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Episode 0022 - Changing a child's life with gardening
« on: March 17, 2018, 03:25:15 PM »
The Survival Podcast

Jack Spirko

Episode 0022 - Changing a child's life with gardening

July 24, 2008



This is a special episode as we go over 10 crops and 10 lessons that we can teach kids with a garden that are priceless beyond words. Tune in today to learn…

How Radishes and Greens teach that what we do now matters
How to use beans and peas to teach kids how plants “help” each other
How Tomatoes, Squash and Peppers can build a community and teach sharing
How Potatoes and Carrots teach that what you don’t see matters
How Pumpkins teach us to create our own entertainment
With Gardening in General we talk about…
How gardening teaches kids that food does not come from a store
That the life in a seed applies to the entire world
How the earth should be seen as a provider not a “resource”
That hard work pays off
That you can take care of yourself and others

This is a shorter show then normal but I think it may be one of the best so far. We need to realize that survival preparedness is best done by blending it with life on a day to day basis. To survive we need to also ensure the survival of the next generations.

Tagged garden, gardening, kids, teaching

INTRO & CLOSING SONG:  Another day, Another dollar

Hi this is Jack Spirko with another edition of  The Survival Podcast.
One man’s view of  a changing world and changing economic times dictated on a fifty mile commute on a daily basis.

You got me this time folks on a morning commute.  A beautiful eighty-three degrees. We’ve got a hurricane hitting  out South Texas but it’s not going to impact our weather in the least bit. And we actually to tell you the truth we could use some rain here so it’s too bad we’re not going to get any rain come up out of it. 

Fortunately it looks like, as hurricanes go, it’s going to be rather mild, a Category One, and its going to hit an area where they are generally prepared.  Hopefully they won’t get too much flooding ‘cause that’s their biggest concern down there.  Of course the stray tornado’s always a concern in Texas as well.
So wish those people well.

Today were going to have a show that’s going to be about teaching children lessons from gardening.

Lessons that you plant in their heart, that last for the rest of their lives and it impacts the world after you’re gone and you’ve gone on to wherever it is you believe you go after we leave here.

Before I do that though I want to remind everyone about our listener appreciation contest again by helping us grow the podcast you can win an Ipod Nano.
I looked at the Feedburner stats today right before I left the house and we are close to three hundred and we were two hundred a couple of days ago. So we have grown the audience by a third and we are thirty percent towards our goal of a thousand. Somebody is going to win that thing. It could be you.
Trust me, maybe five percent of the people who have opted into the mailing list to be notified of updates have also joined the contest.
So make sure you know the contest is one form and one page that tells you about it in the details that you can win a Nano
Just cause you’re on my email list doesn’t mean that you’re in the contest. So if you haven’t entered the contest please do. ‘Cause if you’re helping me I want to make sure you have a chance to win and  I am coming up with some ideas to give out some stuff for some other people but right now on current trends we are going to have no problem hitting our thousand listener mark before October 1st. Which means there’s going to be two Nanos given out. Which is going to be pretty good odds of winning. Even if we had a thousand members that joined the contest, that’s two in a thousand, that’s better than a lottery folks. I guarantee it’s not going to be that much. I figure I am going to be getting around fifty people entering this contest.  So your odds of winning a Nano are going to be one in twenty five. I do believe we are going to hit the thousand mark as well.

Do what you can to help grow the podcast and maybe it will pay off for you.


Now let’s get on to today’s subject.  I think this is going to be a really cool show. I think it’s going to help people start to see how important it is that we reach out to our youth because survival is not just about the individual surviving it’s about all of us surviving long term.

What we teach our next generation is what enables them to survive and to teach their next generation to survive.

You know I am in my mid thirties now and I look back to the time I spent with my grandfather Andrew in Pennsylvania where he taught me about gardening and growing crops. I realised that all of these things I am going to tell you about today that I learned them from him.

Unfortunately I had to go through my entire life for most of them to actually develop to a point where I understood them.

And that’s because as he was teaching me these things he didn’t explain them.

