Gardening at the Den

We have been doing the garden this month! I LOVE digging in the dirt. Gardening allows kids to experience some of the most tangible miracles in our natural world. It must be done.

Here are some of the things we’ve been up to:


The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

Two Old Potatoes and Me by John Coy

Delicious! A Pumpkin Soup Storyby Helen Cooper

These are the three I had on hand, and you can find a few more of my favourites on a list here. A quick browse through the library is sure to yield some good results.


We sacrificed and washed the soil off one of our pumpkin seedlings, then we made a picture of it.

Each child worked in a 9 x 13 cake pan of dried coffee grounds (thank-you, Aeropress). We used a pumpkin seed, a bundle of white thread and a piece of green construction paper. Everyone played for a while, laying their components out. The last step was to sponge the surface of the blue paper in a thin layer of white glue, then press it face-down into the cake pan. The result was a perfectly pressed picture and no sticky fingers. As you can see, it is better to only glue the bottom half of the paper, as the coffee tends to get spread out.

At music time we told the story of a seed and acted it out to music. We also play games about making vegetable stew. We sang “I’m A Little Seedling” à la “I’m A Little Teapot.” As the month progresses, they are actually making quite specific distinctions between plants and understanding how they grow differently.

We spent most of our time actually gardening, so in-house activities were less frequent…


We started seeds in egg carton trays of potting soil (pumpkins, squash, cauliflower, broccoli, corn)

We transplanted into containers out of the recycle bin (coffee cups, tin cans and small yogurt containers).

Each child over 3 had their own row to plant in my garden. This is how I organized it:

  • I laid out all the available seeds on the kitchen table and asked everyone to choose up to three things they would like to plant. I left out things that would not be contained in a row or would take too long to produce.
  • I helped everyone open the packages and count or measure seeds into three small containers with lids (film cans, tiny Tupperware, baby food jars, etc.) Keep the amount small… six peas, a sprinkle of carrots… figure out how much you will need for the space you have.
  • Each person got a gardening bag to hold their seeds and a small shovel. We also collected row markers and put them in our bags.
  • I hoed out four short rows and we planted. I tried to keep a balance between ensuring everyone had some success and staying out of the way.
  • A spice container with the right size of holes (coarse pepper?) is great for sprinkling tiny lettuce and carrot seeds in a block.
  • If you do not have much space, container gardening would work just as well: give each child a pot, draw four quadrants in the dirt and plant two or three seeds in the centre of each section.

I have to say that one of my most useful gardening tools is a small, light watering can that sprinkles water gently. Little people love it and use it often.

We also set up The Garden Report, a wall on which we will record our observations. I have paper shapes on which to write the date and make noteworthy pronouncements. The timeline will be laid out on the “dirt” below the poster. We are reporting collectively just in case someone’s seeds don’t make it.

One day we just dug in the dirt to see how many critters we could find.

We have been watering, turning and tending the compost.

Every once in a while we identify a new butterfly or bird. There is a Robin nesting on our neighbour’s garage. We check her out once in a while.

Really, this is for me. I’m glad kids like to dig in dirt and eat fresh veggies because I am relying on my garden to help keep me sane this summer.

I have planted spinach, garlic, lettuce, broccoli, red peppers, cherry tomatoes, brussels, red cabbage, zucchini and cucumbers in my garden. Some of it is squeezed up next to the apple tree, grape-vine and strawberry plants.

At my parents’ farm I was offered a generous piece of the garden. I put in parsnips, beets, carrots, snap peas, turnips, green beans, corn, spaghetti squash, pumpkins and red onions. My Mom has filled both her greenhouses with tomatoes (the replacement greenhouse was built, but the old one was still serviceable… what to do?), so I will be canning and freezing like a true homesteader in August and September

Perhaps we will see the difference in our grocery bill. Certainly, we will enjoy tending the crop and bringing in the harvest.


2 responses

  1. Good for you! I planted my garden by myself this year, which was wonderful productive quiet time for me. But I missed out on the fun and discovery we so enjoyed last spring. I love your idea of the four-quadrant container garden for the kids, though. I think that might be a good project for my crew, next week!

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