Humor Life Parenting

How (not) to Grow a Garden With Your Kids


By Amy Betters-Midtvedt of Hiding in the Closet with Coffee

Spring in Wisconsin. Oh, how we wait for you to arrive with such long held anticipation! In the giddiness of seeing the buds on the branches and our grass turn from brown to green, I am tricked each and every year into imagining I somehow play a role in this.

I look out my window and imagine the garden I will plant, the flowers I will grow, the beauty that will be my backyard. I picture my kids and I in cute gardening boots with matching gloves, diligently plowing and planting and pulling weeds as the birds and butterflies land gently on our shoulders. I can almost see and taste our harvest: lettuce and tomatoes and peppers that we have grown ourselves, crafted into delicious salads that we eat on the back deck looking out over the masterpiece I am queening over.

What a load of crap, my friends. I forget each and every year that I have the world’s brownest thumb. No Pinterest board or plant sale or advice from my green-thumbed family and friends can change my DNA. Gardening is not a gift that is in my basket. So I feel I am only qualified only to give you advice about how not to garden with your kids. If you are like me pay special attention to number 12. There may still be time to save yourself.

How Not to Plant a Garden

1. Look at Pinterest for about eleventy billion years and pin a myriad of awesome garden plans. Ignore all information about zones and sun exposure and planting times. Instead, pick the prettiest stuff, print off your plan and head to Home Depot, or really, the closest places that sells plants; it’s all the same and we don’t have all day.

2. Once there, find everything you can on your list. If you can’t find something, just pick the plant that looks the most similar or is the same color because it is totally safe to assume if the flowers are the same color, you can just plop them in. Don’t ask for help because those experts can really burst your Pinterest bubble by advising you against the super pretty purple plant with the fun sounding name. You’ve got this.

3. Be sure to bring your children. Let everyone pick out as many veggies as they would like to plant. You can squeeze in way more plants than those darn labels are describing. No one really measures how far apart they plant things, right? The more, the merrier. Your kids will be super excited about helping you but may also spend most of the time begging for you to put both a fountain and a goldfish pond with a waterfall in your yard. Assure them that next year you can move up to that level once you have your garden conquered.

4. Bring all plants to the back yard and set them where they will eventually be planted. Sit back and relax for a bit because that was HARD WORK. Maybe have a glass of wine. No rush, right? You’ll get to the actual planting in a jiff.

5. Realize 2 weeks have gone by and everything is still in pots. Get a little panicky that things are turning brown. Send the kids out to start digging. Drop stuff in holes and cover with dirt. If a plant is sticking up too far because the hole wasn’t deep enough, just mound some dirt around that guy. Water everything. Your work is done. High five the kids and go for a walk.

6. Look out the window and admire your work.

7. Look out the window a week later and notice there is other stuff growing with your plants. Realize it is time to weed. Sigh.

8. Pull weeds. Pull weeds. Pull weeds. Ask kids to help. Yell a bit about how gardening is FUN and they wanted to do this, didn’t they? You bought them cute gardening gloves (that are now lost) and tools (also lost), so they need to help you, darn it! Watch them weed and weep and then replant the things they pulled that were not weeds.

9. Repeat number 8 to infinity.

10. Go on vacation and come back to holy hell in your backyard. The tomatoes have taken over the neighborhood. The lettuce has been eaten by the bunnies and mice right down to nubs. You have no idea what herbs you planted anymore, so you taste things and realize you have for sure eaten some weeds. Pick the veggies that don’t have teeth marks, which are barely enough for an individual salad, and try to look on the bright side. Your garden is feeding God’s creatures. Those creatures are just not your family.

11. Completely give up and let the plants run amok. July is pretty close to finishing, after all. Be grateful you live in Wisconsin where you only have to put up with this madness for a short period of time.

12. Vow to never make a garden again.

Friends, my hope is that I have gotten to you in time. Join me in my vow to leave the planting to those that can handle it and use that energy on the gifts God gave you. There will be no veggie garden in our back yard this year and no plant will go into the ground that is not cleared with an expert. I will bask in the free tomatoes from green-thumbed friends and buy my lettuce from the farmer’s market. It is time to cut my losses and stick with what I am really good at, which clearly is not this. My hope is that it might involve more sitting on the deck with that glass of wine, admiring the work Mother Nature is doing all on her own. 

There is nothing more freeing than making more time for using your gifts.

This post was originally published on Hiding in the Closet with Coffee.


About the Author

I’m Amy Betters-Midtvedt and I write along with my friend and former teaching partner Erin Loritz over at Hiding in the Closet with Coffee. I am an educator who no longer has a classroom of my own and so have apparently attempted to recreate the classroom experience by filling my house with 5 kids. I must enjoy noise and chaos because it seems to follow me everywhere in the form of small humans (some who are now not so small). I often say I owe the fulfillment of my dream of having a largeish family to my parents and sisters who have picked up my slack and my children. One of the hardest and best things about becoming a parent is that you quickly learn there is no way to do this job without some extra people. Erin and I have good ones. Our work has been published here, on Mamalode, Blunt Moms and Scary Mommy. You can read more about each of us at Hiding in the Closet with Coffee. You can also find us hiding out over at Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter