Gardening with a 2 and 5 year old

littlegoth(Zone 8)February 19, 2008

I have two little ones, and I would like to get them started/interested in gardening, but I have no idea where to start.

Should I make them each a small raised area (maybe 5X5) and then let them pick out plants from a catalogue I have and help them plant them?

Should I just do my own thing and let them help?

Should I get the bigger one tools to help me, and let the little one use her big sister's tools?

Should I start a small themed garden that they help me in?

Any and all ideas and suggestions are welcome!



Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would definitely get them involved. I wish I had with my now 12 yr old. I am sure others will have suggestions who have done so with little one on what worked and did not work for them. I remember when I was little my gf gave me a giant sunflower in a pot. I would check everyday to see of the seeds were ready to harvest. That could be a good starter. If I remember right the head of the sunflower followed the sun during the day.

Good luck and enjoy your gardening with your little ones.


    Bookmark   February 19, 2008 at 8:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Gardening with kids is fun and rewarding to all involved. You can give them their own garden or a part of yours. I've had better luck with giving them a row or three in my gardens. The ultra small raised bed (maybe 3' x 3') didn't work as well as I hoped and rows in the main garden beds just grow so much better. I ask my kids what they would like in the garden - their stuff to grow. This year I got popcorn and spinach from one and lettuce and snow peas from the other. With real tiny ones as you have, you might try sunflowers (as suggested), marigolds (real easy for kids to grow and pick!), baby carrots, lettuce (as long as it isn't terribly hot where you are lettuce is ultra easy to grow), or whatever else your kids may have a taste for.

Get them their own tools (an inexpensive garden trowel) and gloves. It makes it special. Get them a kid sized watering can - one for each is absolutely required. I fill a bucket and let the kids dip into that to fill their watering cans. So much easier and water saving than a hose. Show them what needs watering - even in your gardens and they will be busy for hours.

If your little one doesn't understand enough to really help, make a little spot for her to just dig in the dirt. That is how my youngest started. He could dig holes and fill them in all day long. Make sure to thank her for her help too! ;)


    Bookmark   February 22, 2008 at 4:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
silverwind(z5 IL)

Oh boy, are you in for some fun! :)

Mine are 7(8 this summer) and 2(3 this fall). Last year my little one helped by ..mixing the ground. She would sit for minutes at a time, just tearing up the dirt in one corner and watching it pile up. :D

My son enjoys the garden - just not quite 'getting' it yet, but he's trying. He'll be getting strawberries from grandpa, and he helps water and, of course, pick-and-eat-before-we-get-in-the-house. Daughter does too... just different food. :)

For seeds, I would probably let your older plant their own lettuce, marigolds, snapdragons. There all really easy, and pretty quick to show growth, also.

Your younger one will probably be happy (YMMV!) with dragging water and supplies to you (and away from ;) ) and picking out plants to try.

I'd like to recommend you visit the Winter Sowing forum here, also, it's so very easy to start seeds this way. Near to no $$investment, and they don't take up space inside, either. :) And that way they'll get to see the whole process, instead of just getting full-grown plants from a flat or something similar.

Things *you* could do for them - make pea/bean/morning glory tunnels to crawl through, sunflower houses, teepees.

And I second the suggestion for two sets of gear and tools!! It makes it less stressful, and more fun, without having to stop and trade things, or scold. ;)

If you really want to let them each have their 'own' area, I'd try pots first. If interest wanes mid-season, it's easier to move pots to where it'd be convenient for you, instead of you having to care for separate boxes.

Good Luck!! :D

Here is a link that might be useful: Winter Sowing Forum

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 12:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
plant-one-on-me(MI 5b)

I would make a raised bed not more than 3' wide for each kid. Theme gardens are fun. A fun theme is spaghetti: tomatoes, peppers, onions, herbs and most importantly spaghetti squash. We actually harvested the veggies and made a sauce and poured over the spaghetti from the squash. The squash takes up a lot of room so allow it to spill out into the yard. If there is not enough room for the squash you can always make a sauce and pour over pasta or buy a spaghetti squash from the farmer's market. Well not to sound like I cheated but one year a squirrel ate a hole in our only squash so I bought one and placed it in the garden and let the kids "pick" it...we then had a great spaghetti dinner.

Be sure to add very quick growing and harvesting vegetables such as radish and bush beans. Before planting the beans, dampen papertowels and lay the seeds on top. Place in a zipper bag and put in a warm location. Have the kids check on them daily. They sprout very quickly. Once sprouted plant outside and have the kids check daily to see how long it takes to pop out of the ground.

Most importantly, smaller and quicker growing is better to keep their interest. They can also add garden art such as plant markers they make themselves. My 3 year old granddaughter "planted" a pinwheel in hers last year and loved to watch it spinning in the wind. Oh yeah, don't forget to add a couple flowers that the kids can pick before dinner to decorate the table while they eat all the great veggies they grew.

