Gardening with Children

I generally enjoy (although I did consider putting enjoy in italics) gardening with the kids.  We happily sow seeds together, we dig holes, we plant out seedlings, we water and we harvest (very, very carefully) together.  There are some activities though that are less successful.  Take weeding; sometimes Mr 2 lets over exuberance get the better of him and suddenly the bed will be devoid of lettuces.  I say over exburance when actually I mean plain ordinary naughtiness.  Much to my shame I tend to have a slightly hysterical voice when he approaches the beds.  Highpitched shouts of NO,….. its a plant!…….You’ll kill it!……Oh NO you’ve pulled it out…….You’re going straight to timeout!…..  Must amuse the neighbours no end but they also make gardening with the kids a high stress activity at times.

Pruning is another activity I’m not entirely sure about.  Here we have Miss 5 about to do embark on some ‘pruning’.  What she was about to prune was, at the time, unclear…..cue Jaws music………

I held my breath, had visions of decimated dwarf citrus and another child in timeout, but fortunately this time it was of some parsley for her salad.  Next time the oranges may not be so lucky.

What parts of your garden do you allow small children to touch?  Is anything out of bounds?

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26 Responses to Gardening with Children

  1. There are times when I, too, have that “slightly hysterical voice” when my children come near the garden.

    I have things that I don’t allow them to do. I don’t allow them to weed, for instance. I don’t allow them to put their feet in the beds. (All my beds are clearly laid out and there is no reason for any of us to step in those beds.)

    • Liz says:

      Ah no reason, except: I had to get that ball, I saw a grub, I felt like it, I had to get that weed etc etc etc….or perhaps thats just my children……

  2. Having no small children our garden is safe. I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned it before but I have a website directed at gardening with children especially in a school environment. Many schools in England have got into gardening projects big time supported by many different organisations.

    • Liz says:

      My daughters primary school has a kitchen garden complete with chooks which is lovely. It is really common here too which is great – we certainly didn’t have them when I was a kid.

  3. Kate says:

    Giving them their own little spot to tend works well. It’s pretty cute to see the things they come up with when they’re in charge.

    • Liz says:

      Both have their own garden and I try really hard not to interfere….but the control freak in me does struggle especially when they try things I know wont work and then get demoralised when I am right.

  4. I had to laugh when I read your question and realised that I freak out when I see other adults heading toward my garden, let alone kids! But then I realised that often when people ask me how I got into gardening my response is: “I’m not sure, I’ve always done it. We had a big vegie garden when I was a kid…” so maybe when your kids are running toward your vegies with the secateurs it’s best to just think ahead about 30 years?!

    • Liz says:

      I have visions (OK dreams) of my children happily tending my garden whilst I sip champagne and offer the occasional bit of encouragement…may take a few more weeks of training though…..It is interesting how propriety we can become about our gardens though isn’t it?

  5. It’s funny how we protect our garden from little children, who are eagerly offer their help, and want grown kids to help us in the garden while they lost their interest in some videogames… :)

  6. Andrea says:

    I did have a chuckle reading this post Liz remembering what lengths I took to keep my precious garden beds safe while the children were growing up. I’m not surprised i wasn’t reported the day i stepped out the back door to find all the new fronds stripped from a tree fern and 2 children sitting in their “Nest”.
    They didn’t seem attracted to the veggie bed, they liked to plant seeds but then lost interest. I did have a large sand pit and swing and ropes swings for them to play on and also a cubby house on stilts with their rabbit hutch underneath as decoys !!

    • Liz says:

      Oh no the poor tree fern, a nest is nicely creative though….but still poor tree fern…..I reckon a rabbit is a fabulous decoy, I think I need more decoys….

  7. Nina says:

    I’m steeling myself for a visit in August from my niece and her two young children, who live in Canada. I love my niece dearly but gee, her kids are out of control.

    Their mum asks if they can pick things from the garden and I don’t want to be a total witch so I let them – all the time fretting internally about the damage they cause. They don’t pick. They rip!

    My heart sank when she told me how excited they are that I now have chooks. Poor girls, they’d better find some good hiding places and check over their shoulders a LOT!

