I love letting my girls help in the garden. There's only one problem - unless its picking tomatoes, they're very rarely actually helpful. And the garden is a very fragile place this time of year, with teeny little seedlings that have barely poked their little green leaves through the soil, and many seeds just planted, trusting me not to compact the soil they'll have to push through soon.
Little legs wobble precariously, and little feet come crashing down in places where they weren't intended. It's a fact of life with Two Little Girls. And so I find myself saying "No! You can NOT go in the garden any more! No digging! You could step on my baby plants and KILL THEM! And then you will not have any spinach and you will STARVE!"
Which is, okay, maybe a little over the top. But you never know how you might react when someone threatens to harm a tiny little plant that has been placed in your care. I'm actually a little more over protective of my plants than my kids... but it's easier to kill a plant.
I decided I hated feeling like the garden nazi. I want my kids to love this early stage as much as they love the weeding and harvesting that comes later, when plants are established. But how to hand over the job of planting seeds? It's a very exact science, especially with teeny little seeds like carrots and onions. Not easy for little fingers to manage.
So we compromised. I gave them their own space. I moved my garden fence, set up a 1-foot high fence they can step right over, and I gave them about 12 square feet of earth. Their very own garden. They dug it up, they mixed in compost. Then they each carefully planted a row of carrot seeds, watered them, mulched them, and watered again. (Okay, Cora's two. She's got a small patch where she dropped all the seeds in one place. But it pleases her, and that pleases me.) There were also many worms to be found - and played with.
Chloe's got big plans. Pumpkins, green beans, zinnias and daisies, carrots, spinach and maybe celery. She's like me- she forgets that she only has a limited amount of space. And if Andrew won't dig up the rest of the back yard for me, he won't likely do it for her, either.
It's a good compromise. They have their space, right up against mine, so we can still work side by side, and I don't suffer from palpitations at the thought of compacted soil.
And as we were finishing up, ya know what I heard? "Cora! You're gonna step on the carrots! If you step on my carrots, you will kill them, and then you won't have any carrots to eat all summer long!"