Sunday, February 22, 2015

On Your Marks, Get Set, Garden!

Every year, after the last frost (or at least what I hope is the last frost), when the evening temperatures are in the 50s and the daytime temperatures are in the 80s, I get excited. It is time to start gardening, and boy do I love gardening! This weekend I decided it was time to add some new strawberries to my strawberry bed, so I visited my local nursery. I bought the strawberries, and only the strawberries, but on the way home I knew that I had been bit by the gardening bug.

Big A and Little E helping out

I rediscovered something about local nurseries. While I love large home improvement stores, and I also regularly buy from their garden sections, they are not necessarily stocked with plants and trees that will thrive in that area (thank you Rosie on the House for that wonderful, eye-opening piece of information). Most local nurseries, however, purchase only what can grow in that region. While this may not be as helpful for those of my readers who are in more temperate regions of the world, it is very important for those of us in Phoenix. We have a unique climate that can make gardening a little tricky. Local nurseries provide the local plants and expertise to help you be successful. Aside from this, my experience has been that everything at the local nursery is either priced the same or lower than what I find at the home improvement stores.

What two- and four-year-olds don't like dirt?
So while my wife took our six-year-old to a birthday party, I had a gardening day with the younger two. We went back to the nursery (Summer Winds Nursery is my new favorite local Arizona nursery) and loaded up with fruits and vegetables (actually, I was somewhat restrained and only got an apple tree, two tomatoes, and some basil. But I wanted to load up with a lot more). While at the nursery, my four-year-old kept pointing to fruit and vegetable seedlings and identifying them. I was getting such a kick out of her enthusiasm, and several of the nursery employees commented on this as well. One gentleman said that he was so excited to see kids get enthusiastic about gardening at such a young age. I wanted to stay at the nursery all day and continue to load up the cart, but I figured we had enough to keep us busy for the day, so we headed home to get our hands dirty.

No special effects used for shovel/kid ratio
We spent the day planting, playing in the dirt, composting, and picking lemons (we've picked close to 400 pounds of lemons so far this year, with many, many more still on the tree. If you live in the Phoenix area and would like free lemons, just leave a comment here or on Facebook). Most importantly, we spent quality time together. Because as much as I love gardening and being outside, I love spending time with my family that much more. Gardening with my kids is well worth the crushed baby strawberries, the plants planted a little too deep, the worms that are accidentally dropped down my shirt, and the "sword fighting" with pieces of PVC.

This is the time of year that I absolutely love being a Renaissance Dad. 

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