Welcome! Thanks for taking a peek in our garden! If you’re just joining us, here’s what you’ve missed of our Gardening Skill School so far:
- Little Green Thumbs’ Skill School #1: Can You ⛏️DIG IT?
- Little Green Thumbs’ Skill School #2: HUNGRY DIRT😋!
- Little Green Thumbs’ Skill School #3: 🌿Weed, Water, Watch, Wonder!🌻
Gardening Week, Day 4: PICKING PRETTY; plucking petals, herbs, and veg!
Today, we’re teaching our kids the proper way to pick flowers, herbs, and veggies. Plus we’re getting pretty with piles of petals!
SKILL SUPPLY LIST:
- child-sized gardening tools
- child-sized gardening gloves (if the child doesn’t care for getting hands dirty, and for picking from prickly plants such as cucumbers)
- basket and tray
- vase or jar (optional)
VOCABULARY TO INTRODUCE:
- names of each flower, vegetable, or plant in the garden
- picking terms: pick, support, stem, stalk
- parts of a flower: stem, center, petals, pistil, stigma, sepal, style
- digging terms: mound, mote, berm
Lesson One: STEM LEARNING
Hooray! It’s finally time! We’ve planted and watered and weeded and fertilized, and at long last . . . we get to pick something! It’s no secret that kids love to pick flowers and snag veggies and herbs in the garden. But, have we taken the time to really show them HOW to pick them, each unto its kind? Before beginning this Skill School week, I know I hadn’t! Oftentimes as parents, it seems we try to “brush-educate” our kids; playing the defensive and falling prey to reactive parenting, complete with flustered corrections grunted out at our children as they make mistakes . . . mistakes they haven’t been properly taught not to make.
I feel like this is never more true for me than in the garden. My toddler plucks a flower without a stem (again!) and I react the same way I usually do, with a “honey! It needs a stem!” I react rather than teach; taking the time to put down the hose, spade, or basket, kneel down next to her and run my fingers down the stem of a flower with her, slowly lifting leaves for her to truly see precisely how to pick a flower. Then, again, this time guiding her hands. Then yet a third time, this time just watching her short fumbling fingers, clumsily plucking a crumpled nasturtium. And smile. Am I the only one who has to remind myself to smile? We can rain sunshine down on our little growing green thumbs with one facial movement.
1.) Let’s slow down when we’re in the garden. Let’s take the time to teach our kids to pick pretty! Let’s teach them the names of each flower, vegetable, and plant in the garden. As we work in the garden, let’s be sure to point to each plant and label it as “edible” or not, pausing as we go to pluck a mint leaf; to smell and taste all the edibles with our kids. Isn’t that why we planted the garden in the first place?
2.) Let’s show our kids how to pick a flower that actually has a stem. Let’s show them how to pluck a flower without a stem (in case they don’t already have that one mastered).
3.) Let’s show our kids how to pick a green bean, tomato, or cucumber while gently supporting the plant with their other hand so that we don’t harm it in the process of harvesting. We can tell them that we must be kind and courteous to the plant if we expect it to keep giving us more produce. We can teach them the expression “do not bite the hand that feeds you” and revise it to “do not damage the plant that nourishes you.”
Lesson Two: PILES OF PETALS
Grab your toddlers! This is the perfect activity for little kids who love to pluck the tops off flowers! But kids of all ages will enjoy this activity. There are so many common flowers—nasturtiums, pansies, marigolds— we have in our yards that can be dried and made into herbal tea, added to season salts, or saved to be sprinkled as a spice on salads or soups in the dead of winter. Best of all, the way to prepare these edible flowers is just too much fun, it’s almost like God intended for it to be a task entrusted, even gifted, to a young child.
1.) Give your child a basket and set her free to pluck the tops off the marigolds, nasturtiums, chamomile, or pansies! Preparing marigold leaves for tea is particularly fun to tackle with children because the petals must be yanked from their green chambers and set free in a deliciously fragrant mound of color. In the words of our first-grader: “this activity is just SO SATISFYING.”
2.) The green bottoms are discarded, and the petals are then laid out flat to air dry. They can then be added to loose leaf tea, homemade bath salts, or even in salads if you can stand the flavor. Pansies, nasturtiums, and chamomile can be used much the same way, except they are laid out to dry whole. Edible flowers can even be added fresh to water or frozen into ice cubes for sipping pretty all summer long.
You just never know what your kids will discover when you are in the garden together! Who knew that the mouths of marigolds can play the olive game!
3. If your little one plucks a pile of flower tops that are inedible, or at least that you have no intention of eating, you can always let your child arrange them in a bowl of floating flowers. This was my mom’s specialty. “Oh! Flowers!” she would say, as I extended to her a hand-basket of snapped off daisies. “Pick them with stems next time,” she would say with a smile, “but I’ll float these in a bowl of water.” And she graciously did. Every single time.
Lesson Three: Herbaceous Pluck
Harvesting herbs is truly a sensorial treat. Kids love smelling herbs, picking herbs, hanging herbs, tasting herbs. It’s an activity that is as healing to your soul as it is to your body. And it’s as happy for your home as it is for your heart.
1.) Teach your child how to pluck or cut long stalks of herbs such as lavender, sage, rosemary, yarrow, chamomile, basil, oregano, mint, and thyme. Show them how to place the stalks all in one direction on a tray or in a basket for easy bouquets.
2.) Show your older child how to secure a bunch of herbs with twine, or allow your younger child to assist you by employing their little finger while you secure each knot. Then, allow your kid(s) to help you hang bunches of herbs decoratively around the house.
BONUS activity (just for fun!): HOMEMADE PESTICIDE . . . TEA?
I just learned about this fun little activity and haven’t even had a chance to try it with the kids. It’s so simple and lovely, plus it includes making one of my very favorite things . . . tea!
1.) Pick a basket of nasturtiums with your kids, put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them to make a tea.
2.) Allow this liquid to cool, remove and discard the flowers, then put this “pesticide tea” in a spray bottle and let your kid(s) go to town spraying the plants for unwanted bugs! Apparently, this is a very effective bad-bug-repellant. And it’s so natural the kids could drink it with excellent vitamin content as the only side-effect.
Tune in tomorrow for Day Five of Gardening Week: 🐞MINISCULE GARDENERS🐝!
Thanks so much for reading!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~