Gardening with small children, it's impossible right? I used to think so too.
But it can be done, I promise. You don't have to be superwoman either. I'm just an ordinary, busy mum with 3 little ones at home. I'm not an expert gardener by any means, but I do have kitchen/veggie garden. That's my garden in the above picture. Want to know how I do it?
Well firstly, I try and keep it fun! I call my kids my big helpers when they come out with me. The baby sits in the pram while the others walk. Our garden is right near our house, so it's not a big deal to go there.
Also if you're a bit of a control freak, you're going to have to learn to let go. Yes it's hard. But I know you can do it.
Other things I do, in no particular order:
- Use raised beds at their level. It's easy for them to see and reach everything.
- Give them diggers/shovels. Allow designated "digging areas" where they are allowed to dig and areas that are "out of bounds".
- Give them the watering can. When I hose, I fill the watering can up (only 1/3 way up so they can lift it) and they can water to their heart's content!
- Let them help plant the bigger seeds, like corn, peas and beans. I dig a little trench for the seeds and show them how to plant the first few. They get a handful each to plant. They're never planted perfectly! If they're really terrible, I sometimes even them out a bit. Mostly I just thin later on.
- Plant exciting things for them to eat. We have strawberries all over the garden. They have to travel to the corners to go and find them! Also plenty of tasty, sensory herbs for them to pick along the way.
- Plant radishes and pak choy! Kids love fast results and these sprout in 4 days. They're exciting to grow and you'll be eating them in a few weeks. Kids always ask to plant carrots but they're oh-so-slow to grow. It seems like forever in kid years. Plant some radishes alongside the carrots and you'll have happy little gardeners.
- Have a shaded area and somewhere to sit near the garden for when they've had enough.
- Have another activity nearby, for when they want a break. We have the trampoline set up near the garden, so they can go for a jump, and then come back again. Sometimes we take their bikes/trikes.
- Let the children carry the harvest basket.
- Don't go out in the heat of the day. Mornings are best.
- Plant different coloured, exciting things. Kids are really visual. If something looks exciting, they're much more interested in growing it/eating it.
- Give them an important job to do! I always ask the kids to go and get me a particular herb. They learn quickly what's what and eat handfuls along the way.
- Put signs up in the beds identifying plants and teach them to read them as you go along.
- Give them a growing pot of their own. Kids love ownership. Let them choose what they'll plant in their pot and let them take care of it. Come harvest time they're usually ridiculously proud of themselves and want to eat every little bit!
- Mini wheelbarrows are lots of fun. I fill it with weeds and get the kids to wheel it around to the compost heap and empty it. Sometimes they get to wheel veggies back to the house.
- Read fun books about gardening. There are plenty of good ones. We've read Jack And The Beanstalk hundreds of times! The kids love to fantasize about how big their plant might grow.
- Eat along the way. Don't wait to get inside. Stomachs are a huge motivator. The kids love nothing more than to eat a freshly picked pea, bean, carrot or radish. Outside taps make washing things as you go easy.
- Let the children give excess produce away. They're allowed to carry the bag of excess bounty to family and friends.
- Let them give guided tours to family and friends when they come to visit.
- Start with a small garden. It's tempting to plant everything when you first plant a garden. Resist the urge. Trust me!
- Learn to accept some losses. Toddlers love to pull things out. Distractions in the garden work wonders though. Keep 'em busy all the time!
- Accept gardening takes longer with children! Gardens happen in their own good time anyway.
Most importantly, try and keep it fun for yourself. If kids see you are having fun and enjoying something, they are much more likely to enjoy it as well!
Teaching kids to grow their own food is one of the most satisfying things ever. Getting them involved is actually easier than you might think.
So do you garden with little kids? Do you have any tips you could add to the list or things you do to make things easier? I'd love to know!