Gardening with little ones…

Many have asked me how in the world do you garden with babies?  I hadn’t thought about it much and like many things I do, I often don’t consider the fact that maybe what I want to do isn’t possible because of having so many little ones.  Many times it does get me in way over my head.  When I find myself carrying a baby on the hip and a shovel and rake in the other hand while trying to pull a wagon load of rocks with a bucket of seeds and a two year old sitting atop and yell across the yard at the 4 year old to stop throwing the kittens– I sometimes get a clue that maybe I am trying to multi-task just a little to many things at once and need to utilize my helpers and implement some tools to help me. 
However, just because something is a bit complicated, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done.  Gardening is very important to me and our family, so we garden with little ones and use a variety of tricks to make that possible. 
1.)  Garden during nap time.  I can get lots of gardening work done when the little ones are napping.  My baby girls are very dependable nappers and when they nap–lots of work can be accomplished. 
2.)  During other times, I use a large yard gate outside near the area I am working in.  The babies play near me, yet can’t run off or get into things they are not supposed to.  I put interesting toys into the yard gate that they don’t other wise play with normally.  A shallow tub of water with cups and containers keeps them busy too.  Yes the protest the monkey gate, but it’s part of their training and keeps them safe. 
3.) The young boys work near me with their dump trucks.  I often hire them to remove large rocks from the garden spot we are working to move piles of rocks to spread out in the bottom of a dry creek bed.  They earn .10 cents a dump truck load. 
4.)  Involve the children in your work.  Yes, it takes more effort and more time, but it leaves lasting memories and invests in something more important than speed and efficiency.  We planted several rows of corn, beans, squash and okra several weeks ago.  My 18 month old was very interested in watching us put the seed into the ground.  I handed her a seed and made an impression where she could plant the bean seed.  She very thoughtfully placed her seed in the ground and watched me pat the dirt around it.  We took another step and I made another impression for another seed.  She held out her tiny hand for the bean, took the bean from me and placed it in the ground, patting the dirt.  Again and again she repeatedly took beans and placed them in the ground.  Yes, it was a slower process, but gardening isn’t all about speed and mass production.  The fact that my 18 month old was planting seeds was pretty exciting to me. 
Older children can be more involved.  The 8, 9 and 11 year old can pretty well garden by themselves, knowing how to prepare soil and plant seeds.  They produce a lot of good hard work, making gardening a lot easier for me with the little ones. 
Now that the larger garden is plowed, planted and now growing, we are not working in it as much as we did the previous weeks.  The main work now is routing spring water gravity fed lines and setting up rain barrels (which do not have rain water in them yet) to supply our garden with much needed water. 

2 Comments

  • Sally says:

    Great tips! I have only a little flower bed in front of my house, but it still needs weeding and such and these little tid-bits will come in handy 😉
    Right now, Ethan loves to help me pick off the dead buds on the flowers…only he hasn’t quite yet grasped which ones are dead and which ones aren’t! lol

  • Bethany says:

    My 2 year old picks lots of things she shouldn’t too…. Do you have petunias??…
    My little boys pick wild flowers all the time with the roots…Today I had a trail of dirt to the kitchen counter with a pile of “weeds” with big roots and dirt everywhere. My 6 year old came in and said, “I thought you might like these, so I picked a whole bunch for you!” AHHHH, Sooo sweet —they don’t even see the mess (I didn’t care about it either after that—he made my day bringing his momma flowers)…just the thought and pretty wild flowers.

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