A tiny tomato seed is planted in the earth. It needs water and sun but slowly it grows from a seed to a tiny seedling and then to a beautiful tomato plant with branches bending under the weight of the heavy, ruby-like globes. SubhanAllah. Even as an adult, I feel humbled. I want to pass this feeling on to my children; I don’t want them to take all the vegetables piled high in the grocery store for granted. I want them to appreciate the perfection of Allah’s creation, evident to us as we watch a seed grow from a tiny little nothing into beautiful vegetables for our tables.
If they grow it – they will eat it.
I have heard this so many times and it is true!! Children are much more likely to eat a vegetable if they’ve played a hand in picking seeds, growing and harvesting. Fun varieties can make vegetables even more exciting for children. For example, purple and yellow beans instead of the normal green beans. There are yellow, white and purple carrots instead of orange. Some carrots are tiny and round while some are round and thin. Even simple radishes come in different colors and shapes. My children don’t like radishes (store bought ones) but I find them nibbling on the ones we pull out of our garden.
Lessons in Science
This will be my second year gardening, Alhamdulillah. I’ve learned a lot since last year and so have my children. Last summer, as we worked outside we watched as many of our baby zucchini and cucumbers shriveled up to nothing while others grew big and green. “Why, Mama?” That’s when they learned that bees are a vital part of any garden. Some vegetables need bees to pollinate them while others, like tomatoes and peppers, self-pollinate.
It’s a wonderful opportunity to teach children about the life cycle of plants and about how every living thing needs water and sun to grow and be healthy.
This is possibly the most important lesson we can take from gardening. Plants don’t just pop up overnight. They require, at the very least, 3 weeks before we can harvest anything. This can be especially difficult for children, because it is in their nature to be impatient. Choose some plants that grow quickly, such as green beans, cucumbers, strawberries, radishes and peas. Herbs are also wonderful to grow since most of them grow quickly and can easily be grown in pots.
There are many other benefits, such as bringing the family together as they work in the garden, controlling what goes into your vegetables/fruit (read: no pesticides!) and relaxation. So many people find gardens to be relaxing and I’m one of them. I find myself sitting outside, in the early morning or just before Maghrib, just looking at the vegetables and flowers, feeling peaceful. It’s a wonderful feeling, Alhamdulillah.
Zainab Abdullah lives in Maryland with her husband and two young children. She enjoys reading, spending time with her family, trying new things in the kitchen and anything outdoors.