Friday, February 18, 2011

Gardening with a Toddler

From Emerald Apron's snow-covered garden...

Up first, the book giveaway! The winner of my copy of Radical Homemakers is Staci! Please send your info to AbbieR31081 AT aol DOT com, and I'll get the book in the mail for you. Congratulations, and thanks to everyone who entered!

My garden last year was a failure. I admit, I didn't spend nearly as much time in it as I had the previous two years. With a new baby who always wanted to be held, it wasn't easy to get out there and work. We started off late, planting on Mother's Day instead of our usual St. Patrick's Day. We did get to harvest snap peas, lettuce, herbs, potatoes, some carrots, and even some tomatoes. But by August, our garden was a weedy mess with a few crowning sunflowers. An embarrassment. I'm determined to do better this year. And this year, I'll have the help of a toddler. (Side note: YOU GUYS... my son Joshua is almost a TODDLER! Where does the time go???)

My first Mother's Day, in our garden

Last year, I joined the Inadvertent Farmer's KinderGARDENS Challenge, and promptly dropped out. I just couldn't keep up, but I loved following along each week and checking out what the participants and their children were growing. There are some really inspirational ideas for gardening with children there and I encourage you to check out the archives!

So, my plan for this year involves less guilt, more weeding, and a lot more fun for our family. I have a few ideas for adding kid-friendly plants that I think Joshua will enjoy growing:

  • Jack-be-Littles (mini pumpkins)
  • Sugar Baby watermelons
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Strawberries (Well, adding them. We won't get fruit this year)

I think Joshua will have fun playing with his tractors and trucks in the dirt, watching pumpkins grow and picking fruit to eat. I can imagine him having fun playing with the hose, too!

How do you get your little ones involved in the family garden?


Melanie, One Wellness said...

Don't feel bad! I have had exactly the same experience with my "garden" a couple years ago! My husband mowed down my broccoli because he couldn't even see it above the weeds! It is much more fun as they get to be toddlers, plus they enjoy eating the fresh food so much! My son would pick tomatoes with me last season and start eating them on the way back to the house! Growing food with your children is one of the most valuable things you can teach them!

Rosa said...

The longer I'm a mom the more work I put into making the garden less work - I pulled out my entire annuals bed last year and put in perennial strawberries. We grouped the flowers in our "cottage style" beds and used weed cloth around one set, cover crop around another.

Last year (4 years old) mine was actually helpful, able to tell weeds from plants and ripe from green at harvest time. It really is rewarding when that finally happens :)

The one thing toddlers really upend is the "plant where you're going to be" permaculture rule - two years running my toddler son stripped all the cherry tomatos and hot peppers that were by the back door, and last year my goddessdaughter took out the tomatos when she was visiting. Convenient to me means convenient to them :)

Farmer's Daughter said...

My dad once mowed down my rose bushes, being helpful. His response: "Looked like weeds to me!" :P

Brooke said...

Radishes, particularly the multi-color, easter Egg mix. Edible flowers. Herbs, like Pineapple sage.

Green Bean said...

Check out Sharon Lovejoy's books like Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots and I think the other is Sunflower Houses.

Also, my boys love peas (snap and shelling), borage (they eat the blue flowers), any sort of pumpkins, and grapes and berries.

Have fun! and know that you will be less productive but more efficient (if that makes sense) at gardening and everything else now that you have a kid. :)

robbie @ going green mam said...

Gardening with your little ones is hard work but a blast! You will love it.

Get pint size tools (sand tools are great for little ones) and a spot for them to mess things up.

Let them water away - they will need it in the summer!

And onion sets are great for them to seeds, you do no real harm if they're not in deep, etc.

Laura said...

We had a garden last year while Liam was still under a year... it worked well because he was content to hang out and watch us... I on the other hand was overwhelmed and couldn't keep up with the produce. Since I'll have TWO this spring, we are focusing on getting the landscaping issues around the house taken care of, planting berries and a few containers. I did find a book to use next year though about kitchen gardening with kids... it broke down the garden plants/chores by month and had ideas for everything to make it simple and kid friendly! I'm excited to try little things with him this year and then teach both of them next year!

Rosa said...

Green Bean, that's so awesome that your kids like borage. Nobody here will eat it, which is a shame because it reseeds like crazy. (the bees like it though, and that's a good enough reason to keep letting it grow.)

PSI said...

A treat for parents who want to bond with their children through gardening, check out the book Growing Up Green by Charles E. Majuri


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