Posts Tagged ‘gardening with a toddler’

Starting the Herb Garden

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Do you remember that post from months ago when I talked about gardening with a toddler? Well, I wrote it, made big plans in my head and in my usual Amy style, did nothing about them. Until now.

We stopped at the garden center the other day and Spencer liked it a lot less than I anticipated. I thought he’d love looking at all the plants and smelling the flowers and I think he might have had I let him run free, but I was alone and it was crowded and trapped in the cart he was. We made it out of there with a dahlia, cilantro and parsley with minimal cart rebellion.


Spencer ended up having a super late nap on Sunday, then went to the park so we didn’t end up planting anything until Monday afternoon. And I may or may not have forgotten about leaving them in full sun on a warm day until 5 pm. Needless to say, the cilantro seemed a little traumatized.

We dug holes and put the cilantro, parsley and basil in the ground. The cilantro and parsley came in those plant in the ground composting pots, never used those before. We’ll see how that goes. Next up, I put Spencer to work filling a pot we already had for the dahlia. It’s a little big, but I think this is one of those bushier dahlias and it should fill out a little wider. If not, well it will just look stupid.

Child in the garden with a trowel

And filling the pot? I made both of my critical errors of this gardening adventure. First, I only brought out one trowel. Once Spencer got a hold of it, there was no getting it back and I didn’t want to track dirt through the house to go get another one. The fact that I could just go through the side gate escaped me. I ended up using the now empty basil pot to scoop dirt.

planting an herb gardenSecond, I forgot about the single minded toddler brain and started him digging for dirt way too close to the cilantro plant. My intention was to scoop up the dirt from the holes we dug for the herbs and then scavenge dirt from different areas of the garden. (Again – too lazy to go to the garage for the bag of potting soil I am pretty sure is in there.) Spencer thought differently and would only dig next to the already damaged cilantro. I went back and back filled most of the holes and I am hoping that with a new cover of mulch (I could write and entire post about my mulch love) I hope it looks fab ad not attacked by prairie dogs.

Next up? Better planning and starting the vegetable garden.

If you are wondering about the mismatched photos in the post, the pictures themselves are not the greatest (hard to snap photos with dirty fingers and a trowel wielding toddler), but the assignment today is about html editing and images for blogging tips. Go read, it is awesome. Or, maybe you knew all this already. Whatever.)

Gardening with a Toddler

Monday, February 21st, 2011

This is the first spring/summer that I will be attempting to garden with a kid out in the yard with me. Last year, we shut the yard down to survival mode, growing only a massive zucchini plant and doing only the smallest amount of maintenance for the ornamental plants and fruit trees. I didn’t even manage to keep up with the herb garden. Compared to the year before when we had giant sunflowers in the front yard and grew peppers, beans, tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, carrots and radishes in the back, last year was barren. I love the idea of growing food and eating seasonally beyond what is available at farmer’s markets. And let’s face it, more and more farmer’s market crops are trucked a considerable distance to get to the “local” market. Yes, I get that apples from 200 miles away are more local than Chilean grapes, but it still isn’t that local. Ahem.

Saturday morning was perfect for a little gardening. The ground was damp from the rainstorms so weeds pulled out easily. It was cloudy, no wind. Just perfect. Spencer and I were out back playing with bubbles and the soccer ball and he was busy by himself, so I thought it would be a good time to grab a bucket and pull some weeds here and there. He didn’t pay much attention at first, but then became intrigued by what I was doing. Came over by my side and immediately tried to yank a daffodil out of the ground. And it struck me.

I have no idea how to garden with a toddler.

See my foot? It is on a dead bee I noticed as he was rolling around.

Of course it will be an adventure, but how can I be productive and keep him entertained AND not destroy the garden in the process? How do I teach him that roses have thorns? That bees sting? Which plants stay in the ground and which get removed? It must all seem so arbitrary to a toddler.

Danger! Danger!

I need to remember that he is always paring attention. Once. Once! I threw a rotten orange behind that plant pictured above to keep Spencer from playing with it and get it off the grass. This was maybe 2 months ago and Spencer still throws perfectly good fruit back there and I have to go get it. Worst of all is when he wants to go back there and get it and comes close to getting rose to the face. These roses are at least 15 years old, some of the thorns are huge.

So. Safety of the toddler first, sanctity of the plants second. I get that. Spencer pulling out fledgling vegetables will be a tremendous test of my parenting patience. I get that. I did at least have a flash of brilliance that he could “help” by picking up leaves from the grass and putting them in the bucket. It kept him busy and I only had to fight off his urge to dump the bucket every 5 minutes.


I’m sure anyone who is a kid person or babysat a lot or had significantly younger siblings is laughing at me. But I spent most of my adult life actively avoiding the diapered ones. I have no clue how to do any of this or what toddlers are like. At all. This is one huge crazy adventure and learning experience. For both of us.

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