Here in Southern California we can plant pretty much year round but I wanted to share my journey gardening with a toddler for everyone else in the country who can't really start planting till Mother's Day because of Jack Frost and all.
There is nothing better than seeing your little one pick their own tomato or strawberry and eat it!
I def learned a ton, made a huge mistake, and ended up with a bunch of pics to show you our story.
It is worth it Mama!
The most important thing I learned was that a 2 year old does not have the patience, or understanding to let the fruits and veggies ripen before they are plucked.
My BIG mistake:
I planted everything in reach for her. Good intentions but def lead to frustration.
I just had to let go of control and know that half of what we planted would never ripen.
We still had the best time discovering new blooms and playing in our garden together as you'll see from all our pics!
The point wasn't to fill our bellies on fruits and veggies... it was to have an awesome experience teaching and growing what we eat together.
Let me preface the entire post with you don't need an above ground garden like I have! You can use a large pot, or a few large pots!
My goal is to have your little one picking beans, or strawberries, or cherry tomatoes for themselves and totally feeling like a farmer.
Waaaaaay easier then milking a cow right?
Firstly, I had to take out all the weeds and turn the soil around to get it nice and loose and ready for planting.
To give you and idea of what it looked back before... here is TBT of Stella James in front of the garden about a year before now.
We needed to start from scratch
I learned that my daughter enjoys eating dirt. "Fine, go ahead and eat it... see if you like it".. She does.
Once I just let the kid snack on dirt we had a great time getting messy and discovering fragrant plants like rosemary and mint.
I secondly had to prep the soil by adding some bags of above ground plant food. You can go to home depot or a local nursery and just ask someone for nutritious soil for a pot, above ground bed, or like the ground ;)
Here we are prepping the soil. Stella James was a huge help. One shovel in. One shovel out.
She'd be GREAT for bailing out a boat... not so much for gardening.
Time to hit up our local farmers market and pick out some toddler friendly plants. This year I wanted things she could "harvest herself" like peas, beans, strawberries, arugula, and herbs.
My go to pro Jimmy from Logan's Garden's in Silverlake, CA said...
Mint is the easiest thing to grow and the most fun for kids to pick and eat.
It grows like crazy so we stuck ours in a pot. We went with classic Kentucky mint and Ginger mint... cause... cocktails and all.
We planted everything at the beginning of April... and waited.
Now here is what our garden looks like about 2 months later...
We are still adding to our garden but now whenever Stella James is outside, she picks her own cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans, strawberries, mint, arugula, thyme, basil, and rosemary. I just think it's so cool she can go out to the front yard and snack.
And now that we spent the time making our garden look and taste great we love being around it and can have more fun doing things like this together with the extra daylight hours...
Our garden has been growing for about 3 months now. The chicken wire I had tented in the corner is finally being covered in pole bean greens and looking like the nook I intended. So happy with it.
Her cousin, Indiana, visited from New York and flipped out over the garden. The girls had so much fun playing in it and discovering what was ripe enough to pick and eat. They also picked a ton that wasn't ripe yet. The moms ate a lot of green tomatoes.
See how pumped she in the video below.
Will def be adding more updates! Leave a comment below if you feel inspired to try a garden yourself. Even an herb garden on the sill can provide tons of excitement for your little chik.