Gardening with a three year old in tow...

southerngardenchick(7)December 3, 2008

OKAY... I do realize that I've got a hard task ahead of me. Last summer I did my first garden, a little plot in front of my house. This year, we're expanding to a couple of other yards, which means I'm gonna have to have my three year old with me CONSTANTLY while working on them. Just wondered if anyone else had any experience working with a kiddo in tow, and had any advice on what to do to keep him from tearing up jack! Besides duct tape...

I DO want him to learn what I'm doing and enjoy digging in the dirt as much as I do...

THANKS in advance for any advice!!!

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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan(5B SW Michigan)

Have him "help" with things that won't get messed up easily. Take a few toys and a blanket along for a defined playspot when you need him out of the way or he loses interest in the gardening. It's great to include him but not so great to force him to stay involved when he's had enough for one day. If you have an area that isn't planted right away maybe he would enjoy pushing a toy car, truck, or bulldozer around in it. I find having a variety of things available works well since one never know just what will interest a young child on any given day :)

A small lightweight watering can is also good to include. It lets children help with watering without washing everything away as a hose in their hands might do. A pail for collecting stones, weed roots, grubs, etc. can be fun, and helpful at times, too. Bring along a snack to eat and drink to break up the time and add another fun element.

Planting something that can later be eaten keeps some kids interested in coming back time and time again. Letting your son chose his own plant(s) at the garden center is good, too. Maybe give him a few preselected ones to choose from so you don't end up with him wanting something that just won't work.

....And keep the gardening times short, if possible.

Have fun. Kids say and do some funny things in the garden. And they may amaze you with their observations.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2008 at 1:17AM
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southerngardenchick, I have a two year old that just loves to garden with me, he has to go in with me every day. When I was preparing the garden this year I let him take in his plastic bucket and shovel that worked very well and when it was time to transplant i let him push the dirt on some of the transplants although that did'nt last long. He loves to pick and eat the cherry tomatoes and the peppers, he does'nt eat the peppers just picks em. I would suggest planting a very prolific cherry tomatoe that he/she can just pick away at. After awhile my son would only pick the ripe ones, I guess he realized that they tasted better then the green ones. if you make it fun for them they will love being in thier as much as us.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 9:24PM
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My son wil be 3 in march. He loves to dig for worms. So I started him a worm farm so he can torture them and not my plants. Well he has jacked up my fancy radish bed 3 times! He leaves the normal radish alone? He loves to pick tomatoes (sungold) last year. I had a pumpkin patch for him but ya know squash is just to scratchy to be fun. We got him a little tikes out door sink for his birth day this year. With that and a little bucket to pick tomatoes for his mom I think we will have lots of fun this summer.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 5:49PM
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I taught my children when they where young how to identify a Dandilion, and instructed them to pick as many as they liked, (but never to touch the white ones that had gone to seed, last thing you need is them blowing everywhere! I typically collect those very carefully to avoid the seed spreading).

My neighbour as horrified convinced that once they grew tired of or found all the dandilions, they would head over to her garden and start plucking everything, which was ridiculous because I had 100's of flowers myself! Really thouggh, with very few exceptions, even at 3 they understood not to touch other flowers and where happy enough with just the dandilions! So... Maybe you can help teach him how to collect dandilions, or perhaps how to deadhead a marigold.

The watering can thing works well. Helps if you give them a small can, and fill up a small swimming pool with water for them to get more water from, or they will drive you nuts asking to get water every 30 seconds, or transition to the hose in a blink of an eye!

another idea is a water gun, my kids loved shooting the plants to give them drinks of water! Prevents them from overwatering too!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2009 at 10:31AM
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mediadiva(Zone 7)

well my nearly 2yo likes to copy me, so giving the child their own pot with soil in it and a few spare bulbs to "plant" with their own little gardening tools is always good. I have my daughter play in our sandbox but I don't think you could have that. A bubble machine or something to blow bubbles with.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2009 at 1:25PM
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I have a few tricks with mine.

If it is warm out, I set up the sprinkler and I place it so it can water some of my beds and then cascade back out to the lawn where my daughter can run through it. Waters plants and she loves to play in it.

I put two or three different snacks in the little half size plastic bags along with a drink on her picnic table and put the little umbrella up. If she starts to get a little tired or has had too much sun, she has a great place to sit in the shade and wait for her second wind.

She has a little shovel, trowel, pail, etc and I give her areas to play in and dig. I also identify weeds and show her how to pull them out and collect them in her pail. She is thrilled to show me how many she has in there (sometimes there are some that weren't weeds as well, but that is what you get for child labor ;-)

If I am planting flowers, she either holds the plant so I can spread the dirt back in or vice versa. If I am weeding or pruning, I use a bin that is light enough that she can drag it around with me.

I sometimes fill a 5 gallon bucket with water and she runs back and forth to use it to fill up her little watering can and water whatever she wants.

She loves daisies so I have different varities planted all over the yard. She is allowed to pick any daisies that are in bloom so she will run from bed to bed to see if there are blooms so she can make a "bouquet."

She probably spends half the time with me and half the time doing the other things I have set up on her own and I get a few hours to work in the garden. Priceless!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 12:56PM
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Thank you for all the great ideas! Please keep them coming!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2009 at 9:35AM
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I love gardening with my kids (4 and 2)! Sure you have to go at their pace and they are definitely going to pull something out that shouldn't or trample something else. But the overall joy you'll get is worth it! And it's amazing how much my 4 year has learned already.

I'm doing a lot of container gardening this year (unfortunately my neighbor often uses pesticides right next to the only spot I can garden in so I can't use the soil). So we built a container bean teepee! I have directions and photos at:

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 5:40PM
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