Gardening with a toddler is exercise in both stamina and patience for most adults. For me, it is simply a time to follow her lead and exercise my mantra for gardening with her: "Process not Product." Meaning the process is more important for her (and me) than the product of what we are doing. It is more important for her to learn that I trust and value her help than for the yarden to be perfect. This morning, the weather was lovely--full of Autumn breezes (likely a result of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irene), golden sunshine, and a quiet neighborhood. We began weeding the first bed of dying tomato plants, bug-eaten edamame, random tufts of grass, etc. I gave her a quick lesson on how to pull up a weed, relying on toddler instincts to kick in. She seemed to enjoy the activity. Her satisfaction was more important than pointing out the weeds she'd only halfway pulled up. She was determined to plant carrots-glorious carrots- before we did anything else. After planting several rows of carrots, she would walk by and lovingly spread out the dirt with her hands. Likely, we no longer have rows, but the carrots will still grow. I asked her if she'd like to sprinkle some of the fertilizer on the carrots (no worries, it was organic). She, of course, said yes. One particular patch is going to grow way better than the rest. As the morning heated up, her interest in continuing to help waned until it was time to water. She enjoyed getting to water all of the seeds we'd planted as well as the plants that we still have growing in the garden. However, our lovely rows of beets now have a large crater in the center from where she watered them. Like I said, process not product. Over time as we model the "correct" way to do things, she will self-correct, and, for now, we just enjoy her flare and enthusiasm. She was very excited after helping Dadoo take a wagon full to the compost bin. I enjoyed getting to spend sometime in the yarden planning and clearing and planting and watering. Jesse, I assume, just enjoyed the help outside.
Additional update: The cantaloupe were overrun by bugs and had to be composted. Several of the watermelons developed bottom rot. We still have a couple of small ones on the vine. The zinnias are giving it one last hurrah before their turn in the wagon. The tomato plants, in general, are doing well. A few have "bit the dust," but the rest are putting on new growth and blooming again- hopefully, a bit of pruning will help. We planted two varieties of carrots ( "Nantes" and "Chantenay Red Cored") and beets ("Detroit Red"). I haven't started broccoli, greens, or sugar peas yet- but will get them in the ground soon. Our fence and side yard were covered with morning glories- a lovely lavender colored variety. However, they'd gotten quite out of hand. We had to uncover our blueberry bushes, lavender plants, and the pear tree. We've reached that point in the year where many things are going to seed and can now be mowed over. This means that in a week, we'll have something that looks a lot more like a yard than a jungle or, maybe, not. Sometimes, even for us adults- it is about process not product.