If you asked me last week what I thought about this upcoming florida summer. I would have said it was going to be breezy--- but this week? Oooof, it's hot. Which is to be expected--- but one can wishfully hope for a cooler year. So even though our garden/outdoor season is coming to an end (hello melting plants!), I know most of the rest of you guys are slowly entering the perfect summer weather--- so here we are--- a garden post in late may rather than mid january when we're thriving :)
Gardening with toddler? It's messy, dirty, and ridiculous, but can totally be done. Lucky for us, Marlowe is at the stage where things don't feel like chores or work--- and little tasks seem like "big kid responsibilities" and "fun" --- I still haven't personally decided if I think weeding is soothing, fun, or a pain in the butt, but Marlowe seems to think it's fun--- for a few minutes at a time anyway, so it works.
As you guys know, we're not pro gardening--- we're doing a pretty good job transforming the yard, making our beds, and planting mostly from seed, but we're still learning everything too. I feel like some of the best advice I have is always the most basic, but if you have a little one and are thinking about gardening, here are some of the best things I can try to offer to make your kid a happy and healthy outdoor gardener. And I know by the photo above it looks like I'm telling you to hand your child a pair or scissors and run a muck, hear me out haha :)
Protection! Especially here in south florida, but everywhere for sure.
The sun is blazing 24/7 here--- even when it's raining, the sun is likely to be out. We all wear ridiculous hats in this family--- the adults like the straw variety, for Marlowe, a bonnet. THESE hats are reversible (two hats in one!), adorable, and light weight--- so they're great for summer. Also, you can find them in organic cotton--- and don't worry boy moms, there's boy versions too. Nobody wants to think about sun damage to a kiddos face--- start your kid wearing a hat young so they don't protest it later. A safe face is a happy face.
While Marlowe's preferred choice of gardening attire is a princess dress or tutu and her bare feet--- this became a quick no no. Unless she's just running out to grab some herbs or fruit for me, she's gotta be properly dressed. We learned very quickly that while some caterpillars might look soft and fuzzy, they actually sting and burn your skin like crazy. So we've learned to always be prepared. Pink overalls and pink boots help replace the pink tutu. And toddler (butterfly) gloves for some projects are a must.
So now that we've been able to convince Marlowe that she'll be wearing pants and not a dress outside, there's that whole---- needing to keep her busy while we work thing. Inside the house, she's pretty covered--- outside, we're kind of lacking in the outdoor kid entertainment so when she doesn't feel like torturing the tennis ball crazed dog, we have a few other "tasks" to keep her busy.
A hole in the dirt. I wanted to start this paragraph with "what kid doesn't like dirt?" but you know what, M hated dirt for the longest time and has only started to enjoy it in the past year or so. So now, we have two dirt tricks. One, her own trowel to dig out rows for seeds. And more enjoyed: her own shovel. She's learned how to use a shovel like a pro. This doesn't actually help us, but marking off a space, and letting the kid go to town with a shovel is great.
Makin' paths. It's like an obstacle course! Make your sow path and let the kid's trail on them. I mean, sure you'll probably have to spruce them up later, but as long as your kid doesn't act like godzilla, it should be pretty fun for them and not incredibly destructive for you.
Pinching flowers. Not ready to have your plant flowering yet? Kids love "collecting flowers for mama." Give them a yes list and a no list of what they can pinch and let them go to town.
Cutting herbs and other plants. Here's where those scissors come in. Marlowe has been OBSESSED with using her own scissors and is happy to help any way she can when it involves scissors. We admittedly have been letting the basil flowers get out of hand, luckily, the stems are thin enough for a pair of toddler scissors to cut them right off. Now when we're out there for hours, or just to grab some herbs for lunch, she can grab her own scissors that we leave by the back door and clip one herbs.
Pulling weeds. Really. I mean, make a game out of it--- your kid will probably win. They're low to the ground, easy to do, and something that needs to be done. Try it out, your kid might actually enjoy it.
Watering plants. This one is reserved for bigger kids or well watched little ones. But what would yard work be without getting wet and muddy? Let them water. (THIS can is adorable, and you can't over water with it)
Give them something else to plant. You know whats cheap and easy for them to plant? (Besides dead flowers). Chia seeds. And they grow! Quickly! Let them be a chia fairy around the garden--- then watch your chia garden grow.
Let them harvest. You obviously need to help out with this one--- maybe not with all plants, but with a lot of them. She picks tomatoes and tangerines on her own, things in the dirt, we offer assistance. But she loves it.
Painting pots, bricks, sticks & other things. When all else fails, give them an easy art activity. This is one of the easiest things that a kid can do---- and even if it's messy, you're out doors. Best of all, it brings a touch of color to your garden :)
Obviously this is an old photo, but as you know, we've been working on this space for a while. Boots, hats, and easy activities save the day! Check out urban baby bonnets for a ton more adorable hats--- boys hats too--- I'm partial to the organic ones :) (Marlowe's favorite dress--- HERE)
Have other kid gardening recommendations? I would love to hear them--- and I bet Marlowe would love them too--- and probably poor tennis ball tortured Jerry too ;)