With Thanksgiving behind us, leftovers gone, the kids have returned to school for their lessons. And lessons they learned, especially in the garden. As any experienced gardener knows, leaving a garden untended invites all sorts of drama. Weed overgrowth, bug infestation, disease infection — it’s enough to send you running for the hills.
But hold on cowboys and grab your hats, these students aren’t your average gardeners. No, no! They’re tough and determined (brave enough to endure the chill of Florida’s winter) and they have a job to do. Weed warriors, begin!
Besides all that exciting stuff, it’s harvest time (code for: time to reap our rewards). Yay! Is there a better time to be in the garden?
No boys and girls, there isn’t! Harvest time is when you FINALLY get the chance to reap the bounty from all your hard work and reap these kids did — all while learning valuable lessons about reproduction. “How does a plant continue to grow without the help of a gardener?”
Good question. How about we take a look for ourselves. Since our pole beans are the first vegetables ready for harvest, I cheered, “Everybody, start plucking!” Woohoo! A dozen kid pulling from the vine–now it’s a harvest party!
“Open up your beans and let’s look inside.” Ooohs and aaahs all around. “Perfect. These beans are ready to eat. But what happens if there are no gardeners with voracious appetites?” (You can use big words like voracious with these kids because they’re educated.)
“The pods will dry on the vine like those brown ones,” I said, indicating the dried and shriveling pod. Passing it around, we discussed the differences between the pods we plucked and this pod I picked. “Left unpicked, this bean will dry and the pod will shrivel up until the day it pops open and spits the beans out onto the ground. Really! I’ve seen it happen. Pop!”
Now that I have their full attention, I explain how the beans ultimately make their way into the soil and prepare to sprout anew. Here’s a neat video presentation of the life cycle of a bean. And the best part? “You guys get to eat your beans for snack this morning!” Hoorays and leaps for joy. “Yep. You have to wash them first, but then you can eat your first organic bean. The one you grew yourself!”
I think I’ve discovered the secret to getting kids to eat vegetables. Have the kids grow them! Talk about excitement over snack time–you’d think we were talking chips and Cheetos, but no, we’re talking healthy greens. Warms a parent’s heart, I tell you. Pure joy.
The kids will also collect some beans for drying, preparing them for planting come spring. It’s a great way for them to take an active part in the life cycle of a bean plant, witnessing the glory of nature firsthand.
Forget visions of sugarplums (that is so yesterday), these kids are dreaming of broccoli! And now that they’re cleaned free of weeds, they’re ready to premier in their own harvest party.