Hope you all have tons of fun! Kim

    Bookmark   March 11, 2008 at 3:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

my son is 3. When he has been watering my roses since he was about 20 months old...maybe younger....he would get himself wetter than the roses sometimes but he seems to do better with the hose and sprayer than his watering can. he is now just 3 this month and about a month or so ago I found directions and printables for a wonder pets egg carton herb garden on nick jr 's website. he has made one for all 4 of his grandparents and his nanny and one for home. I picked 12 herbs rather than the 6 they showed in the pic s he got to pic a few too. he likes watering them...and loves filling the carton with dirt and poking the holes for the seeds...LOL

The date on these say he is 17 months here...LOL...sure kept him busy and happy

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 3:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Agree with the above,
Kid + hose, watering can, or other water container = happy (but wet)kid.

Kid + digging tool of any sort = happy (occupied for several minutes) kid.

Kid + strawberries, tomatoes, peas or other organic edible = happy kid (and happy mom).

Kid + rocks to arrange/pile up/ put in bucket/ etc. = happy occupied kid.

My 1 and a half year old does all the above, while my 2 and a half year old actually recognizes some plants, weeds and does a big of actual helpful gardening. I'm planning to give them their own little patch this year, but I'm guessing they will prefer to be right by me so I'm not confident that will work right away.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2008 at 1:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
moonsanity(Zone 5)

I agree with all of the above, and LOVE the pics!
My daughter is 8 now and we've been growing nasturtiums since she was very small. They are SO easy to grow and the seeds are big enough for them to sow without a problem.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 11:53AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We have 2 and 4 year old girls and we just let them help. They have been picking our veggies since they were both 1 and they help in the garden. This past week I flipped the garden and they were both running around holding worms. Afterwards I had them "Feed the Worms" they spread peat moss and compost while I mixed it in. Easter this year they got gardening tools and have been loving them.

The attention span depends on the day, but we drag out all their toys when we have a whole day to do yard work. This past weekend I figured out a couple lounge chairs, a tarp and some zip ties make a great quick and easy tent. a good 2 hours of extra gardening was gained. We got 5 hours of work in and they were outside the entire time. Looked like coal miners when we finally bathed them.

Finally I purchased pumpkin and watermelon seeds for them this summer thinking they would really be fun to watch grow. They both love sugar snap peas and we catch them strolling into the garden, grabbing a couple and chowing down. it's a lot of fun best of luck.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 7:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I suggest you give your kids each a small alotment. Put a sturdy pole in the ground in the middle of each alotment and attach a solid chain to it. Then handcuff your kids to the chain and give them some small gardening tools (kids stuff: they shouldn't be able to dig too deep). (Note: the chain should be long enough, so they can reach all corners of their alotment.) Keep them chained for a few days, while you go along your business. They will figure it out sooner or later. Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2008 at 6:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Give you two year old a large pot to plant seeds in. My once 2 year old had a sunflower, corn, petunia, and marigold in one pot. She was so proud of it. A five year old could probably handle a small bed. Or a pot of her own is just plain fun. Let them decorate signs to show off there gardens.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2008 at 10:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have two girls: 2 and 4-1/2. My 4yo has been helping me in the garden since she was 1 year or so...I planted a cherry tomato bush for her and she loved loved to pick them and eat them one after another. She always liked to hold the hose. By the time she was two she had learned to dig for worms, and we talked a lot about being gentle with them, holding them only for a minute, and then putting them back into the ground and covering them with dirt. She likes to help dig, sprinkle seeds, use the hose, and this year we started two worm bins. Both kids really enjoyed shredding/dipping/wringing/fluffing the newspaper and gathering leaves to make a home for the worms.

The double-watering-can idea is a great one - we have lots of scuffles over the hose, and the older one likes to water the younger one with it, which rarely ends well. Tomorrow we're getting watering cans!

Last year I planted a sunflower house with all greystripe sunflowers. It produced over a hundred awesome flowers, but I wish I had planted them closer together (more than 1 per foot) because the leaves never got close enough to make thick walls. So this year I went crazy with seed catalogs and bought 10+ varieties of sunflowers in all colors, sizes, heights, etc. There's one called "American Giant" which is supposed to be 16+ feet tall. I'm going to try to make a better house, and they can help me dig and sprinkle.