    • Liz says:

      Fortunately chooks are remarkably resilient, I have two younger brothers and the 3 of us used to terrorise ours as kids – then we got a rooster that used to terrorise us – he was horrible but he did protect his girls I guess……

  8. kitsapFG says:

    My daughter is now 20 years old and has a garden of her own in Pennsylvania… but I do indeed remember the days of my little helper! She actually was very good in the garden and wanted to just dig in the dirt mostly or pick the snap peas and eat them (which I was happy to oblige the request). When she was little she always helped plant onion sets and the garlic patch – easy for little hands to do and I could “see” that they were all there and in the marked spot. Later she was my great help in picking the never ending bush bean harvests and canning. I miss her alot (can you tell?!).

    • Liz says:

      Lovely story – and yeah you can tell but not in a bad way. I’m sure she has great memories of planting, digging etc, I hope my kids do too one day.

  9. Sustainably Modern says:

    I completely understand and have had those moments too. My squeals are usually to tell my boys to get out of the garden bed and walk in the rows between the beds. I turned around once and my son (2) was dancing around with a carrot top. Its a process, but they are learning proper garden behaviour. Thus far they are pros at picking cherry tomatoes and purple hull peas.

    • Liz says:

      It is a process isn’t it…..a long one…..actually Miss 5 is really very good so hopefully in a couple more years Mr 2 will be reformed.

  10. Oh I constantly wonder what my non-gardening, non-hysterical-squealing neighbours must think of my time in the garden with Miss Three. She ‘s good at some things, picking the cherry toms, the parsley and silver beet growing wild along the paths and helping me plant seeds in the seed trays (though there is a reason I never know what seed is growing in what rows). But must of my garden is in one big bed which you have to walk through and around to plant and harvest and weed. My usual hysterical cry is ‘Watch where your walking! Stop! Don’t move! Oh damn that was the onion seedlings I JUST planted, there goes the lettuce” etc. She’s not interested in weeding yet, but no flower is safe from her clutches. And of course there was the incident of her picking all the coriander just as it was starting to look promising and feeding it to the dog. I now have it in a pot on the kitchen window sill and hoping it’s safe there.

  11. Katie says:

    Must admit that my rose pruning efforts were achieved the other day by sitting the restless Miss Two down on the garden path with my iPhone and her ”Nana Jammies’ videos (that’s ‘Bananas in pajamas,’ for the uninitiated!) She likes to sprinkle seeds (big ones), a bit too exhuberantly but I sneak in afterwards and even them out a bit. She’s also big on pulling out plants, that’s weeds and seedlings equally, and then following this up with a bit of light garlic and broccoli seedling trampling. She wants to help me ‘snip snip’ too, but the secateurs are forbidden implements for the time being because I’m too scared she’ll lop off a finger (hers, or mine!) I love having her out there with me, but I’m waiting for the day when I don’t have to hold my breath over the seedlings quite so much.

    • Liz says:

      Ah yes – your experience is much like mine. As much as I enjoy Mr 2 generally ( I like 2 – fun age) him getting older will definitely help our relationship in the garden.

  12. Barbie says:

    Pruners are an ‘out of bounds’ item for us. If the kiddy scissors from school can’t cut it – they don’t need it! LOL (herbs mainly or ripe things) Gernerally they take things with their hands not with pruners or scissors. I’ve shown them the right way to snap peas and beans, etc. without the use of sharp instruments.
    We’ve just embarked on letting them help cull items. This was a first for us until now I was too worried they’d take the wrong plant out, but they have to learn some day! There isn’t much they don’t do and sometimes that shows when there are carrots sown in with say cucumbers and it’s a tangled up mess. :-D But it’s great that they are right along with me and learning every step of the way.

    • Liz says:

      Ah I do like the if scissors can’t cut it rule. You are brave allowing them to cull – but I agree that its worth it to ensure they learn.

  13. Diana says:

    hahaha…I think I am in the same boat with you.
    My almost 3 years old have a very quick hand, he just pick immature fruits or young carrots out before I can stop him. So I make his hand full with holding the basket or trowel with pots something like that.

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