day 24 – grow a gardener

This beautiful image is a watercolour by Ipswich artist Annamaria Mays Vermeer.

Audrey Hepburn once said, ‘To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,’ and the same is true of nurturing children. They are the future. What could be a nicer fit, then, than to encourage the gardener in your child? I’m not known for my gardening skills – my pot plants live in fear – but I love gardens and am in awe of people who help them flourish. Many of you are great gardeners; please bestow your wisdom via the comments below.

We bought a $2 packet of cress seeds and followed the simple instructions on the back. They were supposed to sprout in 6-10 days. These were up in two. Not sure if that’s a good thing. But it’s exciting to watch and it’s a demonstration to children that, in a garden, things happen. If we’re lucky we will be adding these to a salad next week.

Cress seeds only $2 and, who knows, maybe that’s a gift that keeps on giving

Growing a pineapple top is easy. Remove the lowest leaves and trim off the outer portion so you can see root buds (small, brown bumps) around the perimeter. Dry the pineapple top for a few days to discourage rotting, then place it in soil up to the base of its leaves and water thoroughly. Place in bright, indirect light and keep moist until roots develop (about 6-8 weeks), then you can give the plant more light. Once you plant it out, water once a week.

Avocados are easy too. Clean the seed until the brown skin is shiny. Work out which end is UP – it’s the pointy end, which will sprout, the bottom is flatter and will send out roots. Pierce the seed with three toothpicks, sloping down into the seed so it reaches the water easily. Place it, half-submerged, in a glass of water. Change the water weekly to prevent bacteria and don’t let the level drop. Now wait for your avocado seed to sprout. You can pot it up when the young plant is about 15 cm tall.

Children can do all of the small tasks involved in these projects.

Cool slices of pineapple, guacamole on toast – yum! Growing their own helps kids appreciate the labour and time involved in producing food. They’re more likely to eat well, and less likely to waste it.

Published by Dr Toni Risson

Dr Toni Risson is a storyteller and a cultural historian who has penned everything from children’s picture books to a PhD on the Magic of Lollies. An expert on the Greek cafe phenomenon, Toni curated Meet Me at the Paragon for the State Library of Queensland, and her latest book, Brisbane’s Greek Cafes: A Million Malted Milks, was a finalist in the 2019 Queensland Literary Awards. Having encountered the elegant Paragon Cafe in Katoomba as a child, Toni developed a fascination with silky oak panelling, bevelled mirrors and Art Deco wall lights long before she understood the stories behind Australia's iconic Greek cafe. She continues to document our lost café culture.

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