Although we had snow and horizontal rain just last week, spring is beginning to ‘pop’ up around our yard. Which means it’s time to start thinking about planting a garden.
We started planting just a few flowers last weekend — and the Bug was in dirt-covered heaven. She loved helping to dig and plant the seeds. And then of course there has been the watering ritual that’s become part of our daily routine.
Better Homes and Garden Magazine has a fantastic article about gardening with kids this month, including a ‘kid friendly’ vegetable gardening plan from the Food Revolution guru himself: Chef Jamie Oliver.
The garden is designed around color – – so maybe, just maybe, our toddlers WILL eat a rainbow of veggies! At the very least, the experience of growing the plants and walking through the garden will stimulate the senses. Providing a sensory experience is crucial for toddler development. According to scholastic.com, toddlers are the best ‘natural’ explorers! They are discovering their world through touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste. A garden is a perfect environment for exploration.
What types of plants are in this ideal garden plan? Sunflowers, several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, ‘pacman’ broccoli, green onions, carrots, cucumbers, lettuce and more. You can download the full garden plan directly from BHG.com.
Don’t have space for a full 8 ft by 12 ft garden? Consider growing a Pizza Garden. Designed to be grown in small spaces or containers, this garden has all of the fresh items you need to create homemade pizza. Definitely toddler approved.
Planting the garden is half the battle. Here are a few other tips for growing a garden with toddler in tow:
- Check out picture books about gardens and gardening from your local library or bookstore to help your child understand what happens when seeds are planted. One of my favorites? Up, Down, and Around by author Katherine Ayres and illustrator Nadine Bernard Westcott.
- Create plant labels. Have your child help you create picture plant labels to attach to garden stakes. This will help your child remember what you planted and where those plants are located in the garden. There are some GREAT homemade garden stake ideas over on Parenthack.com.
- Get in the kitchen. Have your child help in the kitchen by washing the tomatoes before you cook or sprinkling basil or other herbs into your pasta sauce. You can start this now before your plants even grow with store-bought produce. Cultivate their anticipation with comments like “Oh! See this bright red tomato. We are growing these right in our back yard and will be able to pick our own later this summer.”
For more tips and tricks for gardening with tots, check out National Garden Month.com.
What are you planting in your garden?