He didn’t say “This is what this means, this is the symbology behind it.”  And that was because he came from a different generation. 
My grandfather was part of the WWII generation. He was old enough he was even an Old Man as they called them, when he served in the Navy in World War Two. He was in his mid late twenties during WWII where most of the guys around him were 18, 19, 21 years old.  So he had that gruffness that generation carried, in a very good way I mean that. But he also came from a generation that didn’t tell a kid that “Hey groceries don’t come from a store, somebody has to grow them, somebody has to produce them.”  Because we all knew that intrinsically.

The problem is you grow up and you leave that world and you go out into corporate America and a lot of those things are lost, because they are not highly reinforced.

So part of why I wanted to  to do this podcast because a lot of this stuff has been reawakening in me.

I wanted to make sure the listeners that are out there gardening with their kids aren’t just teaching them these lessons by what they do but also by what they say.


And my ten lessons here and the following ten crops that go with them, they don’t have to be stagnant and it doesn’t have to be exactly what you use and you can change the crops and you can even change the messages, and change the lessons.

I just want to kind of explain what some of this stuff has meant to me and hopefully it will be enriching for everybody, and we’ll all kind of together start to realise what an impact we really have.

So I’ve set this format up this way: I have got this list of ten crops and out of those ten crops there’s five lessons and the lesson could go with either one or two or three of each vegetable and then I have five overall lessons that we will conclude with.

The first crop that I think is great to grow with young kids are radishes and the various greens.

You have to start with that and realise that this is a lifelong lesson and hopefully you are going to blessed enough to be able to work with the kid and do this stuff for a long time. For season after season after season.  But for that first season where they have never participated in this stuff before. Where they have never actually looked at it, considered it, and been part of it before, never done any of the work.  You want to keep them motivated.  And the one thing about radishes is you drop that little radish seed in the ground and it takes maybe 10 days to get a really nice sprout out of it, but  25 days from the time you’ve dropped that seed in the ground, you’ve got radishes.  You get quick results.  And that keeps kids motivated, and I think that’s important.

The lesson I think we learn from that, and greens work pretty much the same way, the lesson we learn from that is:

What you do matters and it often matters really fast. 

That even when you think somethings a long time, and for a kid 25 days is a long time.  For us 25 days is three weeks and a weekend added on. I mean it’s just not that much time, not even a month. You don’t even get a second mortgage payment out in 25 days.

And it will be relatively quick for a child and they’ll see it grow, see it start to grow, they’ll see how fast it happens. And your other crops are growing at the same time. But it will show them that lot of times you do something that has a consequence  and it’s going to be very swift.  It’s going to happen very quickly and it’s going to impact somebody very quickly.  Even if it doesn’t look like it’s going to do that.  And I think that that is the lesson we get from the quick growing things.   And we use those quick growing things to keep these kids motivated as they go on and continue to garden with us.
The next thing I think you should plant with your kids is beans and peas.  Peas or beans.  Your choice. Pull, bush beans, whatever you want to grow. It doesn’t really matter.  There’s a lesson in the bean as well. I talked about it before.  When you want to stay as organic as possible with your gardening, beans are your friend. Beans and other legumes put nitrogen into the soil. They help the other plants grow.  You plant beans in a bed one year and you move them to a new bed the next year. and then that same following year you plant a crop where the beans were last year.  And because of the nitrogen they put into the soil, the second crop grows better.

And what we’re teaching kids there is that Plants can help each other.

That plants exist in a symbiotic way. That they were designed that way, that they were created that way.  That nature itself supports itself. An that man is here to be it’s steward, to work with it, to encourage it, and to get the most out of it but we have to be mindful of what we do because those relationships exist. And if they can exist in a little pile of dirt in a backyard it really starts to ring home how big those relationships can be globally and all over the world.  And it means you need to think about what you do before you do something that impacts the environment.


Moving on to the next crop and the next lesson.

