when they touch the soil and witness something growing from it, they learn how much they are part of this earth..
Farm and garden work are very much part of our every day life. For one, we are running an organic agriculture enterprise. At the same time, we are growing as much food as we can in our own backyard because we want to eat fresh and healthy all the time. This has rubbed off on our kids, and in fact, they now play a bigger role in tending to our backyard garden.
You might wonder, what kind of gardening work can young children actually do? Pretty much everything, I would say. Our boys’ gardening routine includes one or more of these activities each week.
Sowing seeds. Sowing seeds is their first gardening lesson. This is actually a good activity to improve fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Some seeds, like lettuce seeds, are really tiny that the boys, with their small hands, will often do a better job at seed sowing than Turo.
There is also a hidden math lesson, because they are required to count and tally how much of each type of seed they have sown, and how much of those they have sown eventually germinated. Below is a photo of a tray of lettuce seeds the boys planted. Notice that some boxes are empty, meaning germination failed. They need to keep track of how much actually germinated, if they need to plant another batch of seeds, or if the seedlings are enough to fill the space allotted for that particular crop in the garden.
Preparing garden beds. We grow plants on raised beds so they are more manageable and easier for the kids to tend to. First, the boys collect dried leaves from around our yard. We are blessed to have lots of trees around, which shed lots of leaves almost all year round. They collect fallen leaves in large buckets and then pour these inside the garden boxes. When the boxes are filled, they water it down and then shovel in compost and used coffee grounds. The compost, they make together with Turo, and the coffee grounds they ask from the barista whenever we go to a Starbucks or Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf shop.
Plant seeds/seedlings. When the beds are ready, they are ready to plant germinated seeds/seedlings. Below is a bed they recently planted with white corn seeds. Turo will give them instructions on the planting distances (drawn on the whiteboard), as these vary with each type of crop. The boys then complete the work themselves, with minimal supervision.
Make compost. This is an activity they do with Turo as there is a lot of shovelling and compost turning involved. Their role is mostly to collect freshly cut grass from the university grounds to use as compost material.
Watering plants. Watering the plants is their daily gardening activity. Ari, who wakes up early, is in charge of watering plants in the morning. Uri does the watering in the late afternoon.
At this point, they have enough gardening experience to know where they will use the pressurized sprayer (for tiny seedlings) and where they need a sprinkler instead. All watering is done manually, using recycled water from baby’s bath.
Harvesting. The most exciting part of gardening work is reaping the fruits of their labor. Most of the time, they just want to sell what they grew so they could make money. But of course I always want to eat or cook everything. So when there is surplus, which is not very often given that we have limited growing space here at home, they can sell to their grandparents or relatives who live nearby.