Despite the rainy weather we’ve been experiencing, there’s no denying that Levittown is in bloom. The trees have come back to life, overflowing with brightly colored buds that have or soon will litter the ground; the prettiest natural confetti there is! Many of you reading this will spend your weekends turning up dirt and planting new flower beds, nurturing your herb gardens, or preparing for what will hopefully be an abundance of ripe vegetables.
When it comes to gardening, I am a happy observer and an unskilled participant. It would be nice to think that keeping a plant or a flower or a vegetable patch alive is as simple as a little dirt and water. Maybe in some cases it is that simple, but I know enough to realize that in most cases there are other variables to consider: time of year, amount of water, amount of sunlight, amount of dirt (type of dirt?), fertilizer…and on and on. Gardening is a science of pH balances and photosynthesis, not to mention a beautiful art. My eyes were recently opened to the wonders of gardening. It was a likely source: a book. Go figure. In fact, it happens to be a book many families will get to know in the next few months: Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. If you don’t know yet, this is the 2016 selection for “A Tale of Two Schools,” which will be required reading for all Levittown students entering grades 6, 7, and 8. The main character, Willow Chance, is basically a gardening prodigy with a deep and powerful love of horticulture. She describes (or I should say the author describes) the magnificence of plants and flowers with such beautiful and reverent details that I could not help but feel, for perhaps the first time in my life, that these millions of organisms are really quite magical and wondrous. What power we have with a few seeds and sunlight!
There could be Willow Chances in our own community, just waiting to blossom (sorry, I couldn’t help the springtime pun). Children preschool age and up gain a variety of knowledge and important life skills when they learn about gardening: how to care for the planet, good nutrition, life cycles, and even basic lessons like teamwork, patience, and follow-through. I discovered a fantastic website dedicated to empowering children through gardening; Kidsgardening.org provides lesson plans and activities designed to steer curious and active minds towards sustainable and healthy living. Also, The University of Illinois has a cute little website, “My First Garden,” with content that’s age-appropriate and easy to comprehend. Gardening is a great hobby for a child to nurture as they mature–it gets them outdoors, in the sunshine, using their hands to make something. Really, gardening is a healthy pursuit for all ages. A few years ago, CNN published the article “Why Gardening is Good for Your Health,” which listed stress relief, improved mental health, exercise, and better nutrition and brain health as a few of the benefits gardeners enjoy.
Because my thumbs are not even the faintest shade of green, I have had to look elsewhere for gardening advice. Before I continue, I would like to point out that most of you out there can probably show these professionals a thing or two about horticulture. Please do not hesitate to share your sage words with us! Our comments section is always available. There is usually a short lag time between when you comment and when the comment appears, but it will be posted and I will write you back! Now that that is out of the way, I can point out this list from 2014 that was made by Buzzfeed, the Internet’s jack-of-all-trades when it comes to practical advice. Their collection of “30 Insanely Clever Gardening Tricks” includes creative suggestions like starting a seedling in an eggshell or a lemon and using a hanging shoe rack to create an herb garden. Really, what’s more DIY than gardening? Also, fellow non-green thumbs like myself shouldn’t feel intimidated, as this list comes with the preamble, “No green thumb required.”
It’s not a surprise that HGTV, which stands for Home and Garden Television, offers web surfers a lengthy Gardening section, with monthly to-do lists, inspirational photos of how your garden can look, and helpful videos. For some concise advice, I also came upon “14 Simple Gardening Tips and Tricks,” including this clever piece of advice (#10 on the list): “The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain, use it to water potted patio plants, and you’ll be amazed at how the plants respond to the ‘vegetable soup’.”
Finally, if you’re new to the gardening game or you need a refresher, come to the library on Thursday, May 12th, when Paul Levine. “The Plant Man,” will share gardening tips and bring in flowers and shrubs for everyone to see. We also have a great class on floral arrangement scheduled for Monday, June 13th. So, in May you can learn how to grow flowers and in June you can learn how to arrange them into a beautiful display!
Feel free to share your gardening tips, tricks, and anecdotes. I look forward to hearing from you!