Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
I’m pretty sure the offer for Garden Kits from Amir would have caught my attention in any year, but in 2020 it seemed particularly perfect. With no summer camp and lots of energy to burn, our family needed more engaging summer activities. Here was a chance to make a donation to a cool Jewish organization promoting agriculture and the environment… and in exchange, you get a garden kit to experience with your kids.
I was a little late in ordering our kit, with spring-planting already behind us and true summer already warming our yard. But when the kit swiftly arrived, my family eagerly cracked it open. We bought some soil and some large planters, and soon we were measuring holes in the earth with our garden-lot ruler and dropping in our garden-kit seeds: squash, bush beans, bok choi, and more!
(My four-year-old was also particularly enamored of the laminated bugs-of-the-garden guide that came with the kit. Bugs are always a big hit. At least with four-year-olds.)
Within a week, the first shoots were peeking out of the planter. We checked and measured them, watered them with a bug-shaped watering can (I told you… it’s the Summer of Bugs, y’all), and soon it was time to move our growing veggies from the planters on the porch out into the actual yard.
For another week or two, all was well. Blossoms appeared! Seed caps fell off plants as they pushed their way farther toward the sun! A few weeks after that, little veggies started appearing…
…and just as quickly, they started disappearing.
We soon learned that when planning new flora for our yard, we also had to consider the fauna. The rabbits, chipmunks. squirrels, and birds eagerly harvested the entirety of our little garden, right down to the soil. We had put up some little fencing and tomato cages, but not enough to deter the bold bunnies and sneaky squirrels.
So instead of getting to enjoy our food, we talked about how much the little animals must have enjoyed their feast. Luckily, one of the only things a four-year-old likes more than bugs is knowing that they got to feed cute fluffy little yard animals. Whew.
We also learned a new word, with a significant double-meaning when it comes to gardening: Shamor.
Shamor means “keep,” but also more literally means “guard.” We’ve decided Shamor will be the theme for our garden next year… because we want to keep trying, but now we know we’ll also need to guard our garden a bit better!
Thanks, Amir, for encouraging families to get out and garden. As we begin this new year – a sweet transition so desperately needed – we’re already thinking about next spring and what we might plant. Here’s to a great harvest, whether we’re reaping lots of ripe vegetables or some basic life lessons… or hopefully, sometimes, both.