Gardening with my toddler

Plants are fascinating. Everything about them is totally exciting. I didn’t realize that I had a thing for gardening until after I got married. So many years wasted. There is a certain sense of accomplishment that comes from watching your plants thrive. And if you started from seeds…oh that joy is simply indescribable.
Now getting into your garden with your little one, teaching him/her how to sow a seed, ask them to care for it and watch them learn and enjoy themselves all at the same time makes the entire experience so much better.
Here in Michigan, we get about 6-7 months of gardening, the rest of the year is too cold for anything other than evergreens to survive. Back when I was in India, I never really gave much thought to the fact that container gardening and rooftop gardening was a possibility. Now that I know well its too late to do anything about not having done anything productive when in India.

So last year, when my son was a year old, I planted a few tomatoes, peas, okra, beetroot and pumpkin. So due to the short gardening window where I live, I started the seeds indoors and then when spring arrived, I planted them outdoors. Sadly enough, a few days after spring arrived we got a few days of frost. baring the peas, everything else died. I did sow some tomatoes in again and got enough tomatoes towards the end of summer that I didn’t need to buy tomatoes for about 2 months. I got a decent amount of peas too. This was my first attempt at gardening and I was pretty happy with the results. My son was too young then to help with the gardening, but almost daily I would take him out to the tomato plants and talk to him about it. To date, he calls most plants tomato plants haha!!!

This year, I had more room for gardening. But I decided to not have any vegetable garden this year, simply because the new yard needed a lot of work. But over time I got some roses, canna lilies, peonies, lavender, daylilies, Dahlia’s, geraniums, marigolds and some others that I forget the names of going in my garden. My son was an active partner in my gardening attempts this year. And now I find him going into the garden, caressing plants (sometimes he will tear the leaves, which annoys me but it’s okay). He can name a few of the plants too. Makes me so proud.

I believe it is good to teach your child gardening. Let them play with mud, get dirty. I even caught my son putting some mud in his mouth and guess what nothing happened. Caring for a plant will automatically teach your child to be a caring person as they grow. It’s the same logic that applies with having pets around little children. It takes some patience and a lot of understanding but they get there. Show them how to sow a seed or transplant a seedling. Teach them how to water and care for their little plants. Teach your child about natural, organic fertilizers that can be made from kitchen wastes.

For those of you living in apartments that don’t really have too much room for gardening, you could have a few pots placed outside of your window on a ledge. You may need to buy some quality soil from the nursery. As for seeds, you can actually get them out of your kitchen itself (if you are planning on a vegetable garden).
A few easy to grow items would be coriander, mint, tomatoes, green chilies, bell peppers.

A few easy fertilizing options are eggshells powdered, coffee grounds, tea leaves, banana peels. You can also make some compost teas which are pretty simple to prepare.

For a banana peels fertilizer, collect some banana peels throw away the stalk and cut the peel into tiny bits. Put all the peels into a container, pour water until all the peels are submerged and cover with a tight lid. Leave this in a warm place for 1 week. After a week, strain out the liquid infused with the goodness from the banana peels, dilute this mixture with regular water and give all your plants a thorough soaking with it.

You can make a similar liquid fertilizer with kitchen scraps (onion peels, vegetable peels, and wastes, etc). Just be sure as to not add any meat or bones to your fertilizer.

Happy Gardening!!!!

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