How I Taught My Toddler to Garden

mobilegarden“Look mama, the plants are growing!” Hudson shouts, 10 minutes after we plant them.

“Sure they are!” I say attempting to match his excitement.

“I poured the water and digged with the green shovel,” he explains, his voice growing louder with every sentence. “And now they’re growing all the way to the top!”

I smile and nod in agreement. I love watching him experience things for the first time. His little 2-year-old face is so expressive, I can see the very moment he grasps a new concept, eyes bright with possibilities.

Having fresh ingredients on hand for cooking is essential, which is why I plant an herb garden every spring. In anticipation of Earth Day, I decided to incorporate our littlest gardener. Whereas in cooking his assistance usually led to sticky counters and burnt eggs, when it came to planting this little garden, Hudson legitimately helped every step of the way. Here’s what you and your little helpers will need:

Image Source: Amy Frances


  • garden tub or pot
  • soil
  • organic plant-based fertilizer
  • gardening shovel
  • gardening gloves
  • herbs
  • seeds
  • plant markers
  • watering can

Now that you’ve gathered up all the materials, it’s time to flex that green thumb! Here are my helpful tips to ensure a fun and fruitful gardening project:

1. Planter

First things first, some herbs (mint comes to mind) grow like a weed and thrive in outdoor planter beds, but others can be pretty finicky. My solution? Choose a garden tub or pot with mobility, so you can easily transport your herbs to the shade on particularly sunny days or inside when the weather heats up. You can find a replica of our garden container here.

Image Source: Amy Frances

2. Soil

Second — fill ‘er up! I started with a base of dirt and ground soil before adding in the potting mix. I have found that the blend of local and packaged soil produces the best results, just be sure to mix it together before sprinkling the top with fertilizer. Since you plan to eat and cook with these herbs, I recommend sticking with organic fertilizer, which just so happens to be better for the environment, too! This step is pretty messy, and you might be tempted to go it alone before bringing the little ones on board, but to a 2-year-old, there’s nothing more fun than playing with dirt!

3. Herbs

Speaking of dirt, the next step was for Hudson to dig up some holes and help me stick the herbs inside. When choosing your plants, think about the herbs you most like to cook with, and add in one or two you’d like to experiment with, as well. We love cilantro, basil, thyme, mint, parsley, and rosemary. I actually picked up potted herb plants in addition to seed packets to give us an opportunity to talk about where plants come from and to watch them grow from a teeny tiny seed into the food we eat. I could tell this idea didn’t quite sink in as we planted the sage and oregano seeds, but I can already picture his face once those little guys begin to sprout. Depending on the herb, it can take one to three weeks for seedlings to emerge, but in a couple months you’ll have fresh herbs ready for the picking. Definitely worth the wait!

Image Source: Amy Frances

4. Markers

Before our gardening session came to a close, we labeled each plant with its own chalkboard garden marker. If you’re using similar garden markers, avoid using real chalk, which won’t stand up to daily watering, and instead opt for a wax pencil.

5. Water

Last but not least, and easily Hudson’s favorite part of the whole afternoon — water your plants. It’s only been a few days, but every time he asks to water his garden (a minimum of several times a day), he can hardly contain his joy. “Gardening means you water something,” he informs me in his best teacher voice. And though I occasionally have to divert his attention to keep from drowning our herbs, I can’t help but smile. I understand his anticipation — I can’t wait to see my little one grow too!

Image Source: Amy Frances
Image Source: Amy Frances
Image Source: April Frances
Image Source: Amy Frances
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