Let Them Grow: Garden Chores Galore
Garden Chores Galore
At three, rounding four years old, my daughter is still a menace in the garden. With her little friends, they terrorize the green tomatoes, eat green blue berries and rip up entire strawberry plants with ease. They trample over the kale and the hearty cabbage is still no match for the preschoolers size tens. In response, I have come up with the Four W’s for our visit to the farm, picking, and home gardening. They are watering, washing, weeding, and wondering.
Watering: Giving a toddler or a preschooler a hose means we are all getting wet. I have found that setting and locking the hose on mist lets kids spray with full control. It gives a cool spritz without getting soaked. It gives a little drink to the garden, without flooding the plants. If you are out, think about bringing a few water filled misters and handing them out as a chore for the garden.
Washing: All fresh picked foods should be washed before eaten; this is hard when, you are out picking at a farm share or working in the garden. It’s tempting, but I try to be diligent. Having a bucket of water and a clean sponge ready to go keeps little hands busy. Adding a scrubber, a toothbrush and a drying rag can help this washing station stay fun. All kids love washing- the industrious toddler can wash beans, berries, cucumbers – and eat away!
Weeding: Weeding can be tricky with littles. It’s very difficult to decipher growing plants that will soon bloom to plentiful foods from invasive garden weeds. I have set areas far from the delicate plants for the kids to weed. Weeding grasses from blueberry or fruit tress is a lot simpler and less frustrating then finding a plantain in a strawberry patch. Weeding can also become part of wondering!
Wondering: Let them wonder. Why do dandelions bleed white, what happens if I cut this? Rip that? Are there seeds inside a calendula flower? Why is lemon grass lemony? These are all great questions – the wonders of a childlike imagination on stage. So why not create this wonder while we, as adults, work in the garden? Next to the washing station offer scissors, a net, a jar with a lid, a magnifying glass, a plastic knife, a cutting area, cups or other gadgets to explore with. Help your child split a green tomato and explore it. Allow them to have a few weeds or veggies to examine. Let them prod, poke, and pinch the tomato only in the wonder area… not in the garden, save some to see in full bloom.
You can add to the wonder and love of garden by keeping them busy and letting them play. A little preparation can go a long way!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Candice Chouinard has worked with youth of all ages and backgrounds, creating and implementing programming for children. She revels in hands-on, long-term, messy projects that are both fun and educational. Candice comes from a background in creative writing, as well as, child development and psychology. She owns and operates a daycare in Northampton, MA.