To me that's things like tomatoes, summer squash, and peppers. I think that those are great things for anybody to grow. Again the good thing about these is
even the peas and beans, these are all things that grow relatively quickly and start producing relatively quickly and you see a lot of growth out of them. So  again that keeps kids motivated through it all. Especially with tomatoes and summer squash, when you start to really harvest from those plants.  Man if you plant half a dozen to a dozen tomato plants, you plant four or five bushes of zucchini, you end up with so much more than you need and you can use.

And what we learn from tomatoes and squash and things like that is we need to share with others. We need to give to others. Because the only way you can get rid of all those extra zucchini and all those extra tomatoes is to give them away to other people.

So you learn that when you work hard to produce something that makes a difference, it doesn’t just make a difference to you and your family, it makes a difference for your neighbours. That’s a heck of a lesson for a kid to learn.

And it’s so simple.  The reality is you could read then a hundred stories about giving and sharing and watch TV shows about it and things like that.
You can’t make the impact of one home grown tomato handed from a six year old to an adult.

It’s the only way you’ll get that impact. And it’s something that makes what we do, we grow food for ourselves and for our families, magnified and matter even more.  It teaches a lesson there is just no other way to learn.

Moving on another crop for kids to learn with are things like potatoes, beets and carrots. And, you know, any other vegetable that produces a root is a good vegetable for this lesson.  And what we learn from that is that what you don’t see matters.

You think about it. You plant a carrot for instance, and it takes a while for a carrot to grow.   You pull a carrot out after twenty-five days you’ve got  a little tiny twig.  You have this little bushy green thing sticking out of the ground and I don’t know anyone who eats carrot greens. I guess you could eat beet greens, I like those.  But you know carrot greens you don’t really eat or the potato plant, you don’t really eat the potato plant.  These things grow under the ground, and they don’t look that exciting to a child and then toward the end of the season. You go out and you pull the carrots, beets, maybe onions, whatever it is out of the ground and you realise there’s this huge piece of food under the ground.  That what you didn’t see is the most important thing. That lesson has huge ramifications though life. It has lessons that when you talk to a person the first time you only see their surface what’s inside, what’s deep inside and who they are, matters.  That when you evaluate an idea a concept it’s the deeper thing that matters.
That lesson goes over and over and over and ripples through life. Make sure your using this method to teach it to your kids. If you don’t have your own kids
teach it to your nieces and nephews, whoever you interact with that are children.  It’s amazing what that lesson means to people.

And then another one that I think is a great crop grow with kids, and if you don’t have a lot of space you can grow some of the smaller varieties. Its’s pumpkins. You know pumpkins are fun at Halloween.  And we can teach kids by growing pumpkins that you can create your own fun.

That the land doesn’t just produce food for you it produces fun, it produces entertainment.  In a world of ipods, and I love my ipod folks, video games and TV sets and DVD players, movies and entertainment on demand and on and on and on. It’s important to remember that we can create things for ourselves that are fun. So you take that pumpkin and you use it to make  a Jack o’lantern or you just draw on it in the fall. And it also it teaches them in that lesson a kind of inner lesson, you need to plan for your future. You planted that pumpkin in the spring and maybe you harvested it when there was a little bit of frost on it going into Halloween.  You know pumpkins produce so much joy for kids. Kids love to carve pumpkins, they love to draw faces on them what have you.  You also get seeds out of the, there's more than meets the eye there again as kind of another lesson. And if you grow a few of them and don’t turn all of them into carved jack lanterns they store rather well.

Pumpkins are actually rather good food eating stuff  folks, if you grow a good food variety pumpkin. Something you can mix with your beans and maybe a little bit of corn and make some succotash, when you do a three sisters garden as part of your pumpkin growing.

 And the thing about pumpkins and some of the other things like potatoes is they store. So that can teach yet another lesson. That some of the things you produce for yourself can continue to provide for you in the future.  Seed saving is another great way to look at that.
Those are some of the crops that are fun to grow with kids and some of the lessons they  directly teach a kid and how they can make a impact on their lives in the future.  Especially if you take the time. And don’t try to throw all of this stuff at a kid.  This stuff is simple but deep. If you try to throw all of it at a kid you’re going to take the fun out of it but if you blend those lessons and maybe just every time you go out to the garden reinforce one of them every time you’re out in the garden, that consequences matter, that what you don’t see matters, just here and there sprinkle it in  throughout the fun part, those things really will stick with kids and they’ll remember them and retain them and they’ll matter for them for a long time.

