From the Sperry Garden – October, 2009

Alex has enjoyed growing vegetables in his garden at our house, both in the spring and this fall. We were planning just Saturday about how we would expand it a bit for 2010.

Here are the things I hope Alex learned from his first garden this year:

• Planning. Space is limited. You have to choose plants carefully. Limit your crops to those that you and your family really like. Start small. Alex enjoyed his garden of five tomatoes, three peppers and two rows of beans. It can enlarge as he’s ready.

• Responsibility. These plants are dependent on their caretaker for water, fertilizer, pest control and even harvest. Alex’s fall tomatoes will have to be covered if we have early frosts. I may have to step in to help if he’s not here that day.

• An appreciation of nature, specifically of farming, and the challenges farmers face as they feed and clothe the world. It’s not always easy being a gardener here in Texas, and Alex now understands that.

• Patience. Kids are used to instant rewards. It takes a while for a seed or tiny transplant to grow into a producing vegetable. Young gardeners learn life at a different pace. We all can benefit from that lesson!

• Reward. Alex has harvested his vegetables, and he’s brought them in to his grandma. The family dined on the fruits of his labors, and Alex raked in the plaudits.

• And finally, Alex and Grandpa had some great time together. I remember my very first garden. I was 8 (just like Alex). My dad was right there beside me. He brought the tools, and he turned the soil. He sprayed the bugs, and he staked the plants. I helped, but probably not as much as I remember. But, the important thing was that it was my garden, and those were my beans I took in to my mother. My dad stood off to the side and simply smiled. I learned from the best. Maybe Alex will pass it along later.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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