A Child's Garden / by J White

In 2005, we gave Trent his own garden. He was two-and-a-half. He was so excited. He helped put the pieces together and fill it up with Sonoma compost. Then he helped plant seeds and chose a few plants at the nursery. He watered them (though Mom helped) and pulled weeds as they grew. Now he is harvesting the fruits of his labor and loving it.

Trent's Garden March, 2007

This year Trent's garden has asparagus coming up, fava beans growing strong, strawberries flowering and nice looking chard. This year he wants to grow tomatoes, sunflowers and pansies.

Trent's Garden March 2006

Trent's Winter Garden for 2006

Trent is growing the following of his own choice, in his garden: Radish, Carrots, Peas, Fava Beans, Swiss Chard (mom added for fun), Broccoli and Calendula. Plus, Strawberries (existing), Catnip (existing), Chrysanthemum – Russet, and Viola.

We moved the pineapple sage and the mint out of his bed as they were taking too much space up – plus we moved the sedums that he planted last year to the flower garden.

He’s not that interested in planting more than 1 or 2 plants but he loves to plant seeds.

Trent's Pumpkin #1 from our Boulder Garden

(He had 8 this year!) October, 2005

Trent's Garden June, 2005

Trent's Garden - May/June, 2005

Planted with Organic Compost mixed with Spiral Stonemeal: Strawberries, German Butterball Potato, Pepper, Onions, Catnip, Pineapple Sage, Carrots, Sunflowers, Tomatoes, Zucchini and Peas.

Two Excellent Links

Lighter Footsteps - 10 Tips for Organic Gardening with Children by Jennifer Lance

Gardening with Toddlers - Peat Pellets, Play Houses and Imperfectionism by Jeremiah McNichols

Trent's Sunflower (one of them!) July 2005

Trent's Garden

Before Trent had his own garden we gave him a spot in one of our larger beds. The inspiration behind giving him his own garden was to give him the responsibility to tend it and the fun of choosing what to grow in it. (It's about 4 feet in diameter). He, of course, shares in the bounty of the rest of the garden as well as shares his bounty with us (well, most of the time).

We needed a shaped bed to fit in the space so we opted to purchase a kit rather than make it ourselves (as we had the other raised beds). We ordered it from Raised Garden Beds.

A child’s garden could easily be a just a large pot on a patio, deck or porch, a windowbox or a half barrel if you have room. Choose the sunniest spot you can find. Fill it with 100% organic compost and choose organic seeds and organic starts. Even a couple of plants will be enough - it doesn't have to be a big garden.

The First Year of the Garden: Trent & Mom planted seeds and a few plants he selected himself at the nursery (Catnip and Pineapple Sage) and farmer’s market (strawberries). In June (2005) he'd been eating his peas for almost a month. The strawberries were fantastic! Peas, carrots and tomatoes are wonderful for children to grow as the edible results are the goal – and they grow most places really well. Sunflowers seem to be the flower of choice for little guys – Trent also loves marigolds and calendulas - both great choices for a little garden. His sunflowers turned out to be the biggest ones we've ever grown.

Weeding: Trent loves to weed (sometimes he even pulls real weeds – actually he’s getting much better at choosing the weeds) and loves to prune – even if mom does the actually cutting part. He loves his garden. At about 3 yrs old, he goes outside with safety scissors and "prunes" the weeds and deadheads and he's doing really well at it.

Pruning with Safety Scissors: Trent has been using safety scissors to prune outside under adult supervision since he was about 2.5. He’s learned to walk with them point down and to have some respect for them. He’s graduated from pulling weeds to “pruning them” and he will find dead flowers and “deadhead” them. It’s been a fairly successful experiment. He had always loved the idea of mom & dad’s pruners and by having his own set he feels like he’s been invited to join in the process. You want to start with the safety scissors that have plastic all around. The higher grade safety scissors (which have all metal blades) cut things more easily outside but should be the stage 2 of this experience – we’ve had some “clothes snipping accidents” with them.

Trent Pruning

Watering: The other garden task that Trent has improved with is watering. From the days when the ground received more water than the plants to the present where every watering can is emptied on a different plant. Progress has been made – and he loves to help. Every child should have a small but not tiny real watering can of some sort which is not too heavy when it’s full.

Foraging: Trent loves to forage for Alpine strawberries - we have White Alpine strawberries in the rose garden and a huge strawberry pot full of Red ones on the deck - this was a recent haul from the deck pot.