The joys of gardening with a toddler

June 8 2011 | Guest post by Cat
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Photo by Abigail Batchelder, used with Creative Commons license.
Spending a couple of hours out in the garden on a sunny morning or afternoon is a fantastic way to spend some time with your children. They get to learn new things and have fun doing something productive. My toddler, Will, takes great pride in showing his Daddy all that he has achieved.

This morning we raked some leaves as the path had become cluttered. Funny how I manage to rake leaves without getting a spot of dirt on me but Will gets covered from head to toe in mud and dead leaves. He also enjoyed weeding, although I was sure he was going to get stung, so I kept trying to intervene.

The messiest part of the day was emptying the hanging baskets in preparation for getting new plants, which resulted in us both getting soggy old compost all over our clothes. Great fun for Will — I've never seen my toddler have so much fun doing something so ordinary.

A highlight of the day was discovering a frog. It was quite a big frog as well. Whilst clearing the leaves from under one of the bushes, I noticed something quickly moving amidst all the dead leaves. Will thought it was fantastic and got really excited. He was a little concerned when the frog disappeared into the bushes, and we had to hover around waiting to see whether the frog would make another appearance.

The frog wasn't interested in playing with a toddler — I don't blame him! — so instead we went back to clearing the leaves, and Will was in hysterics as we picked up all the leaves and threw them into our buckets to add to the recycling bin. We also found some snails in amongst the paving slabs and spent a good twenty minutes sitting watching one particular snail move along the path.

Thankfully my youngest slept through most of our outdoor antics, which gave me the chance to spend some time alone with Will. I think it's important to give each child their own special time, so having that time alone with Will was lovely.

Will had to make sure he made good use of all of his tools, so after a bit of digging we used the wheelbarrow to wheel some dead leaves up to the recycling bin, and watered the plants with his watering can. He's in an independent stage at the minute so has to do everything himself, and doesn't take kindly to being treated like a baby.

Our next gardening task is seeding the lawn and planting some tomatoes and potatoes, which I know he'll love as he takes any and every opportunity to get mucky — what kid doesn't?

  1. Sounds so nice! Gardening with my toddler has mostly been a tale of early deaths by stomping and pulling :/ But I am keeping at it, because it is good for all of us and one or two things usually live long enough to produce 🙂

    1 agrees
    • Yeah, Miles is more treacherous than helpful in the garden! I usually give him something to "work on" that is pretty destruction-proof, like playing with chive flowers or raking. Good times.

  2. My 2 year old LOVES gardening with me. His favorite job is to follow along behind me as I weed and collect all the "worms" (many are actually grubs or millipedes) that are turned up in his worm bucket. I left a bed in the garden unplanted, and that's his digging spot. There have been a few accidental diggings and stompings outside his bed, and I can't convince him to leave any of the row-marking stakes in the ground, but for the most part we have a lot of fun in the garden together, getting dirty and checking out all the bugs. 🙂

  3. My toddler loves to garden with me. Every morning on the weekends he accompanies me out to inspect the herbs and veggies. I got him his own watering can and tools, as he kept running off with mine. Now he follows me around "watering" plants, and has his own rock garden, complete with succulents, that he tends pretty regularly by moving the rocks around and planting and replanting the succulents. Having his own "garden" sort of helps keep him from pulling on the tomatoes and herbs (although we do sometimes have issues with stomping when he's chasing the cat around in the beds).

  4. Glad to hear how satisfying gardening with a toddler can be– it's inspiring me to keep trying. I have a toddler and a community garden plot– sometimes it all ends well, and sometimes it ends in frustration. We successfully planted a few seeds together the other day, which he really loved. However, none of the plots are fenced, so it's a challenge to keep my little guy within our own plot and away from trampling others' crops. Interestingly, this scenario has encouraged me to begin developing relationships with our fellow gardeners, who are delighted (for the most part) to help me engage/distract my son while I water our plants. It's really feeling like a community, more so than I ever thought, because I bring my son with me from time to time. I would love to hear others' experiences on this front.

  5. We have a 3×8 foot garden area outside of our apartment, and the previous tenants had broken a window, so we had to rake/pick out all the glass that they had ever so graciously left there. Now though, we have this little, tilled area, with a hydrangea in it, we have a couple of tomato plants that we are going to put in a small raised bed, and we have some zucchini seedlings coming our way that are going into another raised bed. The little ones love watering the plants and every time they find a worm they pick it up and transfer it into our little garden. Really one of the cutest things I have ever seen.

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