I love getting my hands into the dirt, watching things grow and feeling the satisfaction of enjoying something I had a hand in raising. In trying to expose the children here to some of that I encourage them to help me as I garden. Maybe it’s the perennials, but more likely the herbs and vegetables. Every time we’re checking the herb garden we have to touch and smell.
The vegetable garden is a totally different experience.
Our backyard garden is not about teaching children about plants. It’s about us having fresh vegetables for eating. The learning comes naturally through the growing season for children who are interested. To involve the children we explore the seeds, discussing differences in size and shape, explaining how it helps us know how deep to plant them. There are some seeds that are really easy for small hands to seed (spinach, beets, kale, lettuce, carrots) as it’s about just spread them on top of the soil, then sprinkling a little soil over them, patting down and watering. I also always let them help with peas and onion sets. I try to get them to place and then poke into the ground the depth of their finger. What I find is the onions can be hard to poke in, so I follow behind to finish off. The peas go in easy, but often only about half germinate, so I reseed. I purchase many of the plants as seedlings from local farmers and plant them myself. Once done it’s time to tour, begin checking on growth progress, discussing varieties planted, how, why and what we can expect. The weeding I’ll do, but we’ll soon thin with the purpose of eating. (We’re already harvesting the rhubarb and asparagus.)
One of those discussions is around why there are sticks and paper tubes. Simple answer – cut worms. A garden pest that likes new seedlings. They circle the stem cutting through it. The stick stops them from getting around the stem. The paper tube works the same. I use paper tubes around seedlings can slide over. Sticks on all others.