“Whatcha doing, Dad?”
Planting some peas and onion sets.
“Can I help?”
Sure, just let me finish tilling up the garden.
“Can I make the row?”
Sure, make it right over here by the fence.
“How long should I make it?”
Make it the whole length of the garden.
“How far apart should I plant the seeds, Dad?”
About an inch or so.
“Like this? Now what do we?”
Now we cover them over and tamp them down.
Yes, like that.
“When do we plant the geraniums and tomatoes, Dad?”
In another month or so when it’s warmer.
“Can I have my own garden?”
Sure, you kids can each have a space to plant.
“Mom, do you have a spoon?”
“To dig with and plant geraniums.”
Okay, but bring it back when you’re finished.
“Dad, how do you get your tomatoes to grow so big?”
… And that’s how kids learn to garden.
My tomato plants have never been as big as those I remember my Dad growing. Maybe I was smaller? Maybe Dad had a secret, and didn’t have a chance to tell me what it was?
It’s been 25 years, an entire lifetime since my Dad planted a garden.
That last spring, he planted the peas and onion sets and then died
before it was time to plant his geraniums and tomatoes. I planted my first garden in my first yard that same spring. I was shocked at how small my tomato plants were compared to his. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten my tomato plants to grow as large as I imagine his tomato plants grew.
It’s okay, I’ll keep trying, and maybe this will be the year I’ll have bigger, earlier tomatoes, like Dad used to grow. Goodness knows, if I take advantage of this early spring, the way he would have, I might.
I’ll plant a pot of red geraniums, too, just like Dad used to grow, to remind me how I really learned to garden, how I learned to love to garden, all those years ago.