Wayne Hinshaw: Gardening with my grandchildren

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2016

Papa to grandchildren: “Let’s go out and work in the garden.”

Granddaughter Kathryn: “How much will you pay me?”

Papa: “I want you to learn about working in the garden.”

Granddaughter Kathryn: “Okay, but you have to pay us $5 for working.”

Thus was the conversation with Kathryn and Evan, my grandchildren.

Kathryn is 7 and Evan is 4. Visiting for three days, it is hard to keep finding new activities to challenge them each day, and I thought gardening was a good activity.

We went to a movie. We went shopping downtown for toys and candy. We went to see “The Wizard of Oz” production. We went to “Friday Night Out.” We ate in restaurants. We played at home. We had a complete schedule to fill the days with interesting events for them.

I wanted to introduce them to the  “fun” of working in the garden and growing vegetables and seeing where some of their food is grown.

Kathryn is a 7-year-old with a destiny of becoming a labor consultant. She always wants to bargain and establish a pay rate for her chores. She has learned the value of money and having a savings account, so she pushes a hard bargain.

After the preparation of spraying the kids with insect repellant, we headed to the garden.

“Let’s pick green beans,” Papa encouraged, lifting a bean vine. “See, here are the beans. Only pick the ones that are this size of 4 to 5 inches long.”

Both kids stood looking for a moment then dove into a vine.

Evan treated the entire chore as an Easter egg hunt. He would shout, “I have found one” when looking at an entire cluster of beans.

After two or three vines, Kathryn said “The bugs (mosquitos) are biting me.” She ran to the house. When she returned, she had the insect repellant with her. Every time she saw a mosquito, she would spray herself. Then Evan decided he needed spraying again.

Kathryn found some little fuzzy yellow insects on the leaves of the vines and wanted to know what they were.

I explained that they were eating the leaves of the vine, but they wouldn’t hurt her, so keep picking. She watched the insects for a moment and decided that she didn’t want anything to do with picking greens beans.

Papa asked, “Don’t you want to be a farm girl?”

Kathryn: “No, I don’t want to be a  farm girl.

Papa: “If you are not a farm girl, you will not  be able  to be on “FarmersOnly.com.”  I was joking about the dating site for farm girls that runs advertisements on TV. I had no idea that she had any knowledge of the website.

I continued, “You like to ride horses, ride in boats, and play ball like a farm girl.”

She responded, “No I’m not a farm girl.” She continued by singing the FarmersOnly jingle, “You don’t have to be lonely any more. City folks just don’t get it.”

I reminded her that both of her parents are N.C. State University graduates and that N.C. State is a school for agriculture. She was not impressed.

Of course, her dad studied textiles, and her mom studied business management, but that was lost in the wind.

Looking around I noticed that Evan had left the bean picking and was playing in the dirt. He had leveled off an area 2 to 3 feet wide. He announced that he was building a baseball field.

He jumped up and ran to the house returning with a big bag of beach toys that were bagged to take to the beach. He said he was going to need the toys to finish his baseball field.

Back to Kathryn. 

She wanted to know why some of the corn was broken off. I told her raccoons came into the garden at night and broke the cornstalks so that they could eat the ears of corn. 

Kathryn: “Are there raccoons in the corn now?”

Papa: “No, they come at night.”

Kathryn: “They come at night and eat the corn when it is dark?

Papa: “Yes, they look for food at night.”

Kathryn: “They must be cool animals if they sleep in the day and eat at night.”

Papa: “Let’s pick some tomatoes. Only pick the red ones. Leave the green ones on the vine.”

Kathryn reached for and grabbed a large red German Johnson tomato.

She quickly retracted her hand with the red messy tomato juice  dripping from her hand. She made terrible facial expressions and said, “It is rotten.” Looking at her hand again, she added, “This is disgusting,” and she ran to the house, ending our gardening.

Well, we didn’t get much gardening done, but it was a lot of fun watching and listening the children explore the garden. I bet that they will remember some lesson about gardening.

Later Kathryn said, “Papa, you must really like nature if you work in the garden.”

The answer is, “Yes, I really like nature,” and yes, both grandkids got  their $5, which they spent on toys downtown.

That night during a rainstorm, Evan asked if his baseball field in the garden was getting wet.