Tuesday, July 5, 2016

10 Tips for Weeding WITH Kids WITHOUT Losing Your Mind

Every vegetable gardener knows weeding is a necessary task if the end goal is to actually produce food.  But weeding takes time, and depending on the size of your garden, maybe hours of your time.  Here in Wisconsin our summer arrives somewhat late and autumn all too soon.  As a homeschooling mom I try to soak up every bit of summer I possibly can before we hit the books again in September.  Baseball games, homemade ice cream, swimming at our “swimming spot”, BMX races, gymkhana games, walks on the cranberry marsh, fishing – these are the things I want to fill my days with.  This may sound strange, but I also want to spend my time weeding.  I love being in the garden.  It’s close to our pond so I can hear the bullfrogs croaking, the loons calling.  Now, enter the kids.  They don’t share my same love for weeding, but in order to enjoy my list of summer fun, I need their help.  I can’t possibly get it all done alone. 

I bet you’re thinking this blogger lady is crazy if she thinks I’m going to take my rambunctious kids into my precious garden.  I thought that once upon a time, too.  But I also subscribe to the idea that kids need to learn life skills at home and from the beginning.  I’ve been gardening with kids for nearly 19 years and have learned a lot along the way.  If you’re in need of extra hands in the garden and have kids, I have tips for you.

Weeding WITH Kids WITHOUT Losing Your Mind

11.        Think Ahead – Plant extra seeds and seedlings.  There are bound to be plant casualties when kids enter the garden. Period.

22.        Wait – It works best if the plants are at least 4 -5 inches tall before employing the kids, that way the plant is easily identified and not mistaken as a weed.  (FYI:  employ does not equal pay)

33.        Pack-n-Plays are Your Friend – For anyone under 2.5 years the pack-n-play or Ergo is your friend.  Toddlers simply can’t be trusted in the garden.

44.        Set a Goal – How many rows or hills do you want to get done?  If kids know the goal they are much more apt to work diligently to get the job done.  If the goal is met quicker than you thought, stick with the goal.  Don’t add an extra row or two.  Mutiny will ensue.  I know this, through experience, to be the truth.
55.        Simple Jobs for the Littles – My littlest kids (ages 2, 4, and 7) are given simple jobs.  They pick up piles of weeds and place in a bucket.  Then the weeds are carried over to  
the chickens for their picking pleasure.

66.        Choose the Right Time of Day – My favorite time to weed is when the sun is blazing down, it’s slightly humid, and any normal person would rather be at the beach or waterpark.  My kids are more on the normal side.  They are much more willing and helpful if the day is slightly cooler, the bugs aren’t swarming, and they’re not tired.  Morning works well – after they’ve been fed, but still energized from a good night’s rest.

77.        Memorize a “Watchout Phrase” – My phrase is “Hey, Hey, Watch the Plants”.  It seems like don’t step on the plants! Or even step over the plants! Might be more effective, but, “Hey, Hey, Watch the Plants” always comes out.  Find your phrase and be prepared to say it 100 or more times at each weeding session.

88.        Sing Songs – My kids go to summer camp and always come home with all kinds of silly and spiritual songs.  Assigning parts and singing in 3 part harmony either gets us all laughing or mad at each other.  Either way it helps to pass the time while weeding.

99.        Laugh – Remember to laugh.  The baby might be crying in the pack-n-play, the 3 year old just stepped on a bean plant, the 7 year old pulled an onion, the 11 year old is hot and tired and letting everyone know it, the teen is scolding everyone for working so slow, and all you want is to weed in peace.  Laugh, it’s contagious!

110.    Have a treat – When the weeding goal has been reached, have a popsicle or whatever treat your family likes.

Happy Gardening and weeding!

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