Child's Garden Plans
My 4-year-old daughter Thalia has plans for her vegetable garden. BIG plans!

by Susannah Felts

Susannah Felts and Thalia
Susannah and Thalia

It’s getting to be that time of year again – planting season! – and I don’t know about you, but we are so ready. Recently, Dad, Todd (my husband), and I worked together to build us a second raised bed, which my daughter Thalia immediately dubbed “Thalia’s Vegetable Garden.” This new bed now sits adjacent to the one we installed a couple years back, harboring a layer of newspaper to suffocate the “grass” (aka weeds) within and awaiting a six-inch layer of soil and compost – not to mention some plants!

Obviously, it was time for Thalia and I to figure out just what we wanted to grow, so we sat down to browse the Bonnie website one night. It was after dinner, but as soon as Thalia saw all the mouthwatering pictures she said, “All these plants are making me hungry!”

Which, of course, I’ll take as a very good sign.

Not that she was salivating over stuff like Brussels sprouts and kohlrabi. We’d already talked a lot about growing strawberries, so she immediately wanted to add those to our list. The Icebox watermelon, a small variety that’s easily stored in the fridge, caught her eye, so I read her the description. That made the cut, too. After that she asked me to read the accompanying text for each plant we considered. It turned out to be a reading lesson and a garden-strategy session. Score!

Sweet 'n Neat Cherry Tomato plant
This compact plant will soon find a welcoming home in Thalia’s Vegetable Garden.

Silver Queen corn and a pumpkin also made the list, as did a few varieties of cherry tomatoes. (She likes to eat the small, sweet ones whole. Atta gal!) I exercised my parental authority and suggested — okay, demanded — that we add a cucumber and some basil, thyme, dill, cilantro, and grapefruit mint to the list. Herbs strike me as very kid-friendly: They’re easy to pick, attract butterflies, provide lots of sensory stimulation, and hopefully over time will get Thalia used to enjoying a wide range of flavors. (Granted, not all of this will fit in that raised bed – but we’ll find space.)

Now if this were my garden, it would be filled with leafy greens. But this is Thalia’s garden, so it’s her choice (mostly) – and I’m okay with that.

I’m hoping the experience proves to be a lesson in patience and perseverance, as pumpkins and watermelons are especially slow-growing and won’t give us the goods for many months. We’ll see if she remains interested in those plants. But for now, she’s enraptured, and so am I. Let the planting begin!