The Clueless Gardener's Guide To Gardening... With Crazy Kids

If you follow me on social media, then you know I am OBSESSED with my garden. I lived in a third-floor walk-up for ten years, so just being outside in my own space is bliss, but to have a huge garden I can do ANYTHING with, is freaking outstanding. Now, that being said, I have absolutely NO CLUE what I'm doing.  And wouldn't you know, I have a corner lot that was lovingly cared for by a proper gardener for years. So, in addition to not having a freaking clue how to garden, I have a hundred different plants I know nothing about, which need tending.

And to top it off, I have a toddler who follows me around, banging on the plants and/or plucking their leaves and blooms.

With a little trial and whole lot of error, I've figured out a few super tricks to not only figure out my garden, but to get my toddler focused and interested. I thought I would share them, so not only can you too figure out how to transform your space, whether it's a balcony, patio or full yard into a paradise, but get your toddler to help!

This was when we started out fruit and veggie Garden. When I sit still in the garden for long periods, I put up out table umbrella to help keep us cool and shaded!  

My best tip for the clueless gardener is to take pictures of the plants they have no clue about. and then go to the local nursery or garden center, and match up the leaves, or just ask someone. Finding out what you have, and how to care for it properly, is essential.  Or, if you have a hole you need to fill, watch the area for a day to see how much sun/shade it gets, then go to the local nursery or garden center, and look around for something that catches your eye, then check out it's tag to see what kind of care it needs to thrive in your yard. OR! just ask someone...

My Instagram followers may remember this from last year when we bought the house, and I was just learning about my garden, and tell the great stuff in it...

Make the most of your space. Even at my third-floor walk-up, I grew herbs and had lovely hanging baskets. Whether you have a ton of space, or are limited to a pot next to a sunny window, you can grow something fabulous!

First, decide if you want to eat it, or just stare at it. Herbs are great for windows, but so are African violets, you decide. I was FLOORED when I found out I could grow strawberries in a pot. And here's the even crazier thing, growing strawberries in a pot on my patio has turned out to be the easiest thing! They grow with JUST water and sun.

All I did was plant the bulbs in a pot, place the pot in a sunny spot, and then water them daily, and just like the directions said, strawberries grew!!!!
This is at 4 weeks growth.

Let your child pick out a plant or two to call their own. In an effort to help Ollie understand where food comes from, I took him to the local nursery and let him pick out two plants that are, "his special plants". He picked out blueberries and cherry tomatoes and was over the moon when I told him if he took very good care of the plant, he could eat the yummy fruit from the plant!

Throughout the entire picking to planting process, I have been over the top about HIS PLANTS and how he is so great for caring for them. To my delight, he has really taken to HIS PLANTS   We water them daily and check their fruit ONE THOUSAND TIMES A DAY, but the bottom line is that my evil plan worked. He is so focused on his plants; he leaves mine alone!

When it comes to toddlers, busy work is best. When I need to get work done in the garden, and the wild one is not interested, I find him fun jobs to keep him busy. My four go-tos are:

  • Dig a hole a to China. It worked for me as a kid, and now, thankfully, it works for him. I take the wild one to the back corner of the yard and tell him to dig for treasure. This usually amounts to him flicking dirt everywhere, but that's cool with me if it keeps him busy for 5 minutes.
  • Build a HUGE pile of sticks. I get Ollie all excited about building a HUGE pile of sticks, then send him out into the yard to collect sticks and pile them HIGH. This is actually really awesome because it's helpful for me too!
  • Wash his tools: I grab a small bucket of water and tell him to clean his gardening tools, which usually amounts to cleaning a few cars and sticks too. 
  • Chalk it up. When all else fails, I throw sidewalk chalk down and let him color the footpath in the garden. 

Gardening is such wonderful therapy for both adults and children.  The fine and gross motor, and cognitive skills, my son both uses and acquires while gardening, make the mess and mind blowing amount of needed patience worth it. Watching him love and care for his blueberries, strawberries and tomatoes is amazing. And the life lessons he is gaining from learning not only where good wholesome food comes from, but how to grow food for himself, is epic.

April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit