Monday, February 28, 2011

Taking Advantage of the Sunny Weather

Liam and his scarecrow likeness in the garden.
Lee and I have his boys over every other weekend, so we usually try to take them out to do something fun and educational because we know they don't get out to see or experience a lot otherwise. Friday it rained, and the forecast had promised another day of rain on Saturday, but it never showed up. Instead, it was absolutely frigid despite being sunny, so we chose indoor activities. Overnight we were expecting an odd late-season freeze (generally by this time in our area, all signs of frost are gone and it's time to get planting.) However, Sunday morning was absolutely gorgeous and warm, and we decided to take advantage of the weather and spend the day in the garden.
Rowan and his new pal.

We all had breakfast together, and got out some of the children's gardening books that we had previously picked up on our thrift store outings. The boys are at that stage where they love bugs, so they were thrilled to listen about all of the good garden bugs and animal friends that will help our garden stay free of pests. We browsed over Garden Crafts for Kids: 50 Great Reasons to Get Your Hands Dirty, and of course a scarecrow was included in the 50 ideas presented in the book.

The boys were excited with the prospect of creating their very own scarecrows, especially since they have also been learning a lot about recycling lately. All of the materials they used were recycled. They made the heads from wadded balls of newspaper. Lee helped them construct the bodies of old broken garden stakes. Finally, the boys chose outfits for them from a pile of clothing that they had outgrown. They were really antsy to get their scarecrows outside. We thought this was absolutely wonderful because the boys haven't always been so enthusiastic about going outside when they come over, unless it's to jump on their trampoline. We've tried everything to lure them outside to play and use their old fashioned imaginations, and until yesterday they haven't spent more than a half an hour in the backyard. Yesterday, they spent the entire day outside, all the way up until dinner time! This allowed Lee and I to get a lot of work done in the garden as well, since we didn't have to be inside supervising and breaking up arguments. We got about a third of the garden area tilled up, and four fruit trees planted.

We gave the boys their very own raised bed garden box, which had Liam raving on about all the stuff he wanted to plant. We also gave them one of their Easter gifts early= kid sized gardening gloves, theorizing that this would also encourage more garden play.  For some reason the boys have always been a little overly concerned about getting their hands dirty. Lee and I aren't sure where this phobia of dirt comes from, but it certainly doesn't come from us. Sure enough though, it worked.

All day long the boys "drove" their Tonka dump trucks back and forth from a mound of dirt in the back of the garden to their garden box. Not once did we hear a complaint or request to go back inside. It was probably one of the best days that I've spent with the boys, and we didn't even have to pay for admission fees or gas to get there. Family gardening is a fantastic way to spend the day and instills great values in kids. There wasn't anything more exciting to the boys than eating food that we grew in the garden last summer (except maybe the trip to the farmer's market), so I know that they are going to be over the moon when they taste the food that they grow, knowing that they produced it themselves from the ground up.

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