It appears that we are (I am) embracing the concept of slow gardening. I'm finding it easier to let go of the need to get it all in quickly and in one giant attempt. Yes, this garden of ours is going to go in nice and slow.
I think that children will be more willing to help if they know that there will be a finish time. While I struggle with the seeming paradox of keeping the peace and teaching to finish the job that is started, I think I should be able to manage our garden work in bite-sized chunks. So, today, in our hour-long window, we planted zucchini, cucumbers, sui choy, pak choy and broccoli. We did a bit of watering. We stared wide-eyed as an ant dragged the body of a much larger insect along the dirt. And we did a bit of garden art.
Our garden art project came about from a deficiency in last year's garden. Last year, I did a poor job of marking our rows. In the heat of the moment, I just didn't take the time to purchase or make proper row markers. So this year, I thought we would use paint stir sticks (free!) to mark the rows and the children could decorate them, if they wanted to. But it turns out that paint stir sticks are scarce right now, and we needed to make new fences for our peas to grow anyway, so we purchased longer 1" x 2" than we needed and cut them down, with the short left-over ends being our row markers. As one set of large hands was finishing up his tasks while the smallest was starting to get restless, I brought out the acrylic paint, the paintbrushes, and let them decorate (and label) to their heart's content. I'm feeling as though I came across a brilliant idea to keep the littler hands occupied while the larger ones and I do our garden work, as I can see there will be plenty of leftover space for future paintings. All I need to do is add the painting supplies to our gardening stuff and we're set!