Gardening With Children is Messy; Do it Anyway.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

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I have long been on a quest to find poise in the ways I choose to spend my time (still working on it). Now that I have a small child depending on me, I can’t do everything every day. That’s life and it’s more than okay. It just brings me to the topic of how and when to work in the garden.

When she sleeps or becomes immersed in play or a Disney Movie, that may be my moment to get something done with little interruption. When you keep up with the house, garden, have a passion for writing, maintain a couple of small businesses, need exercise, and have to feed everyone at some point…it’s not all going to get done in 1 1/2 nap right? I have to choose or circumstance will choose for me. Anyway, I choose to include my toddler in most of my garden tasks.

It’s very messy.

My daughter has been “helping” me in the garden since she was one year old. I may have learned a little bit about plant spacing, pruning, covering exposed soil with mulch to prevent weeds, weeding, etc; but gardening with a toddler is kind of like gardening with Curious George.

So this day we planted some new annuals under our tree and sprinkled (scattered, threw, missed…) slow release fertilizer around the plants. We also planted some Blue Bonnet seeds as I am aching to put a touch of Texas in my Southern garden. There were cute helping moments, tantrums, mulch and leaves scattered in the yard, rounding her back up when she’d get bored and try to veer off, tons of fertilizer being dumped in one spot, fertilizer being sprinkled in the grass instead of around the flowers, leaves and dirt in her hair, plants stepped on, flowers defoliated before they got planted… I think you get the picture. BUT, we did plant our flowers and some seeds eventually.

It may be messy and imperfect but my 3 year old understands that seeds feed birds and when they go into the soil plants spring up. She recognizes worms, caterpillars, butterflies, and the colors of all the flowers. She even correctly identifies some bird species from hearing and seeing them in our yard all the time. She likes simple things like plants and dirt. I like to think that because we do this together, she’s going to grow up to be the kind of woman who is not afraid to get dirty and can eradicate spiders without fear. I believe she won’t be afraid of hard work, she’ll learn to be humble and kind to other working people, and she will appreciate the things she earns with the work of her hands.

So rather than be preoccupied with how the job comes out, I’ll be grateful that she’s learning something from a young age that will be meaningful for a long time. So often in the Bible there are analogies that involve the garden. Take for example John 15 in which it talks about how God prunes the branches in our lives that are not fruitful so that the ones that are can bear much better fruit. It’s not as abstract of a concept when you actually learn how to carefully prune your own plans for the best results (or you see how pitiful they get when pruning is neglected). This makes me consider the areas of my life that need pruning, and it inspires me to think about how my daughter will be able to understand these metaphors when she is older.

I promise if you try a little gardening with your children, even if it’s just one container you replant each season, you’ll be amazed at how much Science they learn. I’m amazed at what she knows even before she’s out of diapers. I’m also blessed by the promise that the seeds planted in her heart now will reap a big harvest one day.


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