The Importance of a garden

Not a lot happened for once this weekend.  We had plenty of rain and by Saturday during a light drizzle a few of us decided to sit outside and let the rain fall while we had a picnic lunch,  Crazy?  Yes, probably, but we didn’t melt.  We each brought something different out to share and my fresh cherry and blueberry crumble went over well.   It’s funny because none of my neighbors are vegetarian yet they never asked what went into the crumble only saying it was the best they had tasted in a long time.

Tasted so much better than it looks.

Tasted so much better than it looks.

One of the neighbors brought up how wonderful it was to taste my strawberries this year as he only ever buys his from the store.  I think this is sad.  He suffers from many health issues and would benefit greatly, I believe, from a healthier diet and foods he enjoys as much as he did the strawberries and the crumble.  It got me thinking about the children who have never known fresh food.

When children are exposed to gardens and fresh foods they will try many foods out of curiosity that they wouldn’t other wise try.

Needed to try a spring onion.  Verdict:  it tasted like black pepper.

Needed to try a spring onion. Verdict: it tasted like black pepper.

But not only will they try whole foods by seeing them grown, they will prefer those tastes to store-bought and fast food choices.  What you may not expect is to see  such joy as some will show when they realize a favorite food is now ready to pick and eat. My granddaughter’s favorite lettuce is romaine.  Here’s what we caught when she spotted I had bought romaine lettuce at the farmer’s market.


Have you ever seen a child this excited about a vegetable?

Have you ever seen a child this excited about a vegetable?


Of course if you love something this much there is no stopping a snack, bowls aren’t needed.

I can think of much worse snacks for her to want.

I can think of much worse snacks for her to want.


But with craving and choosing healthier options  comes a deep appreciation for the natural world.  We can’t harm a bug, and she got quite  laugh when a bee landed on her toe for a few seconds.  Her response was “it’s okay he’s just looking for nectar” How many children at age 4 would know what a bee was looking for if not exposed to gardens and explained the need for the insects and worms found there?


With all the rain we have had slugs have been found every where, she makes sure to pick them up out of the parking lot and take them to “join their family”, her term for placing them in the grassy area where other slugs are at.   She does know I would rather they aren’t in my garden and will carefully remove them and carry, yes even slugs, to another area of the field.  Worms are carried to the flower or vegetable beds.

Even slugs need to be respected.

Even slugs need to be respected.


Not everyone will have a huge field like I do to let children play in the dirt and plant their own gardens, but even a container with a couple of edible plants they can watch mature and eat from will start them on the path to better eating and respect for nature.  It’s a gift that can change their lives.  You may find them enjoying this more than TV or video games.

Hanging like a monkey

Hanging like a monkey

I still feel badly for my neighbor who is in his mid 40s and never had fresh grown food before I shared a bowl of strawberries with him this summer.


What crosses your mind when you encounter a child, or adult, who has never tasted fresh homegrown foods?


18 thoughts on “The Importance of a garden

  1. Hi Lois! Thanks for all the great reminders about having your own garden. I started mine a couple of years ago and now can’t imagine life without it! Of course we live in the desert so our growing season starts in the fall and extends to the spring….so nothing is happening right now. But honestly, I think it is so important to remember that there are a dozen or more solid reasons of why eating healthy food, being in nature, growing your own food, and working with soil makes for a happier life. Or I like what Ron Finley says, “Growing your own food is like printing your own money.” Thanks for the great photos and inspiration! ~Kathy

    • Kathy, I hadn’t heard that quote from Ron Finley, but it’s very true. I have looked at the money I’ve saved just from what my garden has produced so far and can’t begin to imagine how I would have bought it all. Some things like berries come back each year so there is only that one time investment from which you can eat from for years to come. I think your garden produces on the exact time table you need. You avoid the heat by traveling in the summer so no reason your garden shouldn’t have a break too. :-) I do think I will have to raise my beds for next year in case we have as much rain, I might be able to save a few plants that way, but it’s all a learning curve, what I go get always exceeds what I put into it in money terms.

    • Lynn, it really is sad. I wish I could grow enough to give most of it away to feed those who have never had fresh food before. Unfortunately I can’t so I share what I can.

  2. We started a garden last year, and love it! Being in San Diego, CA, we can really grow anything and everything year round. I am shocked and alarmed at the few people I know who say they don’t like fruits or vegetables. How is that possible? Really? Nothing? Weird.

    • Stephanie, I am so jealous of you, but having lived in California in the past it’s not for me, but I do wish we had a longer growing season here. I can see some people not liking some vegetables if they are used to processed foods or have only tasted store bought vegetables, but fruit! I could live on fruit alone!! What are you growing in your garden?

      • We have in our garden currently: kale, zucchinis, tomatoes, green beans, chives, sage, cilantro, beets, purple basil, oregano, arugula, butter lettuce, cantaloupe, strawberries, and we have honey tangerine tree. I’ve also recently planted some rose bushes and other flowers, inspired by a friend who always brings us beautiful bouquets from her garden. Its such a nice gesture! I hear, very infrequently, that CA isn’t for some people, especially if they like seasons, big cities, or prefer wide open spaces.

        • So you live outside the city? You have quite the garden going I’m impressed. I lived in California for 13 months but made the mistake of moving to LA, I missed the greenery from PA and couldn’t take the traffic jams on the freeways. I did drive down a couple of times to visit San Diego and liked the outer areas, it was a breath of fresh air after being in L.A. But once entering the city I was lost, I like the country too much. Right now California is just too expensive for me.

          • Lol, yes in Poway, where the slogan is “A city in the country.” There is a population cap and horses are still used as transportation. I was born in LA & dreaded visiting family up there; the traffic is horrendous! I haven’t been to PA, but I bet it’s beautiful!!! It certainly looks that way from your pictures!

