Gardening with young kids is much like cooking with young kids. It’s messy, slow and frustrating and doesn’t always result in something edible.
For some reason though, each spring I ignore the obvious and am blinded by optimism. We’ll plant a garden together — it will be so great! We’ll be drowning in tomatoes, fruits and vegetables!
Here are five reasons that make gardening with young children challenging. If you keep these in mind and lower your expectations you’ll have approximately 95 percent more fun this spring.
The messy part doesn’t bother me. When we’re in the garden, anything goes. And most of it goes on their heads. As long as you dress them appropriately (and by appropriately I mean naked so you can hose them off afterwards) you’ll have an easier time.
The waste can be tricky. Ever have a toddler help you spread seeds? Don’t. At least not the ones that should be spread out evenly among little holes or rows. The scattering kind where you just toss them work well. Either that or only give them a few seeds at a time. Not the whole package.
Seedlings are small
A toddler’s feet are small but they are giants compared to a seedling. Death by toddler feet is a common garden plant disease.
Limited attention span
Just when you think you are getting into the groove of gardening, they will be done. “Mama? I’m done. I wanna go inside.” It’s best to start small so you don’t have to abandon the project halfway.
I remember a couple of years ago when my toddler was so excited to “help” in the garden that he harvested all of the tomatoes for me. They were green and tiny and hard as rocks. Make sure they understand that “red means go” and “green means stop” in tomato language.
However, over the years I’ve learned that patience like this does pay off. After a couple of seasons they’ll know their way around a garden and manage not to step on anything important. Heck, they can even be helpful.
Someday you too could be drowning in ripe tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables. And if not, well, at least you had fun trying.
About the author:
Amber Dusick is one of our SheKnows Experts Among Us. She is the author of the bestselling humor book Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures. She writes and illustrates the blog Crappy Pictures where she captures the hilarious and frustrating things that happen in marriage and parenting. Find her on Twitter and Facebook.