Veggie Tales: Adventures in Gardening with a Toddler

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As you may recall, one of my goals for 2015 was to start a vegetable garden with Peanut.  Knowing that her world was about to change in a big way when Nugget arrived and joined our family, I really wanted to come up with a special activity for us to do, just us two.  Of course, I read to Peanut all the time, and I play with her, but I wanted to do something bigger.  I wanted us to take on a project together that would provide opportunities for fun learning experiences and, I hoped, set a foundation for similar experiences throughout her childhood.  I hit upon gardening as an idea that I hoped would work.  It certainly would give me plenty of chances to teach Peanut about the natural world, which is something I’m passionate about, it could be tailored to her age and attention level and my experience level, and I loved the idea of her growing up with a trove of memories of gardening together with her mom.  The only possible hiccup I foresaw was that Peanut is a fairly fastidious child.  You’d never know it to look at the state of her playroom, but she generally doesn’t like to get dirty.  So I hoped that she’d find gardening fun, but I wasn’t sure how she’d feel about the dirt part.

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I needn’t have worried.  But anyway, backing up.  I decided that I wanted to start this year with just a very easy garden – a few pots with starter plants on my back patio.  I haven’t gardened in years – I tried a few times in Virginia, but always killed everything – so I knew that starting with four raised beds and thirty varieties of vegetables and herbs was a recipe for frustration and failure.  I also knew that Peanut’s attention span was going to be limited and there was only so much of her time I was going to get this year.  Anything advanced – like starting plants from seed or testing soil – was right out.

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My first stop was Lowe’s, where I picked up four bags of potting soil and this set of four gorgeous planters.  It actually took me awhile to find the planters.  Everything I liked was expensive (funny how that works!) and I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a garden that was by no means a sure success.  But the pots that I deemed inexpensive enough seemed dinky, or their looks didn’t appeal to me.  I bypassed the pots above at first because I balked at the $98 price tag – until I realized that $98 bought a set of four pots.  Now that I can stomach.  I loved the beautiful ombre, and the fact that they’re frost resistant (key when you live on the tundra).  Sold.

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Then it was off to the garden center.  Hubby and Peanut joined Nugget and me for this part of the adventure, and we all had fun exploring the different greenhouses while I decided what I wanted.

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(Sneak peek – Peanut was picking out flowers for a special garden project that we’re also doing together.  More on that next week.)

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I came home with sweet 100 tomatoes (a cherry varietal I’m really excited about); red leaf lettuce; mixed leaf lettuce; a strawberry plant; parsley; dill; rosemary; tie-dye basil; and mint (my favorite herb).  Hubby set up the plants on the back patio and we were ready to start playing in the dirt.

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We dressed Peanut like a farmer, in overalls and crocs, because obviously.

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Peanut received these Melissa and Doug garden tools from the Easter Bunny this year.  They’re excellent quality and she loves using them.  Well, she loves the rake.  She doesn’t care about the shovel or the spade.  We’ll get there.

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Peanut helped me prep the soil…

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And then I started potting.  And then came our first disagreement of the gardening experiment.

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I wanted to actually pot the plants.  Peanut wanted to fling fistfuls of dirt about.  I guess my fears about her not having fun because she doesn’t like to get dirty were misplaced.  Seems she’s outgrown that particular preference, heh.  Anyway, I’m bigger so I eventually got my way and everything was potted.  Now Peanut and I water the plants together most days (they get watered every day, but I sometimes do the job myself, because I don’t want her to burn out on the project).  So far, nothing seems to have died, and I actually enjoyed some of my mint chopped up over a fruit salad – winning!  Stay tuned for updates on how the garden does over the summer.

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Do you have a garden?  Fellow WNY gardeners, any tips for me to avoid killing my little baby plants?

6 thoughts on “Veggie Tales: Adventures in Gardening with a Toddler

    • Yum! My basil is looking a bit peaky at the moment – hope it perks up. My mint is going strong, which is of course the most important thing. 🙂

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