Weather Makes the Garden Grow

Originally published on Michelle Bruhn’s Forks in the Dirt Website.

Weather makes the garden grow. This is a simple truth that even children and beginning gardeners (like me) know in our souls. A spot of soil, some sun, some rain—these are the essential ingredients for any successful garden. But if we really stop to consider, we realize that our gardens rely on weather—all sorts of weather—in dozens of meaningful ways to propagate the food we eat each day. Nevertheless, we sure do love to hate the weather.

When I wrote the first poem for the I LIKE THE WEATHER picture book series, I was living in a cloud. In the wet and foggy Pacific Northwest, it sometimes rains for weeks on end, and the sun seems to disappear forever. At first, it was hideous. Truly, I hated the weather.

However, I quickly learned that the only way to live in such a soggy place was to stop resisting—to zip up my raincoat and get on out there. Soon, I really did like the rain. Trees and gardens thrived. Flowers bloomed in February. Rainy walks were filled with sensory wonders. One day, caught in a winter rain shower, drip-drops tapping on my hooded head, pitter-pattering on my chilly cheeks, I sang my “first draft” of I Like the Rain.

Life is just better when we like the weather. Here in the upper Midwest, we are happiest when we embrace the changing weather and the cold and snow. Memories of my Minnesota childhood—windy day kite flying, snow angels and snow forts, jumpy spring rain puddles, and sunny summer swims—inspired the rest of the I Like the Weather series. Weather gives us more ways to play. Kids know this instinctively—if they are allowed to slip, slide, stomp, and frolic. We adults sometimes forget.

I suppose it is the little discomforts we all feel—our achy muscles on a rainy day, a dull melancholy when the sky is very gray. But weather, like a feeling, comes and goes. Clouds drift. Rain passes. Stormy gusts give way to easy breezes. It helps, I think, to get outside in all sorts of weather to frolic and play—or at least to revel as we dig and sow in the many ways that weather makes the garden grow.

As you visit and tend the garden with your children, notice the visible ways that weather helps your plants flourish. Warm sun sprouts spring shoots and opens flowers. Wind carries seeds to new homes. Rain washes green leaves and waters our garden soil.      

Weather also has many less obvious ways of growing the garden. As weather changes throughout the year, talk with your children about these benefits for the garden.

  • Snow pack protects the roots of trees and perennials, insulating them from icy temperatures.
  • Melting snow gives our gardens the slow, steady soak that helps plants sprout in spring.
  • Intense cold kills off some fungi and decreases populations of certain troublesome insects.
  • A hard winter freeze (and repeated freezing and thawing in springtime) softens the hard coats of seeds like apple, plum, and wild rose and allows these seeds to germinate.
  • Wind blows flower pollen from blossom to blossom, pollinating many of our food crops like cereal grains and nut trees.
  • Fog supplies some plants with fresh water as their leaves absorb moisture directly from the wet air.
  • A heat wave, like nature’s hothouse, can ripen August tomatoes and hurry-on the autumn harvest.                                      

There really are so many things to like—and even love—about all sorts of weather. I hope you and your families will enjoy celebrating and exploring weather in the garden as well as in the I LIKE THE WEATHER series.

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