Sunday, October 21, 2012

It's Pumpkin Time!


If you caught my blog post from just about a year ago, you might remember that we had a pumpkin patch. It  grew from the seeds of a jack-o-lantern, and we ended up with only two pumpkins (I cheated and staged some more pumpkins from the grocery store so that every child could take one home--they never knew!).

Well, this year was a wild success in comparison!

First of all, I have to tell you where the pumpkin seeds came from. Early in the spring, I got a beautiful surprise from one of my former daycare kids, Maggie. Maggie was one of the biggest enthusiasts of the Little Hands Garden as it started to take root. She had a garden at home, and was part of the Garden Club at her preschool, so she had all kinds of tips. I enjoyed her curiosity, her excitement, her quiet observation of the tiny miracles that took place with our projects. Here she is, working with our seedlings last year:
I make a lot of special memories with all the kids in my care. However, the nature of my job as a daycare teacher requires that I say goodbye when the early years pass. I often watch a child from babyhood, through toddlerhood, and then preschool age--and those years are absolutely precious to me. I've been lucky that most of my daycare children stay for the 'long haul' through all those years...turnover is low. I treasure the time spent with all my little ones, watching them change and grow. It was time for sweet Maggie to enter Kindergarten, and her days spent here would now be spent at school. I've been through the goodbyes many times before in the 9 years I've been doing this job, and it never gets any easier! Luckily, Maggie's mom has made the transition so wonderful for us all by bringing her for visits when she has days off school. Her daycare friends and I LOVE her visits! After one such visit, Maggie and her mom decided to bring me a gift. I was so completely touched by the surprise. It was a beautiful collection of seeds, handmade seed markers, seed starter mix, a mini-greenhouse, and adorable little planting pots.

Needless to say, I was speechless at the thoughtfulness of this gift. Of the various wonderful seeds Maggie brought for me and our garden, a packet of pumpkin seeds immediately caught my eye. I knew we were going to have a great little pumpkin patch using them.

We planted the seeds the the late spring (only 6 seeds total--2 small hills got 3 seeds), and watched the pumpkins develop from tiny green bulbs to perfect little orange cuties, just like we did last summer. It is an excitement that never gets old.

This year I definitely did not have to cheat and add in a few store bought pumpkins; our tiny humble patch produced THIRTEEN perfect tiny pumpkins!

The best part about the pumpkin patch is that harvest time occurs when the rest of the summer crops in the garden are gone. It brings us back to the now brown-and-scraggly garden so that we can see the results of the summer's pumpkin babies. It keeps the garden in our minds--and for me, it gets me thinking of what fall crops we can put in, because I just don't want the growing to end! 

There is just something magical about kids and pumpkins: they adore them, and get more excited to harvest them than any of our other crops. Here we are on our journey our little pumpkin patch this week. We are officially ready for fall!

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