When the Family Garden Plan Doesn't Go To Plan

Kids love gardening, but they aren't always quite on board with the family garden plan, which can lead to hilarious results.

My daughter loves gardening. It’s a great activity for kids, too, since they’re outdoors getting fresh air, being active, and learning that patience pays off – especially with some vegetables like asparagus! Sometimes we even sit together in the evenings or on rainy days and work on our family garden plan.

For me, of course, this means thinking about things like how much sun a particular plant needs or what might grow well together. For her, well, I think the family garden plan might depend on what seems fun on that particular day. I understand that. There are plenty of days when I’d happily give up some of the digging and weeding!

And sometimes, even with a solid family garden plan in place, those plans can change on a whim when there’s a preschooler involved. Such is the case in this story, by Barbara Vosburgh. In Instant Salad Garden, Barbara shares how two carefully planned gardens (one for the family and a small one for her daughter) became one interestingly “organized” plot full of salad greens!

I think this passage hints at the fun in this story: “OK, Deb, time to plant our seeds! Let’s—” The seed packets were not where I’d left them. “Debbie, where did our seeds go?”

You can probably imagine! This story just goes to show that even the most well-planned garden is still at the mercy of both nature and the excitement of young gardeners.

A Family Garden Plan Is Almost Always Good For a Few Stories

This story comes from our archive spanning over 30 years, and includes more than 130 magazine issues of GreenPrints. Pieces like these that imbue the joy of gardening into everyday life lessons always brighten up my day, and I hope it does for you as well. Enjoy!

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Instant Salad Garden

By Barbara Vosburgh of Gardner, MA

One lovely spring day, I decided it was time to introduce my preschool daughter to the wonderful world of gardening. Our arms full—shovel, rake, spade, hose, seeds, string, and stakes—we headed to the rototilled area. I carefully roped off a four-foot-square area for her own garden.

“Debbie, rake out the rocks and weeds while I work over here,” I said. I handed her a child’s rake and she started the job.

While she was working in her area, I raked the large garden evenly and laid out straight rows for the seeds. When I finished, I looked behind me—and saw Debbie with her new toy golf club hitting her ball up, down, and through all my work. “I finished, Mommy!” she said with a big smile. “Now I’m golfing!”

I let out a deep sigh. “Honey, let’s get a bucket, and you can put all your rocks in it.” As Debbie started putting rocks in the bucket, I once again painstakingly laid out my straight rows.

“OK, Deb, time to plant our seeds! Let’s—” The seed packets were not where I’d left them. “Debbie, where did our seeds go?”

She pointed to her garden. She’d spread all our seeds over her little plot. “I planted them, Mommy!” she said with a proud smile.

I sighed again, deeply, then gently grabbed her hand. “Come on, Deb. We have to go to the garden shop for more seeds.”

That was almost 40 years ago. But you know what? It worked. Whenever we wanted salad that spring, we went out to Debbie’s garden, reached down, and pulled up a handful of whatever we touched. We had some interesting mixtures!

By Barbara Vosburgh of Gardner, MA, published originally in 2017, in GreenPrints Issue #109. Illustrated by Linda Cook Devona

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Have you ever had a family garden plan that turned out much differently than you imagined?


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