Thursday, April 22, 2010
In honor of Earth Day, I'm going to share with you my number one tip for gardening with children. Are you ready? Seriously, this has saved my sanity, and given my kiddos hours and hours of fun and exploration.
Create a Home for Wayward Weeds.
That's what we call it, anyway. It's a large planting container on the deck, deliberately chock-full of weeds. This started as a rescue mission -- the five-year-old was filled with pity for the poor weeds that I was mercilessly pulling from my vegetable garden. I had this container on the deck that hadn't been planted with anything yet that season, so I let her have it to transplant her lowly little weeds into.
Now anytime we're weeding and she sees a weed she particularly likes, she carefully transports it to the Home for Wayward Weeds and gives it a second chance on life. She is 100% responsible for the care of these plants. Thankfully, they're weeds, so they don't require much care (remarkably resilient, those weeds...). It's been fascinating to see all the different flowers that bloom from these usually-shunned plants. Some of them are quite beautiful. After all, a weed is just a plant growing where you don't want it. As soon as you've given it a home and are caring for it, it ceases to be a weed.
I love that I can give the kids total free rein in the Home for Wayward Weeds. They can dig, they can pick things, they can dissect the plants, and I don't bat an eyelash. And because it's in a container (and not really near any of the other containers), I don't worry about them spreading to where I don't want them.
We all know that kids can get a lot of satisfaction and a crucial reverence for nature by gardening. Why not let them start with something guaranteed to grow?