The Truth About Gardening with Kids

Gardening with Kids

Gardening with Kids

This is my first summer at home full time with the kids. I stopped working outside the home at the end of last summer after the garden was established and in full swing. Then, our youngest child was not yet walking, and our oldest was in summer camp.

As this summer approached and my oldest son graduated from kindergarten, I had visions of me and the boys spending joyous hours working side by side in the garden. They would be the most helpful kids; bringing me my tools, playing nicely together, and discovering the love of gardening. This was not the case.

To get a sense of what I  have to work with, let me introduce my boys:

Gardening with Kids


Age: 6

Likes: Legos, video games, drawing, and building things

Dislikes: Flying Bugs and being outside when it’s hot

Gardening with Kids


Age: 20 Months

Likes: Food, dirt, rocks, mud, grass, harassing the dog, harassing his brother, breaking things, jumping off of things, general destruction.

Dislikes: Being told no


 Our Gardening with Kids Story

When Jacob was younger, he did show some interest in the garden. He was our first child, so Mark and I  made sure he was exposed to as many fruits and vegetables early on and we brought him into the garden as soon as he could walk. Like most young children, he enjoyed playing and digging in the dirt and picking vegetables. As he grew older, his interest faded. Gradually he wanted to have less and less to do with helping us in the garden. We did not push it. We figured that eventually he would show interest again.

When Luke came along, Mark and I introduced him to a variety of fruits and vegetables and the garden as well. He loves it in the garden. This child can spend hours outside, rain or shine. He loves getting dirty and he entertains himself with a pile of rocks and sticks.  Luke’s extreme enthusiasm for the outdoors does have a downside: he’s a destroyer. We have nicknamed him Tornado Luke. He will create a random path of destruction where ever he goes.

My boys are  a study of opposites. So, how do I get any work done? It’s not easy. I have to do everything in small increments. The boys are too young to leave unsupervised in the house, so I do have to bring them with me. With them being 5 years apart, I thought Jacob could minimally supervise Luke as I worked on watering or weeding. It works about 50 percent of the time. Usually about 30 minutes in, they start fighting, Luke has gotten himself into something he shouldn’t and Jacob wants to go inside. Sigh.

I realized that I was taking the wrong approach. I decided to try giving them “jobs”. We go out in the morning before it gets too hot. Jacob doesn’t like the heat, which is unfortunate because we live in the deep south. I let him do some watering. That usually lasts about 15 minutes or so. At that point he has turned the hose on his little brother. Now I have a wet toddler.

Luke ‘s job is to help me weed.  He likes to imitate, so I  show him what to pull. He generally gets it, but he is a toddler, After a while, he rather wander off  and get into trouble else where. Giving them “jobs” have worked out well. But again, only in small increments. Mostly, I let them play and I get to the garden maintenance stuff when I can.

My advice to parents

Be patient. I know, I know. It’s easier said than done. Trust me, I am glad I have tolerant neighbors. They have heard me  yelling at the kids: “Jacob, don’t spray your brother!” “Put down the dog poop Luke!” or “Luke, spit it out”( not poop, usually dirt!)

Don’t set your goals too high. I see all these wonderful projects on Pinterest that teach  you how to build a fairy garden  or making sun catchers with your kids, etc. Yeah, no. That didn’t work for me. My boys will start on a craft and it lasts about 10 minutes and they are ready to move on. I could spend hours on a craft only to have them destroy it the next day.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. They are kids. They have the attention span of gnats. In the end it’s about having fun. They will let you  know what works.  I have no set agenda when I go out in the garden with the kids.

My Goal

In the end all I want is for my boys to look back on their childhood and remember the fun days with their family. That is my true goal. If they do not have a garden when they are adults, oh well. It’s the memory that counts. Don’t sweat it moms and dads, have fun.

garden with kids



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3 thoughts on “The Truth About Gardening with Kids

  1. Your boys are so adorable. I love that you are taking the time to teach them to garden. My love of gardening started in the same way, it is a wonderful skill to have. Love the idea! Thanks for linking up with Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop! We are so glad you came!

  2. Hi, saw your link @ Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop…we just started a garden and I’d love for my kids to help out, too. I don’t want to have high expectations either but more to have fun and learn about gardening. I like the idea of giving them jobs to do, that sounds like it would really help, thanks for sharing!

  3. I can identify! I don’t have tornadoes (any more), but I can remember when it was a struggle to keep anything in the ground long enough to produce food. They loved harvesting stuff, but inevitably, the entire plant would find it’s way out of the ground. Now my kids (9 and 12) are experts in the garden. Their interest comes and goes, but they have heir own plots where they are growing flowers, herbs and tomatoes. I can send them out to harvest basil, green beans or tomatoes for dinner and can have them pull weeds without supervision. The struggles and annoyances have been worth it.

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