A little over a month ago, I embarked on a fun Sunday afternoon project with my kids - planting and growing vegetable seeds. While a fun way to spend an afternoon, I thought the activity would be a learning one for my kids. Turned out, it was more for me.
Planning for the day, I bought starter pots and soil and prepared by watching hours’ of YouTube videos by amateur gardeners from around the world. I already had some very good seeds that my wife had purchased. They were high quality, non-GMO seeds which promised a bounty of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce (the cilantro did not make it out of the box and we will never speak of its grizzly fate).
On the beautiful March day, I lovingly laid out garbage bags on the kitchen floor while my 9-year old wrote the names of the vegetables on popsicle sticks. Getting my daughters involved, I had each girl scoop soil into the pots, make perfect holes for the seeds and count and plant the perfect amount for each pot. We made a bit of a mess but it was a fun and educational afternoon.
Once each pot was ready, I set them up on a shelf in the basement where I kept the overhead light on 24/7. Each day for 2 weeks I watered them with the spray nozzle on my clothes iron (it was off naturally). When nothing sprouted I made room on the kitchen window sill where diffused light and my daily attention would give the little guys what they needed.
I had dreams of the amazing food that my wife would cook with such fresh produce. After a month of loving dedication I was amazed by the results.
I couldn’t believe it. After all the research, commitment and good intentions, my work had resulted in nothing. Suddenly, my head started to spin and my inner critic began to speak.
- “Why can't I grow a beefsteak tomato when The Martian can grow food on Mars?”
- “How am I going to feed my family when the global food shortage happens?”
- “Why can't I do what millions of farmers do every day?”
With these thoughts in my head, I had to calm myself down and answer my inner critic.
- “The Martian was a fictional character who was a botanist with lots of time on his hands.”
- “There is plenty of food right now especially where I live and time to figure things out.”
- “Farmers work hard, have years of practice, generations of knowledge, and learn from their mistakes.”
Once I calmed myself down, I took full stock of the situation and realized my failure. I was so focused on preparing my kids for the future that I failed to appreciate the present. My kids enjoyed the act of planting the seeds. They had a fun afternoon. They didn’t really care about what happened afterwards because I didn’t involve them. I took over and got stressed out while they moved on to other things.
Having failed, I am going to start again. This time around though, I’m going to involve my kids in each step. We’re going to figure out what we did wrong and try again. Perhaps we’ll build a small light box, or focus on a couple pots, take a class or even talk to some farmers. It will take time and we will make mistakes, but it will be fun. Hopefully this time, we’ll grow that tomato!
I’ll be sure to keep you posted on our results. If you have some ideas and lessons learned to share, I’d love to hear from you.
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