Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Welcome to the May Carnival of Natural Parenting: Growing in the Outdoors
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they encourage their children to connect with nature and dig in the dirt. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

This month's Carnival Post was written by my hubby, Ken. I will admit that he is the green thumb in the family, so I wanted to share his perspective on gardening with kiddos. I am so grateful that he has introduced the kiddos and I to gardening. It's something we have all come to love and enjoy!

Shrimp tails (not the meat, but the shell), 
Bar of soap and 
Radishes right out of the ground. 

That is a short list of the things that my son has willingly put in his mouth without me asking. Let me add, he enjoyed all with equal vigor. 

About 4 years ago I read "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver and decided it was time for me to try to grow some veggies. I have improved my gardening skills dramatically since that first year, but the biggest change has been the involvement of my kids. Last year, we grew an intense garden of veggies in a 4 foot by 24 foot raised garden bed. It was a nightly routine to go out to the garden and pick a few weeds, pull a few carrots, pick some berries and eventually tomatoes. 

Both of our kids are carnivores. They don't usually like green/orange/red/purple food, that is unless its growing on a plant in our garden. It is an amazing thing to see a one year old boy who is just learning to walk reach into a tomato plant, pull out a tomato, and stuff it into his mouth. It brought a smile to my face to see his face covered with tomato juice and seeds. 

The most amazing thing about this whole process was seeing him eat radishes. Now even for grown adults radishes aren't a popular veggie. But he would rip one right out of the ground, ask me to spray it off and then proceed to disassemble this red bulb with the 4 teeth that he had at the time. My wife and I thought to ourselves that we should add these to his meals, so we brought a few indoors, cut off the stem, and offered them to him. Nope, not that way, was his response. Only from the garden, and only with the stem on. Amazing.

This year, one of the first things to pop up was the mint. One day while we were outside, my daughter noticed the mint and pulled off a leaf and started chewing on it. Of course her brother wanted some too, and soon enough the two of them had minty green smiles. Now every time we pass by that garden bed he screams "MINT!! MINT!!" in his little exasperated toddler voice.

The benefits of gardening with my kids have been that now that our daughter is nearly 5 years old, she regularly eats greens (and reds/oranges/purples) and we never obliged her to do so. She has just naturally come to enjoy them. She loves digging in the dirt and helping plant seeds. She has an understanding of where food comes from and how long it takes to grow. She also has no idea what pesticide is, but rather that ladybugs eat other bugs that we don't want on plants. 

