Learning To Let Go: Gardening With Kids



peeing in the garden

Gardening with a three year old and a baby. Y’all. Help me.

After a long period of rainy weather, things finally dried up enough for us to start getting the garden in the ground. And so I cheerfully and optimistically hauled the kiddos and some seeds out to our garden plot and proceeded to participate in an activity I had no idea even existed: speed gardening.

Allow me to elaborate.

Mommy hustles at a pace she hasn’t kept since hanging up the running shoes a few years back: digging little holes for seeds, pleading with the three year old not to open all seed packets at once, running to pull grass/rocks/dirt out of the baby’s mouth. This little dance goes on until approximately 8,000,000 lettuce seeds are dumped all over the place, cucumber seeds are in the ground, and a rough layering of straw mulch is put down.

planting cucumbers

eating rocks

eating seeds

And that was our first experience in the garden for the year. Yay Spring 2015!

I’m happy to say I have somewhat adjusted to this gardening style that is my current reality. What I mean by “adjusted” is that I no longer have to come in and binge eat dark chocolate dipped in peanut butter to soothe my traumatized adrenals. I am learning to let go.

Surely plants can still grow even if they aren’t perfectly placed where I’d want them?

Surely they can survive being stomped on by a mere 30-something pound human?

Surely the strongest plants can out-compete one zillion of their kind sewn in the exact same place?

planting lettuce

all the seeds

Surely.

I sought the advice of some serious gardener friends, and have started following the ideas from Isis of Little Mountain Haven on “How to garden with children.” And dare I say it, so far so good. I’ve been bringing out blankets, toys, watering cans, and anything I can come up with to buy me a little more planting time. Of course I also encourage Bridger to participate too, even though I know I’m getting more gray hairs in the process.

supplies

blanket

blanket 2

And so each morning after we take care of the animals, we go into the garden for a few minutes and plant a few more seeds/plants until baby Quill starts to cry, telling us she’s had it and wants to go to sleep. This little routine works well for us right now because the garden is still shady in the morning so I don’t have to worry about sunburns. On extra nice days we head back out for a few minutes in the afternoon. Even with only a small amount of time each day devoted to gardening, we’re getting a lot accomplished.

I’m going to try really hard to stay on top of the heavy mulching for weed control. I started off with straw we got free from a local church after their Easter celebration, and then we’ll also use old hay from last season.

plant

transplants

cukes

I’d love to tell you exactly what we’ve planted, but I don’t entirely know. As usual, there was a mishap with the labeling system we used in the greenhouse. When the little plants get a bit bigger I’ll identify them and it will be like this little incident never happened. I know I’ve transplanted kale, broccoli, and chard, I just don’t know which varieties.

As for the things we’ve direct sown, my assumption is that if the seed packet is empty, said seeds are now planted in our garden…

seeds

And so it looks like we’ve got four different lettuces- red romaine, rocky top mix, Amish deer tongue, and some other lettuce whose exact name is torn off the packet… We went with Boston pickling cucumbers this year and my plan is to succession plant, get a ton, and make sweet relish until it’s coming out my ears. (Can you tell we’re officially out of home canned sweet relish? It’s no way to live, I tell you.)

We also put in a row of various heirloom melons, at Bridger’s request. Summer and winter squash, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, and whatever else I can think of are going in as soon as we can get back out there. Hopefully before my tomatoes end up root bound in the greenhouse…

If you have any tip or tricks for gardening with small children, please share them in the comments!

~Ashley

gardening kids Collage

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Comments

  1. oh I feel your pain! I planted our garden with the help of a 4 year old and a 10 week old puppy. No telling what will grow and where it will come up at because I am quite sure only about 25% of it actually went into the assigned rows… I kept trying to give the child different ‘assignments’ to keep her busy but each seemed to cause more damage than good! Next year I get a sitter πŸ™‚

  2. Sounds like you have a great plan in motion. But the most important thing I think I have discovered is let them enjoy it (bringing toys definitely makes it enjoyable — my youngest would bring his matchbox cars). Out of my 3 boys, only the youngest truly enjoys gardening–so much so he insisted on having and planting his own garden this year. We gave him straw bales and so far, so good. The 2 older ones where kept otherwise occupied by family members at gardening time and truly find it a chore. Keep doing it–they’ll catch on and in a couple years, planting that garden will take half the time.

  3. Everything about this was awesome. And deeply therapeutic, especially after an incident yesterday involving my 5 year old and a broken peach tree that she was just “trying to wiggle free”. I really appreciate you sharing this! πŸ™‚

  4. The beautiful hills I planted my cucumbers and okra in – well they are no longer hills and I am not entirely sure that there are actually seeds still in them. I might be buying starts in a week or two if nothing pops up. (3 year old) Great article!

  5. LOL…Love this! Sprout tries to be helpful in her 18 month old self…sometimes it’s helpful…sometimes I can actually feel my hair turning grey. Truth be told, though, I wouldn’t have it any other way πŸ™‚

  6. I have been lucky with my 2 yr old and 3 yr old. They both like helping me plant seeds in the pots and watching them grow. They do plant them rather thick though. It worked out quite well because the 2 yr old ate all the extra broccoli sprouts he planted. He was very proud that he grew them. I haven’t got to plant outdoors yet, but the kids have a fenced in area near the garden with lots of mud to play in. That keeps them quite happy most of the time. I plan to bring them out to help me for part of the time, and when they get bored and start helping less, then they can go back to their mud pies. Hopefully this works.

  7. I have been lucky with my 2 yr old and 3 yr old. They both like helping me plant seeds in the pots and watching them grow. They do plant them rather thick though. It worked out quite well because the 2 yr old ate all the extra broccoli sprouts he planted. He was very proud that he grew them. I haven’t got to plant outdoors yet, but the kids have a fenced in area near the garden with lots of mud to play in. That keeps them quite happy most of the time. I plan to bring them out to help me for part of the time, and when they get bored and start helping less, then they can go back to their mud pies. Hopefully this works. – See more at: http://www.whistlepighollow.com/2015/04/27/gardening-with-kids/#comment-25179

  8. LOL ! Little ones are great helpers! My three year old was very excited throwing carrot seeds here and there around the garden… and that was only the beginning. She tasted each kind of seeds we planted or prepared for sprouting and every time there was a new face and a “detailed explanation” of their taste. Few days later, when Dawn tasted some of the sprouts, she said they definitely taste better than the seeds. Greets!

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