Gardening with young kids?

Gardening with young kids?

Over the last few years my wife and I have really loved having so much great local produce available to us from some wonderful farmer’s markets, roadside stands, CSAs and co-ops in the area.

It’s been particularly nice because, despite big dreams and great intentions, our ability to actually grow food ourselves has been . . . well, not without its highs, but mostly a bit of a gong show.

While I wouldn’t exactly say we have green thumbs, it’s not that we don’t know what we’re doing. What it really comes down to are the twin problems of a lack of space (we live in a small apartment, with only a small patio available for us to use) and that what space we have is not very conducive even to container gardening, as it gets very little direct sunlight (maybe 5 hours on a clear, sunny day). Herbs do okay, and we’ve been told we could grow lettuce (OH BOY! LETTUCE!). But anything more than that has just not really done very well. . .

So instead, this spring I jumped at the opportunity to sign up for a family plot at the wonderful community garden in a nearby town. We’ll have lots of space, and lots of sun, not to mention lots of access to much more experienced gardeners, to lend advice.

We’re really, really looking forward to this as something to do as a family. It will be fun, and provide delicious food, and probably be a big boon to getting all of us interested in eating more healthy fruits and vegetables.

That said . . . I am also sort of terrified at the idea of trying to tend to a vegetable garden for a couple of hours a week with two little boys in tow. Particularly on the days when I am taking them out there by myself. A garden in our own backyard I could theoretically go work in while one or both of the boys nap, but this one will require a short drive and bringing the boys along.

I actually expect that Tucker (3) will have a blast, and may even be able to offer some legitimate help planting seeds or pulling weeds or just by not destroying things. When supervised, at least.

But what do you do with a 1-year old who is most likely to take advantage of me not looking for a minute to trample other people’s gardens, pull down stakes, and eat dirt, worms, and anything else he can fit into his mouth? I’m afraid I’ll turn my back to pull a weed and discover that he has tangled himself in a blackberry bush or is trying to climb a trellis to steal grapes.

I’m thinking maybe stick him in our backpack carrier, but the thought of gardening with him in that thing sounds like some sort of bizarre 300 Spartan cast-member workout technique.

Anyone ever tried this? Any advice on how to involve my boys without it killing me or destroying the place?


  • My boy is only 6 months right now, and not as mobile as your kiddos, but I’ll be trying the same thing this summer. I have a big backyard garden, and I signed up to help with our church’s community plot. Maybe if you get the boys their own set of garden tools (bucket, hand spade, etc) and designate a plot for playing in the dirt, that would help. You would have to resign yourself to having very muddy boys for the drive home, but it might work. Otherwise there’s always the baby leash… 😉 Good luck. I hope you post about your progress with the garden!


  • […] year, our family got a large plot at a wonderful community garden on the campus of Kutztown University, and had a fantastic summer […]


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