I know my son will eat more veggies at some point, and I don't have to force him to eat them now. I can disguise them, yes, but I know he will get there. He will have grown up putting seeds in the ground and eating the produce of this labour. Sure he's going to eat the occasional blob of play-dough, or take a chunk of soap, but what he's going to keep doing for many years is enjoying fresh produce, and hopefully (once all of the play-dough is out of his system) he will be healthier for it.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Get Out!Momma Jorje gives reasons she doesn't think she gets outside enough and asks for your suggestions on making time for the outdoors.
  • How Does Your Garden Grow?The ArtsyMama shares her love of nature photography.
  • We Go Outside — Amy at Peace 4 Parents describes her family's simple, experiential approach to encouraging appreciation of nature.
  • My Not-So-Green Thumb — Wolfmother confesses to her lack of gardening skills but expresses hope in learning alongside her son at Fabulous Mama Chronicles.
  • Enjoying Outdoors — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine describes how her children enjoy the nature.
  • Five Ideas to Encourage the Reluctant Junior Gardener — For the rare little ones who don't like to get their hands dirty, Dionna at Code Name: Mama offers tips for encouraging an early love of dirt (despite the mess).
  • Connecting to NatureMamapoekie shares how growing your own vegetable patch connects your child to nature and urges them to not take anything for granted.
  • The Farmer's Market Classroom — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction shares how the Farmer's Market has become her son's classroom.
  • Seeds — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment's hubby Ken shares his perspective on why gardening with their kiddos is so important . . . and enjoyable!
  • Toddlers in the Garden — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares her excitement as she continues to introduce her toddler and new baby to the joys of fresh veggies, straight from the garden.
  • Nature's Weave — MJ at Wander Wonder Discover explains how nature weaves its way into our lives naturally, magnetically, experientially, and spiritually.
  • Becoming Green — Kristina at Hey Red celebrates and nurtures her daughter's blossoming love of the outdoors.
  • Little Gardener — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis looks forward to introducing her baby girl to gardening and exploring home grown foods for the first time.
  • Cultivating Abundance — You can never be poor if you have a garden! Lucy at Dreaming Aloud reflects on what she cultivates in her garden . . . and finds it's a lot more than seeds!
  • Growing in the Outdoors: Plants and People — Luschka at Diary of a First Child reflects on how she is growing while teaching her daughter to appreciate nature, the origins of food, and the many benefits of eating home-grown.
  • How Not to Grow — Anna at Wild Parenting discusses why growing vegetables fills her with fear.
  • Growing in the Outdoors — Lily at Witch Mom Blog talks about how connecting to the natural world is a matter of theology for her family and the ways that they do it.
  • A Garden Made of Straw — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares tips on making a straw bale garden.
  • The Tradition of Gardening — Carrie at Love Notes Mama reflects on the gifts that come with the tradition of gardening.
  • Gardening Smells Like Home — Bethy at Bounce Me to the Moon hopes that her son will associate home grown food and lovely flowers with home.
  • The New Normal — Patti at Jazzy Mama writes about how she hopes that growing vegetables in a big city will become totally normal for her children's generation.
  • Outside, With You — Amy at Anktangle writes a letter to her son, a snapshot of a moment in the garden together.
  • Farmer Boy — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how her son Joshua helps to grow and raise their family's food.
  • Growing Kids in the Garden — Lisa at Granola Catholic shares easy ways to get your kids involved in the garden.
  • Growing Food Without a Garden — Don't have a garden? "You can still grow food!" says Mrs Green of Little Green Blog. Whatever the size of your plot, she shows you how.
  • Growing Things — Liz at Garden Variety Mama shares her reasons for gardening with her kids, even though she has no idea what she's doing.
  • MomentsUK Mummy Blogger explains how the great outdoors provides a backdrop for her family to reconnect.
  • Condo Kid Turns Composter and Plastic Police — Jessica from Cloth Diapering Mama has discovered that her young son is a true earth lover despite living in a condo with no land to call their own.
  • Gardening with Baby — Sheila at A Gift Universe shows us how her garden and her son are growing.
  • Why to Choose Your Local Farmer's MarketNaturally Nena shares why she believes it's important to teach our children the value of local farmers.
  • Unfolding into Nature — At Crunchy-Chewy Mama, Jessica Claire shares her desire to cultivate a reverence for nature through gardening, buying local food, and just looking out the window.
  • Urban Gardening With Kids — Lauren at Hobo Mama shares her strategies for city gardening with little helpers — without a yard but with a whole lot of enthusiasm.
  • Mama Doesn't Garden — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life is glad her husband is there to instill the joys of gardening in their children, while all she has to do is sit back and eat homegrown tomato sandwiches.
  • Why We Make this Organic Garden Grow — Brenna at Almost All The Truth shares her reasons for gardening with her three small children.
  • 5 Ways to Help Your Baby Develop a Love of the Natural World — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama believes it's never too early to foster a love of the natural world in your little one.
  • April Showers Bring May PRODUCE — Erika at NaMammaSte discusses her plans for raising a little gardener.
  • Growing Outside — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers how to get her kids outside after weeks of spring rain.
  • Eating Healthier — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey talks about how she learns to eat healthier and encourages her children to do the same.
  • The Beauty of Earth and Heavens — Inspired by Charlotte Mason, Erica at ChildOrganics discovers nature in her own front yard.
  • Seeing the Garden Through the Weeds — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro talks about the challenges of gardening with two small children.
  • Creating a Living Playhouse: Our Bean Teepee! — Kristin at Intrepid Murmurings shares how her family creates a living playhouse "bean teepee" and includes tips of how to involve kids in gardening projects.
  • Grooming a Tree-Hugger: Introducing the Outdoors — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her planned strategies for making this spring and summer memorable and productive for her pre-toddler in the Outdoors.
  • Sowing Seeds of Life and Love — Suzannah at ShoutLaughLove celebrates the simple joys of baby chicks, community gardening, and a semi-charmed country life.
  • Experiencing Nature and Growing Plants Outdoors Without a Garden — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares some of her favorite ways her family discovered to fully experience nature wherever they lived.
  • Garden Day — Melissa at The New Mommy Files is thankful to be part of community of families, some of whom can even garden!
  • Teaching Garden Ettiquette to the Locusts — Tashmica from Mother Flippin' (guest posting at Natural Parents Network) allows her children to ravage her garden every year in the hopes of teaching them a greater lesson about how to treat the world.
  • Why I Play with Worms. — Megan of Megadoula, Megamom and Megatired shares why growing a garden and raising her children go hand in hand.


  1. I love this perspective from a dad. My grandpa was a gardener, and I wish so often that he'd lived to teach me some of his skills (he passed away when I was six). Kieran enjoys going outside and working with his own dad so much, I know that if Tom took up gardening (fat chance!), it would really up Kieran's interest. Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. I love what kids will eat. ;) What an encouraging post, though — I hope gardening has the same effect on my little color-shy young one. I don't like to force veggies, either, so it's good to know a garden can inspire tasting and trying things that would otherwise be off the menu.

  3. First of all: I'm a sucker for daddy posts, so this is quite the delight! Especially since I have always been the one responsible for all things garden, so this is quite refreshing.
    It's funny how, same as in my post, you have made the link between healthy eating habits and homegrown foods too... though my daughter has never been a difficult vegetable eater. But that's also due to the fact that we eat paleo and veg is at least 65% of what we eat

  4. When I read 'Locavore' by Sarah Elton I was inspired to become an urban gardener. The book has a lot of information about farming in the Maritimes and it just seems to me like the East Coast must produce some fabulous vegetables--including in your garden!

    I'm still hoping my children will think positively about eating homegrown vegetables....

  5. Your kids are very smart - I agree with them that everything tastes better straight out of the garden. Even as an adult, I'll only eat peas if I pick them from the garden. Encouraging your kids to explore food from early on seems to be paying off for you. And a kid who likes radishes! Wow!

  6. I love it, and can just picture your son's gummy, minty grin. Too adorable, and great post!

  7. I realized after reading this that the same thing is true for my boys. They love their fruit and meat at the table...maybe a salad but the true feasting happens outdoors. :)


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