Passionate About Des Moines
and the Moms Who Live Here

Summer Gardening With Kids

After a never-ending winter, the first sign of green and sun brought some much needed outdoor time in our house. Wagon rides, parks, trampoline jumping, and our oldest braving the swing set on her own have kept us busy these last few weeks!

I love watching my daughter’s imagination expand to the outdoors and seeing her curiosity for bugs, grass, flowers, and dirt grow. Even the baby is getting in on the fun. She is experiencing the new feels of grass, wind, and sunshine.

For the last few years, I have tried my hand at some simple gardening and landscaping. Basic veggies, flowers, and mulch upkeep. This year, I am excited to add my daughter to the process. Her love for picking flowers (sorry neighbors!) and vegetables started to show last summer. I can’t wait to see what this year brings.

3 ways to garden with a toddler

Include your toddler in your gardening this summer and let them play and learn.

Plant Bulbs

We planted bulbs last fall with my daughter and it worked perfectly. She was so excited to help and her ability to do it independently actually helped me. I dug all the holes and showed her how to place the first couple. We used big chunky gladiolus flower bulbs and some spring mix ones from Aldi. At about $4/ bag and great blooms each year, they are a cheap and easy project that pays off. These can also be put in pots on the deck where they can be watched closely by the curious eyes.

Try Green Onions and Rhubarb

These plants are staples in a garden where a toddler is helping. They are tough enough to stand the test of curious hands and very difficult to kill off. Even if your future gardener walks right on top of them, they’re going to be fine. The green onions are great practice for cutting and the huge rhubarb leaves with juicy stems are perfect for a mess-loving kid. Right now, my daughter loves carrying the basket around, directing me to what needs to be cut next. My favorite thing about these plants is they come back fast so there is not a lot of wait time before you get to do it again.

Get Cherry Tomato Plants

If you don’t have a garden in your yard, this is an easy plant to put in a pot on the deck. Make it easy on yourself and buy the hardiest looking one from Hyvee when you grab your groceries this week. Don’t worry, you’re not too late, we’re just getting ours planted too.

The bright red tomatoes are the perfect size for little hands. Toddlers learning colors will get good practice deciphering between the green, yellow, and red fruits! Toward the end of last summer, this was something my girl was doing all on her own. It was so fun to see her pride and hear “Daddy, look!” with each perfect pick. A total win would be if she’d eat them…

Enjoy your summer gardening! I’d love to hear any more ideas you have to engage your kids. Has anyone had success with cucumbers or watermelon?

What other toddler-friendly plants do you have?

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