we get a grand plan…
Family Activity: Build a square foot garden in 2 hours.
We went to Lowe’s and bought supplies to make 14 square foot gardening boxes.
Okay. It wasn’t fourteen.
I had a vision in my head of 6 or more beautiful square foot gardens built to perfection with a bounty of gorgeous vegetables spilling out of by mid summer. It was a beautiful picture.
That dream only lived in my head.
It didn’t make it to my yard.
One (yes, ONE) square foot garden made it to our yard.
How to make a square foot garden:
First, walk around the yard for approximately 30 minutes trying to decide which spot in your yard, that slopes down to a swamp, is the least likely place for your garden to fall, head over heels like a clumsy ballerina, down the hill during the next rain storm into said swamp.
Second, the boys bring all of the supplies to proposed garden spot. This is mainly done so that the girls have a place to sit. While the boys carry the rest of the peat moss, dirt, and manure to garden location the girls will hug, laugh, and tell secrets on their personalized chairs.
Third, measure all of the boards 20 times to make sure that they will fit together perfectly so that the soil doesn’t drain out the four sides when it gets over watered by overzealous 8 year old gardeners.
Fourth, discover that every board is warped and won’t fit together in a solid air tight 90 degree angle…and that the people at Lowe’s did not actually take a class in how to cut boards perfectly straight.
Fifth, take a break and drink some very carefully prepared water by the girls.
Sixth, make a teeter totter out of the garden boards.
Seriously. Is there a better option? Of course not.
Seventh, making a teeter totter can tire a person out so get a blanket and have someone read you a story.
Meanwhile, the whole project is taking much longer than you [or Emmet] had hoped. He’d really like to go throw the football around rather than keep measuring these boards.
Get the weed blocker fabric in place. At this point your son will realize that you were actually laying out a place for him to take a rest from all of the hard labor you’ve inflicted on him because no one else’s parents are making them build a garden.
Your project started at ten this morning.
Nothing is built.
Progress so far:
you found a place for the garden that will not end up living with the frogs
the weed blocker is in place
Time for lunch.
Does this seem like it’s taking an extra long time to you?
It does to me, too.
I thought we’d have this done before lunch time.
After lunch we decide we need to hurry it up if we’re going to beat the sun going down.
At this rate we’ll still be working at 3am, you say.
Whattttt?!? All the kids say in unison.
They launch into, “but I thought we were going to get to do something fun today!”
And you something akin to Calvin’s character building Dad, “It has been a fun morning!”
You are back outside.
What step are we on?
Let’s just get these warped boards screwed together for our squarefoot garden and hope for the best.
Everyone wants to help. Each person has to be touching some part of the garden during every second of the building.
Now it’s time for mixing the exact recipe of soil:
Supplies for this stage:
Adult shovels: shovels that the kids will insist are not too big for them but that they can barely lift
Heavy dirt: three different items need to be mixed and then shoveled into garden*
Water: everyone will want a turn
*[the soil mixture is this: 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost]
There is the option of planting a bunch of seedlings in your house and watching them grow and then transplanting them to your garden. We used to do that.
Most of them die.
Last step: Buy pretty plants at the store and plant them in our garden.
As you can see by the light in this last set of images (the sun is setting)…
I was dillusional!!
Who can build and plant a garden with four kids before lunch time?!?
Okay. Maybe superwoman.
But as you’ve read here…she’s left the building.
It took all day Saturday. By the end of the day we were hoping to just get the plants into the garden before it got dark.
The purpose of the task is to build the relationship.
That’s the reason we do so much of what we do as parents. It’s not really to speed through a task and just have it done.
The thing we want most…and that our kids want most…
Is to enjoy being together. Learning together.
And especially laughing together.
I could have built 6 square foot gardens. Mike and I probably could have done it all in one day by ourselves.
But the whole build-a-garden-project was about so much more than that…
When I look back on this day, that happened almost exactly three years ago, it makes me laugh. I love the funnyness of this whole day long project.
I smile at the way my girls obliviously played together and then sweetly disappeared inside to bring water out to to the rest of us.
It cracks me up that even now my kids complain about projects like this.
They usually give us one of these three looks:
a.) what?!? you’ve never made them us work so hard in our life
b.) why do we have to work on a Saturday?!?
c.) what happened to the all day entertainment package I thought I signed up for?
All of these reactions and interactions make up our life together.
And they are funny.
(okay maybe not always funny in the moment but certainly when looking back…being able to laugh in the moment though…that makes it all more fun when the kids give us their shocked and appalled looks)
Being a family is so much of the sweetness and the growing and the teaching all mixed up together like that crazy mixture of soil.
And we have a beautiful garden [family] to show for it.
This is familyness.
What’s your most recent familyness adventure? Tell us in the comments!
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