A Little Dirt Never Hurt

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My mom recently sent me a picture of a large mason jar filled with dirt. The dirt had been swept up (by her) from the hardwood floors of my parents’ farmhouse.  She wasn’t commenting on the color or texture of the dirt. It was plain Missouri hill dirt.

And I knew exactly what it meant—gardening season had begun.

My Dad is a prolific gardener. I believe the man could sweet talk a tomato plant out of a bean hill. Not that he talks to his plant. That would be too obvious. And too sentimental for my reserved father. If you were raised by a master gardener, you know what late winter and early spring looks like.

Even though I am hundreds of miles from that Missouri farm, I can see dozens of tiny little plants lining kitchen cabinets and the dining room table.  It does not matter that my parents have a beautiful greenhouse—every square footage is filled with bags of mulch, more tiny plants and gardening tools. Muddy boots stand at attention at doorways (which is why my mom was so flummoxed at the amount of dirt she swept up) and the UPS man has started delivering baby trees. Did you know you can have a baby tree delivered?

My own childhood was filled with days spent in the garden; this was primarily involuntary and unpaid work.  We weeded acres of strawberry fields, dug up hills of potatoes, and knew exactly the size of a cucumber to pick. One can’t let them grow too big; they taste bitter otherwise.

Gardening is hard, dirty work. It doesn’t yield instant results, and much effort must go into the planning and planting processes.

But once it’s time to harvest, wow! There is something magical about coaxing scrumptious and healthy fruits and veggies from the earth.



As I type this, I could probably sweep up my own mason jar of dirt. This dirt, however, would include crunched up potato chips, tiny paper pieces from a mosaic project we worked on a few weeks ago, and the remains of dried nature project.

My dining room table is relatively empty of mess, but by this evening it will be piled with grammar notebooks, a poetry course we are taking, and a large map of Great Britain. There will probably be a couple of loads of dirty laundry that need my attention, but might not get it.

The remains of breakfast and lunch will stay out until I get it put away AFTER supper. We’ve been too busy taking advantage of the sunshine and the early smells of spring too worry about such mundane things. We are plotting out a butterfly garden and taking photographs of the swollen river flowing behind our house.

There will probably be some tears over a math assignment this week, most likely mine. I will spend a few minutes wondering where I went wrong, and then gather myself up once again and start over.

Homeschooling is a messy business. There will be rooms of your home that will never be the same. It is possible your laundry pile will never grow smaller. You are almost guaranteed a meltdown over fractions during any given week. You will get disapproving comments and looks from family and strangers all in the same day. You will spend endless nights awake wondering if you made the right decision to homeschool in the first place.

But take heart, my sweet friends. Just like the mess and dirt of my Dad’s garden, your homeschool will eventually bear fruit. It will be glorious fruit. Worth every sacrifice and every messy moment. And keep in mind, some fruit is easier to tend than others. You will have those in your homeschool that take a bit more time to take root and to grow; they might need a few seasons of careful nurturing.

Just keep tending, weeding, and watering.  Just keep going.


P.S. I have created some fun gardening printables just for our homeschool. They are FREE and can be found on my blog.


Rebekah Teague is the homeschooling mama to one busy and beautiful boy. She is married to The Muffin who is a pastor and a really great guy. In her spare time she can be found with a book and a cup of tea. She blogs at There Will Be A $5 Charge For Whining

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).