Our tomato plant in the small balcony of our house has two green ones hanging from it. Everyday we look at it and watch it grow just a little plumper. The girls planted the seeds and have dutifully watered it everyday. They watched it sprout, grow a little taller, flower and now fruit. They have begun to appreciate the time it takes for plants to grow. In the summer they must water, in the rains perhaps not so much. A cursory walk or drive by the field would not have done this. It has been a slow journey of understanding of how food is grown and arrives on the plate.
I chanced upon Two Little Gardeners by Margaret Wise Brown and Edith Thacher Hurd at the local library. Luxurious, verdant illustrations by Getrude Elliot made me more curious about this book published in 1951. Sure enough it turned out to be the most wonderful little book about growing things.
At the centre of it are a brother and sister who bring out their rakes, spades and other gardening equipment, now that winter is gone. They start by turning, chopping and smoothing the land. They go on to plant little radish seeds, black seeds, round wrinkled seeds of the pea, flat pumpkin seeds and flat lima bean seeds. Here the authors introduce the idea that the seeds are as varied and different from each other as the plants themselves are.
The wind, sun and rains do their bit and soon under the ground the radishes, beets and potatoes start to swell. With it come other players, like the worms, rats, rabbits all wanting a taste of the delicious vegetables. Weeds grow too and the children have to remove them. Scarecrows are put in place to chase the squirrels, groundhogs, moles and the like. Soon the garden is filled aplenty, with overhanging fruit and vegetables.
The children pick, pick, pick the pumpkins, parsnips, peppers and corn. They eat quite a bit and store the rest for the winter.
If you want to teach children about both the joy and effort of growing produce this is the book. It also teaches them about the seasons, the many animals that come to eat at the garden as well as how the harvest can be stored for further use.
The book will get little children interested and wanting to try growing a few things on their own. The joy of eating self- grown tomatoes and chillies are unparalleled. Two Little Gardeners is just the book to get their interest.