What It’s Like To Plant With 3-year-old Helpers


One of my helpers. Not 3 yet, but master of her universe. She has a cousin of about the same age, and he and she helped me plant today.

One of my helpers. Not 3 yet, but master of her universe. She has a cousin of about the same age, and he and she helped me plant today.

Well, I don’t think they are technically 3 yet—since both have birthdays later this month—but they are 3ish. They are certainly a dynamic pair, my two young garden helpers today. I had met the grandkids at a park and given one nearly 3 something a ride home on my bike, then took the other on a short ride before sprinkles called us home.

And then it was planting time. Phlox are still on the way, but pink Lily of the Valley and a bag of 25 Asian Lily bulbs had arrived in yesterday’s post. I don’t know where my not broken trowel is, so I had instead a handle less blade from a broken trowel, a shovel, a hoe and two energetic “helpers” as I headed out to the back door.

She: “I want to hold the scoop.” Apparently, “scoop” is 3-speak for “broken trowel.”
He: “Where is MY scoop?” He looked at me suspiciously when I suggested that instead he hold the flowers, and merely marched off toward the garden empty handed.

We arrived at planting site number one. It was lucky there were three Lily of the Valley, so I give one to him, one to her and put one in the hole myself.

That went well. The hoe cleared gravel, the broken trowel make a narrow, shallow trench, and into the ground went the hope of future pretty pink flowers. I’ve got a lot of white Lily of the Valley, which I really enjoy, but I’m looking forward to the variety of these pink ones.

The Asian Lilies, which involved deeper holes (rather than going 1-inch underground like the roots for Lily of the Valley, these bulbs were to be buried 6 inches deep) proved a bit more problematic to plant with ornery children as my posse.

Me: “Dig here.”
He: Digs in random place 6 inches away.
She: Tromps through daffodils to stand next to him and demand: “When is it MY turn?”

Actually, she had a bit more focus than he did, so her turn came up way more often than his since he was off randomly playing during some of the planting. I almost laughed out loud when he came up once, huffing with indignation that she had gotten to put all the bulbs in one hole. I hadn’t sent him off, he had wandered off, and it wasn’t her fault that she stuck around and got to do more planting. Anyway, he was quickly mollified when he got to hold the scoop and randomly fail to dig before I got my turn and actually made a hole.

It’s a bit of a trial planting stuff with young children. On the other hand, it’s totally worth it. There’s something deeply binding about planting with kids, and both of these young rascals are a bit more in tune with nature due to experience gardening with parents and grandparents.

He even has asked for flowers to plant for his third birthday, a request that seems unbearably sweet. I’ll have to find an actual trowel to take to his party along with some flowers.

And, in the end, the plants are in the ground. Here’s hoping they will produce more than rabbit chow!

I liked this bee image so much, which I shot Friday afternoon at Mount Mercy University, that I'm using it on both blogs. So there.

I liked this bee image so much, which I shot Friday afternoon at Mount Mercy University, that I’m using it on both blogs. So there.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “What It’s Like To Plant With 3-year-old Helpers

  1. Gardening and baking with young children: endeavors that can be wildly frustrating and messy in the moment, but completely worth it in the long run.

    • CRGardenJoe

      Indeed! Good and true analogy. This morning it was making banana nut bread with the female almost-3-year-old and her 1-something baby sister.

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