How Does Your Garden Grow — by Cara Meyers

Back in May, my son’s school had a Plant Sale to raise money for the PTA. I offered to volunteer at the Plant Sale that day to not only help with the sale, but to also be there when my son’s class came to buy plants. I wanted to help guide him towards plants I knew would grow well in our garden, especially considering that the amount of sunlight in certain parts of the garden was pretty minimal at best.

I took him to the shade loving plants. No interest. I took him to the flats of impatiens and petunias and suggested we plant them in containers in the sunnier parts of our yard. He barely gazed at the beautiful flowers. He was on a mission. He wanted to buy a vegetable plant. A specific vegetable plant. A tomato plant.
My heart sank. How would we be able to grow a vegetable plant that required quite a bit of sunlight in a garden that was almost pure shade? No amount of reasoning would do. He HAD to buy that tomato plant! I relented and let him buy the tomato plant. And a cucumber plant too. My heart was hurting for him knowing he would be so disappointed when his plants didn’t fair well in our shady garden. But he was beaming! He was going to grow tomatoes! And cucumbers! He could hardly contain himself! He couldn’t wait to come home from school to plant them!
I was despondent. This little boy planted his tomato and cucumber plants all by himself using a plastic sand shovel. He lugged the watering can full of water to the plants, making sure not to “drown” them. My heart was heavy knowing that his plants would most likely not make it. I would be surprised if they grew much at all.

Then came an unusually cold and extremely wet June. My son kept checking on his plants. They were not growing much. He would talk to them and water them (even though it had been raining practically every day!). He kept asking me how long it would take to get the tomatoes to grow and the cucumbers to appear. I didn’t have an answer other than, “Let’s wait and see. As the weather gets warmer, maybe the plants will grow some more.” But I wasn’t hopeful. Even the impatiens and petunias I bought and planted myself looked “leggy” and waterlogged. My heart was hurting for my little boy.

We had pretty much forgotten about the vegetable plants until a big storm blew a large tree branch onto my son’s tomato plant last week. I couldn’t believe my eyes! This plant was not a plant anymore, it was a huge bush! And once my husband and I staked it up, we saw about a dozen bright red, cherry tomatoes! I wanted to jump up and down! My son would be so delighted when he came home from camp!

When he arrived home, I walked him over to the tomato “bush.” He saw the tomatoes and ran to get a container to collect them! He delicately picked all the ripe ones in the front, but in trying to reach the ones in the back, I had to move a cucumber leaf. There, staring up at us was this beautiful, perfect green cucumber, ready to be picked! I was astonished! Under the worst conditions, the vegetables still grew! And all my son could say was, “See Mommy! They grew! You just have to know how to take care of them!” It made me think of how well I was faring as a parent. Even under some of the worst conditions, my child thrives. Even when I least expect it, he flourishes. All I could think of was how true he was…how true he was!