Gardening With A Toddler
Gardening with a toddler.
Oh Lord help me.
I frequently feel that those words should never EVER be in the same sentence together.
Before Finn started walking, I envisioned him toddling behind me, helping me pull weeds and dribble seeds into rows.
As he got older, and more mobile, the real truth of the experience came out.
Guys, gardening with a toddler is no joke.
Finn turned 2 a few months ago, and he wants to be everywhere I am and do everything I am doing. Most of the time I love it, even though it slows me down and makes things harder. Eventually, I am counting on it evolving into him actually being helpful as he get older. But man, right now this gardening with a toddler business is challenging.
Here is how our first month of gardening together has gone.
“Remember, just walk on the dirt, not the green plants. See there is a nice path of dirt for you. NOOOOO, STOP! Those are my cabbage plants! (Said plants were at least a foot wide and 6 inches tall. Not exactly easy to miss seeing.) Let’s pull all these little green weeds. Don’t touch the BIG green plants. Hey! Don’t pull up the tomatoes!” Etc…
Several times, it resulted in him just being banished from the garden for the rest of the time I was working in it, and sometimes he ended up in my lap. (Not a lot of weeding can get done with a 35lb kid in your lap, just FYI.)
He has slowly progressed, and has managed to successfully do a little weeding with me with only a few pepper and tomato leaves stripped. He does have a tendency to declare that we are “All done with fweeds” about 3 minutes into the weeding process, but we are SLOWLY getting there.
The things that have worked for us to slowly integrate more gardening with a toddler are:
- Have them assist in planting the bigger seeds. (Beans, Okra, Beets, Squash, etc.)
- As the plants grow, let them just watch you for a week or so while you explain what you are doing and point out rows and plants VS weeds.
- Gradually start letting them help you mulch, weed, and “hoe”. Start with very short time segments. Most toddlers’ attention spans are not super long.
- Let them help harvest!
This last point is the most fun I think! It also helps make them a lot more interested in eating the fruits and vegetables when they get to help pick them straight from the garden.
Now, all that being said, there are still lots of times when a bunch of work needs to be done quickly, and without 200 toddler interruptions.
My strategies are, first and foremost- work when they are asleep! Early morning is my favorite, but evening and nap time can be used in a pinch. I also like to set him up with his own tiny garden plot, and turn him loose with a little hand trowel, sunflower and bean seeds. It can even be just a couple big pots for them to plant in! Or divert them with another outdoor activity while you furiously chop weeds with the hoe. 🙂
Here’s to all of us attempting to garden with a toddler and not completely lose our minds!
Ps: I think he ran away about 10 times during the time I was trying to take these pictures. Then he started laughing maniacally and ripping leaves off my lemon balm and mint and stomping on them. Real life, guys.