A Child’s Delight in the Garden
As I led my two year-old grandson, Christopher, across the lawn and over to the
sprawling vines of my Concord grapes, I could tell he was wondering what we were doing. No bells or whistles or push button toys with flashing lights here; just a mass of vines spilling over and beyond a simple arbor and wandering off into a grove of trees.
Then I parted the large grape leaves to reveal the dark purple grapes, just ripe for the picking. With little hesitation young “C.J.” as we call him, plucked a grape and put it in his mouth. The sweet grape “explosion” he experienced that day made his eyes light up and a grin spread across his face. I knew then and there I had him hooked on a good thing.
From that day until the last grape was picked, C.J. would make a beeline from the car to the grape arbor every time he came out to visit. I’m glad I showed him the grapes, although he didn’t leave many behind. I just felt good knowing pesticides and harmful bacteria hadn’t tarnished the fruit he was eating.
Folks who share the desire to eat wholesome, organic fruit always want to know how to plant apples, cherries and other tree fruits. These fruits are fine, of course, but it’s expensive to purchase large fruit trees, they take up valuable space in the yard and are prone to insect and disease problems - not to mention the fact they take years to bear fruit.
On the other hand, plants such as grapes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, gooseberries, and even some shrub species of cherries are much easier to grow, are relatively pest-free and will produce fruit before your child or grandchild develops fussy eating habits. And lastly, you won’t have to spray them with harmful chemicals best left out of the reach of children.
Most of the aforementioned plants will produce nutritious fruits they can eat right off the plant no later than the second year. If you don’t want to go to the pains of working up a new garden plot, simply incorporate them into the landscape. For instance, edible shrub cherries, such as the Nanking, will double as an ornamental and can be planted along a foundation or be used as a hedge. Grapes are usually trellised along a fence, wall or the edge of a property, and raspberries, strawberries and gooseberries can all be added to a perennial bed or occupy their own spot in a sunny location.
I can’t think of a better way to introduce children to tasty, nutritious produce than by planting a few of these easy-to-grow fruits and berries. The benefits could last a lifetime.
Sources for low growing fruits and berries:
Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co. www.Gurney’s.com
Neil Moran teaches horticulture and is the author of North Country Gardening: Simple Secrets to Successful Northern Gardening. Send any questions regarding growing the above mentioned fruit and berries to email@example.com. You can visit his gardening website at www.neilmoran.com