Spending time in a garden with an older loved one can be so rewarding! You’ll both come away with new memories and perhaps eventually some good things to eat!
There’s still a real chill in the air even though it’s February and I live in the Sacramento Valley. It’s been months since I’ve been able to putter in the garden. I miss digging in the dirt and seeing the plants grow from day to day. Something about February makes me dream about spring when I can watch the garden grow.
A lot of us are so connected to growing things. If you’re like me you come from folks who lived off the land. It must have in some way got into my blood. I love a garden. I love picking the food I’m going to eat and knowing where it came from. It connects me to all my grannies who always had a garden and fed their families by the sweat of their brow. I’m not different from so many older women who long to dig and putter and watch an empty garden bed turn into a luscious, bountiful harvest.
Farm to fork? Okay, but I love what comes in-between!
Our ancestors knew that growing a garden was not only the way to feed your family but to feed your soul as well. What could be more healing than digging in the dirt, pushing a tiny seed into the earth and watching it grow each and every day. It confirms that life goes on. It stirs hopes of delicious food. It strengthens our bodies and keeps our minds sharp. It’s also a way to share something we know with those we love.
Kids in the Garden
When my kiddos were little I would drag them along with me into the garden. My oldest two would tolerate a little time in the garden but my youngest seemed to know that the garden was a magical place. He’d dig for me and once even saved me from a big old snake hiding under a rock. We grew pumpkins together and just had such fun spending time together on something we both loved.
Now it’s my grandkids who love to come to my garden. They pull carrots and start chewing even before they dirt has been washed off. I’m not worried. It’s my garden and chemicals are not allowed on one speck of the two acres.
Gardens Take Me Back to My Childhood
The first garden I can remember was my Granny’s in Oklahoma. I can remember the damp smell of the growing plants and the birds singing over my head. I can see granny looking at each plant, pulling a few weeds and watering each one. The red dirt just seemed to come alive under her hoe. I know that’s when I fell in love with gardens, especially after we hauled the produce in and she worked another kind of magic in her kitchen. Okra and sweet potatoes, tomatoes and squash — oh they tasted like each dish came straight from heaven.
I hope I never get too decrepit that I cannot at least have some veggies growing in a pot just outside my door. That would be too much to take.
Gardening with your older folks is a way to connect with who they really are — who they’ve been and where they also fell in love with a garden. Many of the assisted living communities are finding out that gardens are a way to keep their residents happy and healthy. What could be bad about spending some time in the fresh air and sunshine while working the dirt.
This year I’m having a big garden so my daughter can bring over the boys and plant to her heart’s content. She always has a tiny one at her house in town, but her boys are getting big and they’ll love coming out to help. New gardens — new memories — new traditions. Perhaps someday my grandkids will have fond memories of me in my garden.
Don’t let the spring come and go without planting a little something with an elder you care about. The harvest will be sweet and the time spent — unforgettable.