Now kind of moving on from those crops and specific lessons that they teach and that’s great but planning then planting anything there’s five more big lessons that I think we teach our kids that have a big impact on our lives and these are also for kind of sprinkling in along the way across the entire season across the entire growing season from planting to harvest.  You’ve got to remember that you are dealing with an idea here that if you live in a part of the country where you get frost you are starting a lesson when the first frost comes, or first frost comes to an end. And you’re concluding that lesson when the first frost returns. That’s a long time for a kid so sprinkle that stuff in. But trust me if you do it it’s going to last

The biggest thing I think we learn from growing a garden, and adults that start gardening start to learn this lesson too, is that food does not come from a store.
I think people take food for granted and we don’t really understand where food comes from, and we don’t want our kids growing up that way in this day and age.  One of the most dangerous things you can do is take something for granted that provides you life. Without food we die. And we take food for granted
 And we don’t realise that somewhere else in the world somebody sweat and somebody worked and somebody put in a lot of effort so we could have that salad
or  you know that piece of tomato on a cheeseburger and this lesson is very very important and it makes people more independent and more self sufficient but more grateful and more gracious. And I think if  we start raising a generation of children that have a bit more grace we can make a pretty big impact on the world.

And its a great lesson to learn and it something that will never be driven home until you have dirt under your fingernails.  So take those kids out there, plant those seeds in the ground, get some dirt on your hands, get some dirt on the kid’s hands and make that impact that hey, food doesn’t come from the supermarket, it comes from somebody else. And it comes from the land somewhere else.

The next lesson it teaches kids is there’s life in a seed. 

That where you look at something that looks dark, it looks dead, it looks dry, that there could be a spark of life in there.  It could be another human being, it could be an entrepreneur, it could be a business that’s failing. If they are somebody that  wants to make a difference in the cities, it could be an urban renewal project that someone else has given up on. There’s life where there doesn’t seem to be life.

Because you take that little radish seed and put it in the ground. It’s so tiny, it’s so dry it looks like a grain of dirt and 25 days later it’s food.  You take that little tiny lettuce seed and it doesn’t even look like a seed, it looks like a little hair. You know you drop that in the ground and think what could come from that?  And you end up with a huge plant. Its the lesson of the mustard seed from the bible, and it’s a new way of looking at it.  That from these tiny little things life emerges and life continues.  It’s a huge lesson.

The third lesson to me that you get from this gardening stuff for these kids is the earth provides for us.

That we’re not here to take from the earth, we’re here to coexist with it and when we do that the earth actually provides for us.  It gives us everything that we need.  You can grow a garden on as little as an acre and produce really all the food that a family could really need.  If you had to.  Probably not the most comfortable way to live and it’s not the way I plan to live, I don’t plan to try to go 100% but it could be done. 

That the earth, it is our lifeline, it is our provider.  People that were very religious, the people that came over to this country looking at the Native Americans saw them as heathens because they basically worshipped the earth. But it wasn’t so much of a worship, it was intrinsic understanding because these people lived so close and so in touch with the earth that without the earth they couldn’t live. That the earth was the great provider for them. That yes it might have come from a Great Sprit somewhere, but itself it was the gift. That’s what we learn that’s what we teach a child when we garden.  When we take seed, put it in the ground, and produce food with it.  That the earth is a provider that needs to be protected.

Another thing we teach them is that hard work pays off. 

