Rhena McCaskill Found Gardening to Be a Way to Connect with Family Members


Story by: Rhena McCaskill

Honestly, I never considered myself to have a green thumb.  I was never successful with caring for plants.  While I enjoy looking at plants and flowers, I was never good at caring for them.  I never mastered the balance of knowing just how much and when to water a plant.  Yet, I have had and maintained a vegetable garden for nearly 10 years!  I am truly surprised at how I managed to keep a garden producing vegetables that long.

As a home owner, I always wanted to do things around the house to make it aesthetically pleasing.  After all, I do not know anyone who does not take out time to admire a beautiful garden.  There was a large area of grass in my backyard that never really grew no matter what my husband tried.  So, one day my husband asked, “What do you think about planting a vegetable garden?”  I thought about it for a moment and answered, “Okay, how do you do that? You know I’m not good with plants.”  He suggested I call his mom and proceeded to tell me that when he was a child his mother planted a garden every year.  I called my mother-in-law and she was thrilled.

We looked at our schedules and identified a Saturday that she could come over to help me get started.  By phone, my mother-in-law walked me though instructions on how to prep my soil.  Then we talked about what I should plant in the garden and where to go to purchase my vegetable seeds.  My husband’s only request was to plant collard greens.  Collards are his absolute favorite vegetable.

Well, the date finally arrived.  As instructed, I turned the soil and pulled the weeds.  I had my vegetable seeds ready!  My mother-in-law looked at the backyard and was amazed at how much space we had to use.  This was a great bonding experience.  My mother-in-law explained how we were going to set up our rows and how much space to leave in between and why it was important to do so.  Just as we were getting started, my oldest son came outside. He said, “I’m helping!”  My initial thought was… this might get interesting.  I said, “Okay, Gram will tell us what we need to do.”  He responded, “Mom, I know what to do. We do this at school.”  While I knew my son’s school had a small vegetable garden, I did not know that he was involved with the project.

Over the course of 10 years, I have come to realize how much I love gardening.  My interest grew stronger in perfecting my garden as I learned more about produce recalls.  Nutrition is important and so is the health of my family.  I love knowing that I am giving my family the best by having access to fresh produce that is chemical free.  As I reflect on how gardening makes me feel, I must admit I enjoy the warmth for the sun rays, the chirping of the birds and the cool breezes that I feel while out in the yard.  I also love hearing the laughter of the neighborhood children playing and the sound of the music as the cars ride up and down the street.  I also love the compliments I receive from my husband on how great the garden looks or how he’ll just pick up the shovel or hoe without being asked to help me with the weeding.  This has become a family project and it has established a greater bond between us as we interact more and spend quality family time together. Gardening helps take my mind away from any frustration I may have.

By Rhena McCaskill

YSW Self-care: Vegetable gardening is on my bucket list. Rhena’s stories reminds us how gardening can be fun and good for you as well. I especially like the bonding that she shared with several generations in her family.

             Ola Jackson



  1. Excellent story and I always wanted to start a garden for health reasons so this story was inspiring!

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