My 2yo now demands that we dig for worms whenever we set food in the back yard, and if she finds one, the other one comes running. If she finds a slug, she picks it up and says, "Nasty slug get me!" (trans. "Nasty slug tried to get me." Today she found a small rock and thought it was a slug. When I told her it was a rock, she said, "Dirty rock get me!" Two years ago we planted strawberries given to us by a friend with a surplus of plants, so we've talked about how flowers turn to fruit, and how the bees and such do their part. In the summer the girls beg to go and check for strawberries and raspberries every day. These have never made it back to the house. :-)

The thing I struggle with the most is when they spill something valuable - like when the two year old poured the bucket of organic fertilizer I had mixed into the grass. And last year when I had my back turned for a few minutes turning soil over, they opened every package of beans (probably about 2+ cups total) and mixed them into their tiny bucket with dirt. 0_o So we just sprinkled them all over and had a mixed bean jungle later that year. I constantly remind them to please not step onto the dirt that I have just planted things in (esp. the potato bed!!) and of course they do so I just try to remind myself that kids who love being outdoors and learn that gardening is fun are more important that a reduced potato yield. (Duh!)

They love looking at seed racks, and so I usually let my 4yo pick out a package of flower seeds. There's an old cement double-basin sink in our backyard that we filled with dirt and last year she put in anemones and nasturtiums. This year she picked out sweet peas. We got a flower-seed catalog, so just for kicks and giggles I gave them a packet of sticky notes and they used up the whole package marking what they would like to plant in the garden. Most days they end up completely soaked and/or muddy, and I've learned to send them out barefoot. As of right now there are no fewer than 7 pairs of shoes drying on the back porch.

We're still working on helping me weed, since they can't (yet) tell the difference between a weed and a plant that we want to keep.

They do have their own buckets and shovels, but even today they eschewed those for the "real" tools. My 2yo grabbed the 6-ft shovel and my 4yo grabbed the rake and they went to town on the newly planted bed of kale and chard.

I've discovered that unless the sprinkler is on, they usually just want to do what I'm doing, and the hardest part is keeping up with them (i.e. digging a hole fast enough for the seeds they're dropping).

Gardening with kids is an adventure for me and them!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 11:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi, everyone! I'm usually on the Butterfly and Oklahoma Gardening forums, but saw this one and thought I'd check it out.

I started butterfly gardening with my granddaughter when she was 3 years old. She is 6 now. She loves to help nanna find caterpillars and eggs, and feed and clean the cages, and watch them grow big, form their chrysalis, and emerge as a butterfly. This has turned out to be a fun activity for her.

We also grow a few veggies, etc., for her to watch and eat! We grew strawberries this year, and it's so cool to watch her pick them and eat them straight from the garden. We don't use pesticides because of our butterflies.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2008 at 10:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have three kids myself. My oldest daughter just turn 6 in April and my other daughter will turn 5 in Oct then there is my son who will be 3 in Sept. I only have a flower garden (landlord said no to the veggies) so they help me a little but mostly to pick the flowers. They all love to help me dig so yes you need tools their size. I remember when I was younger my mom and her parents had a veggie garden my brother and sisters and I helped ever since we could walk. I remember helping my grampa make the hills and poke the hole and drop the seeds in. Now that he is gone it is one of my best memories, time spent with papa in the garden. Us kids had pumkins and watermelons the rest of it was what the adults wanted. We use to put powered milk on the base of the pumkin plant and then water them, they got realy big we won ribbons in the 4H culb. What ever you deside to do with the kids make sure they have fun and they will remember it and love the memory

    Bookmark   May 5, 2008 at 11:55PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I only know what worked for me. It wasn't a structure project or lesson plan type of thing, but very relaxed teaching as we went. Dad began by letting me follow him around the garden and make mud pies, use a spoon to dig and eat tomatoes as it pleased me. Then I helped him plant mother's fav flowers-sweet peas.
As I got a little older he gave me specific tasks--like teaching me to sow a row of flower seeds and thin the seedlings. They gave their own reward--I was allowed to cut enough to have fresh bouquets on the kitchen and coffee tables at all times. Later, it was help pick strawberries and lettuce, then the itchy tomatoes and beans and learn to pull onions.
Finally, he asked if I would like a space for my own garden to take care of completely--the first one was about 2'x 2'. He asked what I wanted to grow--pinks that were fragrant and had "eyes." I had grown them with him and felt I knew how. He gave me simple directions for each new task and never found fault. Gardening with him is one of my best memories.
Then mom taught me to can tomatoes, beans, beets and pickles. The rest is history.
I wouldn't buy child tools, etc. Using adult tools was one thing that made it seem like I was doing something very important. I have found that cheap tools are just that and don't work as well...leading to frustration even for me. I always had a lot of good tools for everyone--especially hand spades.
I have two girls and it worked with only one, but it is great to have her share my passion. One of her two has developed the passion too. They grow all the ingredients for salsa and she is learning to can too.
gramma jan

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 11:32PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
thanks for this description. çÃÂìçÃÂ...
Can anyone identify this plant???
I think it may be a chinese evergreen. I am obviously...
Avocado tree?
is this a avocado tree? I'm sending some pictures....
Cute site for kids!
Hi forks, DD's teacher sent us to this site beestar...
Help with school project
I work in 9 different schools running Girl Scout troops...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™