gardening and landscape

The Year of the Garden and What We Learned

2020 sure has been the year of the garden, hasn’t it?

You thought I was going to say the year of bread making, didn’t you? Well, that too.

So many people seem to have a renewed interest in growing all manner of fruits, veggies, herbs, and other plants while stuck at home with extra time on their hands during a global pandemic.

Or maybe they just like dirt under their fingernails?

That’s probably it.

It definitely has been the year of the garden for our family.

I don’t think we would have dove into gardening so heavily if this had been a normal year.

Drastic times called for drastic measures like learning how to grow our own food, apparently.

I’m glad we did though.

Store-bought lettuce doesn’t even compare to a salad made from lettuce you picked fresh from the garden.

There’s nothing like salsa made with flavorful, homegrown heirloom tomatoes and spicy jalapeño peppers.

Nothing beats any cut of meat paired with crisp tender green beans you grew yourself.

The fact that we were actually able to grow our own food isn’t what surprised me.

Well, it surprised me a little bit.

What surprised me about our first heavy foray into gardening was the intangible benefit, particularly for one of my children.

So much has been taken away from our kids during this global Covid-19 pandemic: in person learning, play dates, travel, sports, extra curricular activities. Even Disneyland was shut down for awhile!

Seriously, the happiest place on earth had to be shut down too?

What’s next? Dining inside a restaurant?

Oh. Never mind.

Gardening, for one of my children, ended up being a gift.

It took up plenty of time, for which we had extra. Not having anywhere to go really frees up your calendar, doesn’t it?

Gardening is a practical hobby that extends outward to benefit everyone, not just the gardener. How many hobbies can you say that about? How many kids can experience that deep satisfaction of being able to surprise and delight a neighbor with a bowl of tomatoes they grew?

Gardening was the perfect way to immediately learn cause and effect without even needing your parents to nag you about what happens if you miss a day of watering in the summer.

It also sparked that insatiable quest for knowledge on gardening topics such as growing cycles, harvesting techniques, pest control, and more. Kids can’t remember to pick up their socks, but they know it takes 80 days to harvest a tomatillo. Go figure.

Gardening is a pleasant way to practice delayed gratification. How often do kids these days have to wait 80 days to reap the rewards of their efforts while not even knowing if they will like tomatillos? Not often enough in this world centered around instant gratification.

Perhaps the most important thing gardening gave this child was a sense of accomplishment and a self-confidence boost. I can’t underscore the importance of that enough.

garden salad with bread year of the garden

I always assumed my kids would like what I liked in terms of childhood activities like sports and music.

Hahahahahahaha! Nope.

Thankfully, I’ve been of the mindset that trying new things should be encouraged. Boy, have my kids tried a lot of things in a quest to find something to do that they are passionate about, that gives them purpose, and challenges them in all the best ways.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve asked my children what their favorite part of any of these activities was. It could have been soccer, ballet, roller skating, fencing, guitar, art class, coding camp, etc.

Do you know what their response would be?

Snack time!

I am not sitting on the side of a cold, wet soccer field at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning so that my kid can get a CapriSun and a bag of Doritos. We can do that at home!

As it turns out, I don’t have very competitive children. I’m not sure how two parents who have a deep competitive streak ended up with two children who don’t have a competitive bone in their bodies, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out before anyone else does.

All that to say, I was shocked that gardening clicked with this particular child. In retrospect it isn’t surprising given this child’s personality, but since it isn’t an activity that brings me particular happiness it took a pandemic to add this to the list of “things for my kids to try.”

Thanks, Covid. I think?

Even in the most trying times there is usually a bright spot and the year of the garden ended up being that for us.

What’s up next for us on the garden front?

This winter Handy Husband and the kids will be experimenting with hydroponic gardening in our basement grow tent!

Yes, we have a grow tent in the basement. This vegetable gardening thing has become a  very serious hobby! At least for now, but I do hope it sticks.

We have the TopoGrow 2-in-1 Indoor Grow Tent 60″X48″X80″, but they make a slightly smaller one too.

A grow tent needs LED grow lights.

While we used regular planters inside the grow tent, we also used fabric pots. They are reusable and fold flat when not in use. Supposedly the fabric keeps plants warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. They worked great for our tomatoes and scallions.

We just ordered this VIVOSUN Hydroponic Grow Kit to go inside the grow tent. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. It will be an interesting experiment, that’s for sure.

*affiliate links in this blog post*

Thanks for reading about the year of the garden! I’d love to know if you enjoy gardening or if you’re like me and enjoy the results of someone else’s gardening. I do know there’s a strong chance you’ll enjoy one of these other blog posts! 

The Great Garden Misunderstanding

Our Irish Garden

A Poison Garden (and a castle too in Ireland)

The Tale of 3 Houseplants

3 Unexpected Succulent Planters

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