Light purple Bachelor's Buttons flowers shining in a field with sunshine

Planting Edible Flowers in the Toddler-Friendly Garden

 

Hello, friends! It’s almost officially summer! In our family, that means starting to putter around in the garden.

Our garden has four zones:

  1. a decorative front garden of mostly native perennials,

  2. a raspberry hedge,

  3. raised veggie beds, and

  4. our “fairy” garden, which is entirely run by our kids. (Yes, it is messy!)

Our family’s approach to gardening has always been one of curiosity, exploration, and — occasionally — benign neglect. Over the years we’ve had some lucky wins (ever tasted unintentionally dry-farmed tomatoes? Yum!) and some setbacks that took serious effort to correct (did you know that planting blackberries and raspberries together is not a good idea?).

We follow organic gardening principles, so we don’t use chemicals to kill or artificially boost anything in our garden. We mulch and use drip irrigation. We attempted composting for a while, but now most of our compost comes from our friendly neighborhood garden shop. And last spring, we wove our own edging with willow branches (a great, kid-friendly project).

Reasons I love gardening with my kids:

  1. They will try any food that they’ve grown themselves.

  2. Gardening cultivates their appreciation for the natural world, as they observe the garden's cyclical nature over time.

  3. They spend time outside, pursuing their own interests.

  4. I get to do something that I enjoy, while also providing supervision.

  5. The garden gives the kids another outlet for their creativity. (Garden projects don’t just have to be about plants!)

  6. Gardens provide many opportunities for sensory play, especially for the youngest children. Our toddler explores water, mud, soil, fuzzy plants, prickly plants, fragrant flowers, and tasty berries.

  7. The kids get to use their bodies to work hard and have fun.

Our garden is decidedly not fussy. I love it, but our style of garden isn’t for everyone. We choose plants based on goodness of fit for the conditions, as well as our own aesthetic preferences. We avoid plants we know are toxic and incorporate edibles in all sections.

My favorite thing to do is interspersing edible flowers with our veggies. The flowers attract pollinators, they look nice, and they’re easy to incorporate into salad mixes — since we’re out there picking greens, anyway.

Some of our favorite edible flowers to grow are:

  1. Bachelor’s Buttons

  2. French Marigolds

  3. Nasturtiums

  4. Calendula 

  5. Borage

  6. Violets

Happy gardening and growing together!

—Ama Liebke

Photo by Rebecca Matthews on Unsplash

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