I am getting ready to go out for the evening and my nails are black with dirt. Now I prefer to call the dirt in the garden soil because that is what covers the planet and grows the plants. C and I have been planting a garden with seeds she has chosen from the rack at the grocer’s store. We have a tiny patch of ground which she enjoyed digging up and making mud pies for a couple of weeks before we brought in potting soil and compost to make a vegetable garden. With help from Uncle J who made the troughs, C carefully sprinkled the seeds for peas, carrots, beets, radishes, onions and lettuce and toy choy plants. The combination of sun and rain helped the seeds sprout quickly and we will begin to eat the sprouts to thin out the seedlings. I also bought the bean mixture from the store to show C how they sprout. We saved a packet of sunflower seeds from her birthday and planted them in a pot. C watched the roots sprout and find their way down into the soil. We have now planted the sunflower seedlings in the garden.
In the meantime, Uncle J is growing tomato plants, lettuce, rocket and herbs in the greenhouse and C enjoys picking lettuce and eating it. C watched the bees sipping nectar from the apple tree blossoms, carrying pollen from flower to flower and can now see the apple growing from the flower. The raspberry canes are coming into bloom.
During the sunny weather C and her friend B have enjoyed playing outside at B’s house and they spend hours looking for horse’s tails to pull up, climbing in and around the garden and digging in the soil. I must add that there are no toys in the garden except for their imagination and it is a joy to listen and watch them play together.
On May 25th, the Province newspaper published an article titled “Playing in the dirt could make kids smarter” promoting “another reason for the children to play outdoors in the dirt: It may make them smarter and as a side benefit, dirt appears to be a natural anti-anxiety drug, but without the side effects.”
Children know innately that they want to be outside. Ask a child what his favourite part of the school day is and they will often reply ‘recess’. An adult may find this funny because they think that a child should be interested in an academic subject.
I am so happy that C enjoys being outside and digging in the dirt because I want her to have the connection with an organism in nature that may actually benefit her.