As a suburban family, trying to live a naturalistic life, planting an annual garden has become a necessity in order to save a little money to eat organic foods. Last year's garden saved us over $500 in organic kale alone! But now that my little Luke is a rambunctious, busy little boy, I have found the task of planting our garden a little more difficult than in years past. Here are the three biggest tips/tricks that I have for anyone who wants to plant a backyard garden while taking care of a 2 year old :)
Firstly, distraction with some natural, imaginative, toys. My little Luke loves to be physical.... he loves to run and jump and tumble and play. But having a few pieces of "equipment" has been a huge help in keeping him occupied for a good 20-30 minutes at a time. We have a handful of different sized tree stumps set up in the back yard. Not a day goes by that Luke doesn't come up with a new way to use them. This year he was doing "Spiderman Jumps" while I planted some of the garden. And, I find it interesting that the next door neighbours, who have a big playset (play house, swings, slide, etc), enjoy coming to our house to play on the stumps too. So, these free-to-us stumps were essential to the success of the garden.
Secondly, build up! This year we lucked out and got the "leftover" cedar log siding from my parents' newly built log home. With these pieces of wood, my husband and his brother built raised beds for us. We don't have enough good earth and compost to completely fill them yet, but every year we'll add to them to eventually fill it up. Anyway, having the raised beds has helped to keep little feet out of the soil of newly-planted seeds and seedlings. The simple barriers/boundaries of the beds have given Luke a way to stop, think, and realize that he shouldn't be in them.
And lastly, make sure you leave some space for your toddler to play in the dirt. This year we gave Luke his own small raised bed, and we call it "Luke's Garden". He can do whatever he wants with this space. He can dig, rake, hoe, etc. We gave him his own seeds to plant .... leftover pumpkin seeds, and beans - big seeds that were easy for him to hold, and see. I doubt anything will actually grow in there as he drowns it when he waters his "baby sprouts", and he stands and stomps and jumps in it on a daily basis. But having his own space to do whatever he wants in, I find, is essential. It makes him feel just like Mommy and Daddy, and it's great sensory play on a daily basis :) .
So there you have it. My top three tricks for finding the time to grow your own food while still looking after your toddler. I highly encourage you to get out there and plant a small garden. It's so rewarding and so educational for your little ones. Plus, it's easy cash in your pocket :) .