Little Hands, Big Plans

By Archer Honigschmidt and Sage Swenson
(with a little help from their mamas)
Photography by Chasity Whittington

As winter was closing up shop in Austin this year, two small-but-mighty dreamers were busy at work planning their spring gardens and chatting about what gardening means to them. Meet Archer (age five) and Sage (age six) and learn from these experienced growers what’s best to plant to ward off zombies, which veggies are friends and what smells good when you bump it.

ARCHER: “I like to garden because you get to make stuff naturally. You can get food without using any inside things, like restaurant food. You can just step outside and grab the food in your backyard. You only need water, a watering can, dirt, seeds, a bed and then we give our food love. I want to plant sunflowers…they make seeds to eat and bring butterflies …watermelon…it’s just delicious all the time, a pizza garden, herbs and peas for my grandparents. My grandparents like peas. I think all grandparents like them. I want to put a faerie garden in the corner to protect my plants. Faeries eat bugs off the plants. It helps them grow. A faerie garden has faerie statues, a tiny little house, tiny acorn hats and big and small shiny blue magic crystals. In the pizza garden, I will have tomatoes for pizza sauce, herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary for seasoning, broccoli for on top and with my ranch dressing.… I wish I could plant a ranch dressing plant!... stinky onions for our pizza and to push away the zombies who try to come steal our plants. I want worms and I will grow grass to put on top of the worms. I wonder what DO worms eat? I think they eat what I eat then they make mud. I’ll put the mud in my garden to help my plants grow. I can put my compost in my garden too. That will help me get more vegetables. I think a garden needs to be all around my house. We need a big garden bed that is tall and has wood around it. I will fill that up with dirt and seeds. I want to plant seeds by the mailbox too. It will look pretty when I check the mailbox. I can get the mail and a vegetable all by myself! Maybe my neighbor friends can get vegetables if they are by the mailbox, too! They won’t have to go to a restaurant; they can come to my house to eat!”

SAGE: “I like to garden because you get to get dirty and eat what you grow. It makes me hot and thirsty and really hungry. Sometimes things grow really fast like lettuce, but sometimes it takes a long time for things to be ready to eat—like watermelon. In our old garden, we had tomato plants almost as tall as my dad! I had to climb inside between them to pick the tomatoes we couldn’t reach from the outside. I liked to eat the sugar snap peas, but I don’t like the outside. I unzip them, eat the peas then give the outside part to the dogs. It was a really big garden. We had tomatoes, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, peas, beans, corn, broccoli, onions and a bunch of other stuff. I liked to help pick sometimes, but not if it was hot outside. Now we have a small garden, but I think we should make it bigger. Right now we have lettuce, kale and one tomato plant. We’ll plant more tomatoes soon. We’re going to plant carrots next weekend. I think we should plant some sugar snap peas. We’re also going to plant strawberries and spinach. They like to grow next to each other; they’re friends. My mom likes to eat them together, but I don’t really like spinach. We have herbs in pots, but I think we’ll build a new bed for them. I like the way rosemary smells when you bump it. It’s nice to have things you like to eat right outside. Then you don’t have to go to the store. You just walk out in the backyard and get what you need!”

Sage Swenson is a third-generation Austinite who became an avid gardener at the tender age of three. Archer Honigschmidt wanted a big garden for his fifth birthday last summer, but put it off because of drought conditions. He’s thrilled to finally make it happen this spring.