You know that feeling you get when you see the first pop of green in the spring? Even though it's tiny, maybe only the size of a pencil eraser, that little sprout makes me so happy. It's the same feeling you get when you watch anything you've planted and nurtured grow into something beautiful and strong. Getting to see something or someone grow is one of the most rewarding and gratifying experiences ever. I should know, as a 4th-grade teacher, I'm lucky enough to see a new crop of kiddos mature and blossom each year.

While staying home during this pandemic, I wanted to maintain a healthy diet. With a lot more time on my hands, I thought I'd plant some of my favorite fruits and vegetables. However, I cringed at the idea of feuding with a groundhog or rabbit for some lettuce or strawberries. So, I did what I teach my kids to do – I did my homework!

I researched different types of gardens, and I decided to create a porch garden. When I planted my seeds in March, I was a bit skeptical. Would my garden actually grow? I'm not exactly a seasoned gardener, and I haven't had much experience with growing vegetables or fruits. Guess what? By April, sprouts were shooting up in all of my pots! I was excited and felt so accomplished.

Lounging in my backyard and smiling at my sprouts, I thought about how the seeds reminded me of my students. Give a child a rich environment, good energy, and brain "food," and they will continue to grow. I wondered if my students knew how it felt to plant something, nurture it and watch it bloom. I was curious if a garden would bring them the joy it brings me. I wanted my students to have new experiences, even while stuck at home.

I decided to provide my students with everything they needed to make their own gardens.

Within a week, I collected enough items (e.g., small trowel, garden gloves, little stones or pebbles, seeds, labels, planters, and soil) to deliver gardens to those interested in taking this journey with me.

When I dropped off garden supplies and instructions to my students’ homes, I saw eagerness in their eyes – and maybe even a little relief in their parents' eyes! They were beyond happy to step away from their screens and do something different. I was a bit nervous they wouldn't read my handwritten instructions on how to use the supplies, but, as often happens, they surpassed my expectations. They began sending me messages and pictures detailing their gardens' growth.

I cannot wait to see my students' faces when they harvest the results. I did warn them that they had to be patient, and I would be back to check on their gardens in a month. This week, during our weekly video meeting for class, one of my parents shared that she was so happy to see her daughter excited about something other than her phone. She exclaimed, "I have never had a teacher visit my home for something good!" I smiled because I felt another seed I planted had just bloomed.

How to plant your very own porch/patio garden:

  1. Obtain everything you will need (small shovel or big spoon, garden gloves, little stones or rocks, seeds of your favorite fruits and vegetables, labels, planter/container, and soil).
  2. Punch holes in the bottom of your plant container for good drainage.
  3. Put on your gloves.
  4. Add about ten rocks (just to cover the bottom of the planter).
  5. Fill each planter with soil.
  6. Use your index finger to poke a two-inch hole in the soil. Make sure to space the holes out according to the spacing needs found on the seed packets. Most plants need about 6 inches between plants.
  7. Put 1-2 seeds into each hole then cover them with soil.
  8. Pack the soil tight and water your seeds.
  9. Track and water your seeds daily.
  10. Enjoy your harvest!