We’re moving into a society where people don’t really value hard work the way they used to.  They look at hard work and go “That’s where you end up if you’re not smart enough.”  You know out there on the side of the highway running a piece of equipment.  Well blue collar work like that, blue collar construction work building roads, building houses, things like that used to be pretty prestigious jobs amongst the blue collar community. That’s what people wanted to do.  If you went out and got a good construction job, worked some overtime, you could make  good living. Where today those wages have been driven down and the status has been driven down. People are doing work every day that is not meaningless.  Companies aren’t out there generally paying people to do jobs that don’t matter but they don’t really see the results of what they do and they don’t really break a sweat at work.  They sit behind a desk and type into a computer. Or they stand in a retail store and tell people where to find something. They are not actually out in the world doing something physical result that’s tangible they can feel they can see they can put their hands on.  And one thing about gardening is it is hard work.  Even a little garden is a lot of work.
It’s why I think so many people stopped doing it.  Because it’s less work go down to the job and earn enough money to buy some carrots than it is to dig up the ground and grow some carrots.  And as you continue to build and develop your garden improve the soil and do things like that it does get easier in time, but you still go out there and sweat. You still go out and get a callus or two on your hands.  And you know what? We have a generation of kids that could do with a callus or two on their hands. That could do with some sweat. That could deal with a little bit of hard work but at the same time sit down at the dinner table with their entire family  and eat a meal that’s mainly comprised with the results of their work. 

Again. You can read all these great wonderful children’s books to them. You can watch these wonderful stories that are available now on all these different cool cable networks for kids and all.  You can read books about these lessons.  You can tell a kid that hard work matters, hard work pays off.  There is nothing that will teach them the way that biting into a salad that they made will. And they’re looking across the table looking at other family members enjoying that with them. It’s an incredible lesson. And to me I think a garden is the best teacher of that lesson.  A garden and a good guiding adult that’s willing to teach it as they go.


Another thing that it teaches us, this is my final lesson, is that is that you can take care of yourself and you can take care of others.

That you don’t need to be dependant on the government. That somebody else doesn’t always come in and solve your problem. And that somebody doesn’t always come in and solve everyone else’s problems. You know, I talked about the sharing vegetables, tomatoes and zucchini.

When I was a kid and we’d get towards the end of the season and we had the huge amount of the harvest come in, because the plants would just go crazy right before the frost came. We would end up with a lot of vegetables and my grandmother did a lot of canning and jarring so that we had food through the winter. And we made things like chow chow relish and pickles and things like that and we would still end up with way too much. She would put together four or five bags a day during the peak of the harvest.  And she would write family names on them - Buretzki and Pastichon and things like that. And she would hand me a bag and say OK you know what to do with it. And I would walk up out little road and carry maybe two bags and come back and get two more and I ended up knowing everybody in my little small town. Because I just went and visited their homes and brought them something from our garden. And a lot of times they would say:
 “Oh hey wait. Do you guys have any rhubarb this year?”
 -“No we’re not growing any”
“Would your grandmother want some?”
- “Yes, I think she would.”
and then they would go and get me some. And we would exchange food with me. And that little town, that little town of Jonestown, Pennsylvania, we took care of each other there.  People that you saw only a couple of times a year, even though they lived just up the road. You’d wave to them as they drove up and down the road but you didn’t really talk to them.  But at that time of the year you became community.

And that’s a lesson you really can’t teach with a book or a TV show or a stuffed animal or anything like that.  One kid handing one tomato to one old lady, that impacts them forever. 

So these are the things I think that we can learn, and that we can teach. And remember always that you learn the most not when you are being taught but when you are doing the teaching. Teaching is the most rewarding thing that you can do. And the fact that you can take lessons like this and make them part of your own individual preparedness planning and part of your own overall preparedness plan. And making sure you have things to get you through hard times if they come, reduce your costs, eat better quality food, take care of  yourself and at the same time you can teach ten lessons like we have just gone over with a child it’s really an amazing thing.

When you sit there and think about that. It just seems that everybody should have a garden. That we were meant to have gardens.  That maybe there’s a reason the very story of creation of Adam and Eve started in a garden.

And I’d like to sum up with this final thought.

When you plant a seed with a child you plant a seed in a child.

So get out there and get involved, get some dirt on your hands, get some dirt on some little hands. Make a difference, teach. And I hope you have a wonderful day

And I hope your continuing to prepare for the life you want to live whether times get tough or even if they don’t.

I’m Jack Spirko. Thank you for tuning in to another episode of The Survival Podcast.

#Another Day, Another dollar