Canning, Gardening, and Kids – Oh, MY!
Since we’ve been on the subject of canning all week, let’s talk about canning and children.
Children who are old enough ought to help. Little ones ought to stay away. Too much is going on for you to trust yourself to watch them carefully. All that blanching and lugging jars adds a safety factor with which they are too young to cooperate, and one act of confusion or disobedience could be disastrous.
So draw a line and make it stick. This is a time when high chairs, play pens, door gates, etc., are proper for the safety of precious little ones.
Let me tell you how we enlisted our children’s help in the garden when the days were blistering hot. We woke them at daylight, and had them dress quickly and go directly to the garden with us. Everyone had an assignment, only 30 – 45 minutes worth of work.
Each one managed his own row, which he kept weeded and proudly displayed to guests. Really, the garden looked good.
The youngest one’s work was to play nearby without walking on garden plants or eating dirt.
Then it was back to the house for our reward. On these days we would have treat-type breakfasts such as cantaloupe and ice-cream, oatmeal raisin cookies, fruit juice popsicles, strawberries on cereal, frozen chocolate-dipped bananas, cheesecake with blackberry sauce—whatever they considered rare and delightful. They loved it! They knew how hot the world would be by 10:00, and they seemed to appreciate my organizing things this way.
Then if we HAD to work in the heat, we would take quart jars of ice water with us and drink straight from the jar. They loved this, too. When such hot work was done, their daddy would throw them squealing into our large stock tank (which was kept for the children, only, and was un-licked-upon by any livestock) and they had water play in their work clothes.
These types of rewards were the heartbeat of our children’s summer gardening memories. They are adults, now, and still remember it with smiles, still do gardening, themselves.
Sometimes they fussed a little or grew competitive, but often the sweet sounds coming from the early morning garden rivaled those of the birds.
Tomorrow: recipes for the surplus!