by Cassidy Nunn | photo by Nunn Other Photography –
I do not have a natural green thumb. I have romanticized the idea of having a garden – many of my family members are amazing gardeners – but it’s not something that comes easily to me. So, of course, I decided that the year I had my first baby would be the perfect time to start my ambitious gardening hobby. Our vegetable garden came into creation with all (and I mean all) the help from my in-laws, brother-in-law and husband. Over a couple of days they transformed a small patch of our backyard from a chunk of brown lawn into three beautiful raised beds; I watched from the deck while rocking the baby and whispering to her about how much fun we would have gardening together over the years.
We filled the beds with rich soil and eagerly planted all sorts of vegetables; my father-in-law added drip irrigation and then we waited. I did a grand total of zero weeding but thanks to the irrigation and good soil, the garden (and the weeds) still managed to thrive. A bit wild and out of control, the garden came to life and I spent summer evenings while the baby slept picking the bounty.
By the time fall rolled around we’d abandoned the garden, given in to our sleep deprivation and general post-summer exhaustion and let the weeds take over as the plants died off and the raised beds turned into a jungle.
The second summer of our garden I had more grand ambitions. My daughter was over a year now, and I had visions of her hanging out in the backyard with me, helping tend to the plants. I somehow managed to get a few tomato plants, zucchini, kale, cauliflower and herbs in the ground. I soon discovered my daughter had other plans for our outdoor garden time and most of it consisted of trying to put anything and everything in her mouth while speed crawling across the grass. It was impossible to get anything done and garden time once again was relegated to evenings (if I wasn’t already asleep on the couch!) The heat wave took care of roasting our limited supply of raspberries and killed a few of our other veggies. Discouraged, I once again abandoned the garden come fall and had serious doubts about attempting another one in the future.
The following spring my daughter, now two years old and a very capable walker, discovered the set of plastic garden tools my aunt had gifted to her. She began to work alongside me in the flower garden, taking immense joy in carrying the weeds I’d pulled and chucking them into the wheelbarrow. I decided this might be the year that gardening with her would work and with my husband’s help, the three of us cleared out the abandoned garden beds and filled them with veggie starts. Due to our drip irrigation bursting and breaking over the winter, we went back to hand watering the garden. Each night as soon as we finished dinner, my daughter enthusiastically announced to the table “check on the strawberries and raspberries!” She’d slide out of her booster seat, run to grab her berry picking basket and tiny yellow watering can, and out we’d go to visit our plants. She excitedly picked all the red strawberries and placed them in her basket before racing to the raspberries where it became more a case of one in the basket, one in the mouth.
It’s still a very tangled garden filled with weeds, as well as a rabbit that enjoys our kale and lizards who I think may be behind the small bites out of our strawberries, but watching my daughter learn about plants and food this past summer and seeing her eyes light up when she pops a freshly picked raspberry into her mouth has given me even more determination to cultivate this thumb of mine, as well as hers, into one that might be considered green one day.