin Kimpel

I was 9-1/2 years old in April, 1970 when my family moved from our two-bedroom home on a tiny city lot to a brick foursquare on three acres of land. It was a compromise between my urban-raised Dad and my farm-raised Mom. We were still in the city limits, but all the homes along the road had deep lots. One neighbor even had grandfathered-in horses—manure for the taking!

The long-time owners of the stately home had been avid gardeners, but the family we bought it from had allowed the garden to revert to lawn. So that first Spring, Mom hired a neighbor to till up a big area for our vegetable garden, and she and I planted our dream garden.

Dad had no interest in yard work. He did a great job taking care of the house, but the yard was Mom’s and mine. (We did let Dad pull the weeds in the gravel driveway.) Mom decided to buy a tiller over that first Winter so that we didn’t have to hire the neighbor to plow up the soil. But by Spring of 1971, when it was time to prep the garden, there had been a change of status at home. Mom was expecting.

Dad was not home on Thursday afternoon, April 29th, and I wanted to get the garden tilled. I tried in vain to pull the cord on the tiller, but my spindly arms and my 90-pound frame did not have the humph to get it going. So I called on Mom. She gave it a few pulls, it started, and I was off tilling.

The next morning while getting ready for work, Mom decided that the back pain she was feeling might be labor pains. So Dad took her to the hospital. At 8:30 a.m., while Dad was still filling out the hospital paperwork, my kid sister was born. She was healthy and fine—just two weeks before the original due date.

Our family lore ever since maintains that my sister’s birthday was determined by me, an eager 9-year-old gardener.

I kept that tiller until just a few years ago and would routinely offer to let expecting friends give it a tug when they were ready to deliver. No one ever took me up on the offer. That’s their mistake because in the Kimpel household, everyone knows that pull leads to push.

By Kevin Kimpel, published originally in 2022, in GreenPrints Issue #129. Illustrated by Tim Foley

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What kind of family gardening stories do you have? I’d love to read them in the comments below!


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