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February 2018
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Gardening With Children – Sowing Seeds (Literally and Figuratively)

This week’s exercise with Jackson in the garden was sowing pea seeds.  Its always great when you explain the results.  Jackson loves peas and has since he was very young.  He’s also spent quite a time planting them with me and harvesting them with me (and shelling them with his mama).  In fact, the “Grow” soundbite at the end of each podcast is him telling peas to grow as he planted them (he was 2 at the time).

We packed our materials to the front field which was originally going to be pasture but has now morphed (for the time being at least) into a “crop field”.  This front field is where we are going to plant…well crops.  Anything we want a lot of like peas and beans, zucchini, pumpkins, etc.

We started out by laying out lines with contractor twine.  I went down each line and poked a hole about every 4 inches apart.  Jackson came behind me with the jar of peas and dropped one in each hole.  Then we both went back and covered them over with a bit of dirt.

So the first lesson for me and anyone reading this who is or will be working with children is the old cliche that patience is important but so is time.  Jackson kept missing holes and my first instinct is to correct him but eventually I realize that no one enjoys an activity that they are constantly told they are doing wrong.  I tell him one time calmly and then reinforce it when it happens again just to let him know.  I don’t believe in pretending like it was perfect but I also don’t believe in yelling over essentially nothing.  I don’t want him to grow up believing he is entitled to praise just for trying – he has to succeed.  That may seem cruel but this entitlement attitude has led to a lot of bad things in our society in my opinion.

I mentioned time above.  Time is important for two reasons.  First, sure this takes a little more time.  I would have finished quicker if I had just done it myself.  I would not have had to correct (many!) mistakes and could have rushed through it.  But isn’t it important to slow down in the garden?  Isn’t important to sow the seeds for the future?  To me, its worth it to show him enjoyment and teach him than to rush through something myself.  If it slows me down to enjoy it, all the better.

There were several funny little episodes.  He was really enjoying it because he was acting silly and saying silly things.  This includes the time that the peas spilled themselves out of the jar “all by themselves”.  It takes practice really to have patience as a parent when you take something seriously.  Its easy to pooh-pooh someone who doesn’t but usually they are just as impatient.  Not everyone can be Gandhi.  But eventually I was just laughing at things like this and when he worried he put six peas in one hole I just said, “Don’t worry about it (with a smile).”

In the end it took us all of half an hour and in that time the garden held his attention.  That’s saying a lot for a four year old.  Now we have a 20×5 foot pea patch and hopefully he learned some things as well.

2 comments to Gardening With Children – Sowing Seeds (Literally and Figuratively)

  • Mark

    Jason, I have a 4 year old son and 7 year old daughter that help me all the time in the garden. They love throwing basil seeds whenever it starts to set seeds, the same goes for buckwheat, and our other food crops are improved by all the beneficials.

    I try to teach them something new every time we’re outside.

    Thanks for the great podcasts, you’re doing an awesome job.

  • Jason


    That is great.  I’ve been asked a lot about kids and gardening lately.  I’m glad to hear other’s experiences!