published Monday, March 31st, 2014

Grand Thoughts: Dirty hands bring joy

My husband loves gardening. Years ago, he bought an acre of land about six miles from our house where he grows most every vegetable (and some fruits, berries and sunflowers) that can be grown in the South. What our family and friends don't eat, he sells to local restaurants. We also have a spacious garden in our yard. Gardening is my husband's passion, and he loves sharing his knowledge with anyone who wants to learn.

The acre garden was christened "Tilleigh Sue Farm" in honor of our oldest granddaughter, 7-year-old Tilleigh. Four years later, when our second granddaughter, Evie, 3, was born, he named the pumpkin garden "Evie Mae Pumpkin Patch."

Maybe this year we'll add "William's Herb Garden." William is our 18-month-old grandson.

But one thing we're definitely going to do this year is set aside a space for the grandchildren to grow their own vegetables. They will be involved in every step of the process, from tilling to planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and, ultimately, patience.

Obviously, the children -- especially William -- will work in the garden under the constant guidance of an adult. For the girls, it will be a learning experience; William will consider it play.

It's a win/win situation. They'll get to play in the dirt for extended periods of time and, in the end, they'll be rewarded with delicious food. Meanwhile, they'll be outdoors, learn a lifelong skill and appreciate eating the healthy food they grew with their own hands.

Though the girls are very familiar with the process, especially harvesting, it will be a learning experience to have them involved in every process from now through early fall. We're going to let them choose the vegetables they like best.

According to eartheasy.com, children are more gratified with vegetables that are easy to grow, have short growing seasons and are easy to harvest -- lettuce/mescluns, radishes, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, bush beans, carrots, potatoes and pumpkins. Flowers that are easy to grow are sunflowers and nasturtiums.

Children's gardening tools can be bought, ranging from rakes, shovels, hoes and wheelbarrows. We already have a child's rake and shovel and an inexpensive plastic wheelbarrow.

I will document the entire project with photographs so the grandchildren will be able to see their accomplishments from beginning to end.

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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