          • Then you know exactly how I felt living in L.A. :-) PA is gorgeous there are only a couple of large cities in the entire state. My home town was considered the third largest city in the state when I was growing up with a population of less than 100,000. My daughter-in-law was born and raised in Phoenix AZ, when her mother flew in to visit her here the first time she got off the plane shocked at how much land was undeveloped. There really are only a couple areas developed enough to be classified a city, one on each corner and then Harrisburg in the middle.

  3. Your Granddaughter Lois is becoming to be a chip off the old block if you will excuse the pun LOL..
    Made me smile at the Bee on her toe… I told you we had a bees nest in our home garden didnt I.. if I didnt then we have common bumble bees, And my granddaughter was counting them in and out the other day..
    But what will make you laugh is that we found a snail after the rain on the patio, I picked it up as it was quite large and put it up upon a small wall around our water feature.. She went excitedly to watch is crawl, I thought she would get fed up, but No, she crouched down then asked me to bring her small garden chair.. Where she sat patiently watching it – predicting where it would go and watching the snail trail where it had been… She watched it disappear into the plants eventually and said He is home now mama.. :-) so loved this moment…

    Its so good that they grow up knowing where their food comes from, and not afraid of bugs slugs and snails… lol
    It must be crumble week. LOL I made a Blackberry one yesterday, from last years berries we are clearing out of the freezer ready for this years new crop.. :-)

    Enjoy your week… I hope your weather is kinder.. We have had lots of heavy thunderstorms and heavy rain again this week, but very warm still…
    Love Sue xox

    • Sue, I knew you had bees, but you didn’t share the story of your granddaughter and the snail until now. Our granddaughters would so enjoy each other, it’s too bad we live so far apart that we can’t introduce them. My granddaughter will watch the worms as they move around in the garden the same way. She is mesmerized by the natural world. It is great that she has these moments with you. Don’t you notice things differently through her eyes, I do through the children?

      It must be crumble week. I ended up making a peach one last night and have about 3 more peaches I can make another. It’s one dessert I love and doing it right is healthy too. I can’t wait until our blackberries come in, they are so far behind this year. I can’t wait until I can say I’m cleaning out my freezer next year. :-)

      I think we are sharing weather patterns again. Still cold and rainy here and expected to be like that most of the week. We were planning a yard sale this weekend but are postponing it until next weekend in hopes of better weather. Hope you have a great week, Sue.

  4. It makes me sad to think some people my not have had the experience of growing and tasting fresh food. It has always been a big part of my life. It also reminds me of the work that goes into it. Growing up, I spent many long, long hours and days working in the garden and freezing and canning vegetables. I can’t say that those were fun times, but important in learning the value of hard work.

    • It makes me sad as well, I have been sharing my garden with some of the neighbors to show them what real food tastes like. I would love it if a few of them who are shocked by the flavors in the home grown will join in next year and plant a few things too. Anyone who gardens here shares with the other gardeners so it would increase what they would end up with. Even if I’m not outside neighbors bring me their extras when they gather the ripe foods. It’s nice to have a meal made from the backyard. I agree it’s not always fun when your days are taken up with the work of preserving your harvests but it’s a wonderful thing to have the foods in the winter months and seems to make it all worth while in the end.

  5. Gosh… I always wanted a garden as a child but the closest I ever got was the year my mother reticently agreed to let me plant a few carrots. They only got to be about 2-3 inches long, but I thought they were wonderful – dirt and all! The neighbors had a garden though, and I have fond memories of eating snow peas fresh from the vine.

    But somehow I got the idea that “real food” couldn’t be grown at home. Like you could grow 2 inch carrots, but not “real” carrots. The same applied to fruit. We all had crabapple trees, but the idea that you could grow “real” apples seemed impossible.

    Anyhow, when I was in my mid-20’s my Ex and I took a trip to Mexico. We drove down and along the way stayed with some friends of his in Phoenix. They had a ruby red grapefruit tree in their front yard, and at breakfast time I was handed a long stick with a cage on the end and told to go out and pick a few grapefruit. I was incredulous… you mean “real” grapefruit just grow on trees? Not some miniaturized horrible tasting variety?

    But sure enough, I came in with a half dozen big beautiful sweet grapefruit that were even more delicious than anything I’d ever gotten from the store… just growing there on a tree! I was really blown away by the experience and in a funny way it sorta changed my life. I mean, of course I knew that grapefruit grew on trees, but I guess I just thought that you needed some sort of very special and technical situation to do it “for real.” The idea that “just anybody” could grow “real” food was completely life altering for me. Thanks for reminding me of that story!

    • Cat, some where in my brain I thought you were a self-taught gardener, I’m not sure what gave me that impression. I’m sorry your mother didn’t provide you with a garden growing up I think you would have loved it. With the gardens here, and the neighbors inviting the kids to help in theirs as well as mine, these little ones are never far from the gardens. They take breaks, mostly to climb trees, but the first thing they do when the arrive is check each bed to see how they are coming. I’m glad you had a neighbor who shared with you.

      I miss fresh grapefruit from Arizona, peaches from Georgia, and other things we can’t grow here. I still remember my grandmother bringing home oranges and grapefruits from Arizona when I was little, we got stopped at the border and they wouldn’t let her bring any citrus out of the state. We drove to a store and bought a cooler and several large containers then sat in a parking lot and squeezed them, all of them. She was not leaving the state without her fruit even if it had to be in juice form.

      It’s sad the assumptions we make about food when we aren’t exposed to a garden. I’m glad you got to sample fresh grapefruits as they are so delicious!

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