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Posts Tagged ‘gardening with toddlers’

Truck Farm is running a perfect contest for the outdoors toddler this month. The challenge is simply to plant a seed in the most creative place you can think of, watch it grow, take a photo of the baby plant, and send the picture to the contest website before June 10th.  I like this contest for two reasons. The first, most preschoolers will find it a lot of fun. The Monkey, my 3.5 year old, is really interested in the changes of spring this year and loves to be silly, so planting a seed somewhere odd is a perfect activity to engage his attention.  The second, it’s a great way to teach kids about science.  By planting a seed somewhere unusual (ie not in the ground) you can talk to your kids about what seeds actually need to germinate and grow.

Contest details can be found here.

The whole Truck Farm website is also worth a peek. Ian Cheney has created a small vegetable garden in the back of a flat-bed truck and is using it to educate inner-city children about farming and healthy eating: an educational, eye-catching, and low-cost idea.

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Although it seems early, this week we started thinking about our summer veggie garden. I’m told by my green-fingered neighbour that now is the time to plant seeds so that the baby plants will be ready to transplant in a month or two. Sowing seeds directly into the soil round here just doesn’t work–far too many slugs. You can wait a couple of months and plant shop-bought seedlings into your beds, but I thought it would be fun for the boys to grow our plants from seed this year.  Our winter veggie garden was only a moderate success.  We did get some broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage out of it, but the weather was just too warm and the frosts too few for these plants to flourish.  I have higher hopes for our summer garden.

worm stew

So this week I took the boys off to our favourite local nursery to get some seeds.  They then had heaps of fun planting the seeds in a mixture of potting soil and home-made compost.  The compost worms were a big hit with both kids, although extracting one from The Puppy Dog’s mouth was not my favourite mothering moment.  That child has a deep attraction to all things slimy and gross.  The Monkey seemed to get the idea of what we were doing and enjoyed it, even if The Puppy Dog kept wondering round the garden planting seeds everywhere.  Who knows what we will find growing where.

In the end we planted sunflower, snap pea, snow pea and cherry tomato seeds and are watching for them to germinate. We also bought some pumpkin seeds as I want to grow our Hallowe’en pumpkins this year, but they can wait a month or two for planting.  A certain element of surprise has been added to the process by The Monkey who, when my back was turned, pulled all the labels out of the planters declaring “we know what we planted Mommy! We don’t need them!”   So we’ll have to try to identify the plants as they grow.  We may yet end up with a Mammoth Russian Sunflower teepee rather than a snow pea one. We’ll see.

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We’ve been marvelling for a few days now that the daffodils in the front garden are already in bloom, and that buds are appearing on all the fruit trees. I’ve grown accustomed to the idea that we’re not going to get a proper winter this year and am trying to embrace the first signs of spring.  So this week we put the new annuals in the ground: some beautiful pansies that should bloom right through till summer.  Last year they actually kept going through October.  I do love this spot of early colour in the garden.  It also felt fitting to do this on Valentine’s Day: planting new life and tending the garden the whole family enjoys are surely acts of love.

Popping the pansies in

Watering the garden

This is the second year that The Monkey has been involved in planting the spring flowers and he knew exactly what to do, fetching his trowel and confidently making holes and lowering in the baby flowers.  I love that he’s already getting a sense of how the seasons change and how patterns repeat. It’s steadying for him to know that spring always comes and we always plant the flowers in the same spot, and affirming for me to notice the confidence this experience gives him.  It’s something we all need.  And it seems another defence against the unpredictable, novelty-worshipping culture outside the garden that I find so unhealthy.

Watering baby feet

What are you planting this spring?

 

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