I love that my kids always want to help me with my garden. Even when they plant the seeds too close together and I have to replant them…even when they step all over the green beans while trying to pick strawberries…even when they freak out at the sight of an earthworm but still want to see what it feels like. That they love to be outside instead of only playing video games or watching TV makes me happy.
From an early age I had an affinity for all things outdoors, and I still do. When I was in elementary school I had a small collection of gardening books that I would read over and over again in an attempt to memorize all of the names of the plants that I liked. That didn’t work out so well; the scientific names tripped me up a bit.
I’m fairly certain that my interest in gardening is at least in part genetic. My dad grew vegetables on and off while I was growing up, but he was never really consistent from year to year. It was my granddad (my dad’s dad…who we affectionately called Papabear) who was serious about the gardening. He continued to work outside with his plants right up until he passed away at the age of 92. He was passionate about his garden, and he was really good at making things grow well.
Going to see Papabear was usually one of the highlights of my summers. As we drove up to north Texas, I would sit in the back seat and try to imagine all of the good food that was in store. He was a retired chef so every meal was exceptional. Supposedly, I didn’t always enjoy everything I ate there. The story goes that once (when I was too young to remember) I saw some cherry tomatoes on the counter, and I begged my mom for one. She tried to warn me that it wasn’t what I thought it was, but I persisted. The cherry tomato left my mouth nearly as quickly as it entered, and to this day I tolerate tomatoes but don’t really like the flavor, even though they are a staple in my spring/summer garden every year.
Probably the most memorable part of Papabear’s garden was the Giant Sunflowers that he grew. That is a tradition that I have continued in my own garden every year since Papabear passed away in 2010.