I don't exactly remember how old my siblings I and were when we first started to help plant the garden, but I believe we must have been about Jonah's age. It was a family tradition for us that every year on Memorial Day we would plant the garden together. Mom would buy the plants and dictate the quantities of thins to plant, but other than that, it was up to Dad and us to do the planting. She took care of all the canning and freezing later on. So Dad would oversee the whole project. We all helped and we all worked together. And it was actually fun, even though it was a lot of work. (It makes a difference to be working with Dad) As we got older, we were each given more difficult jobs respective to what we could handle and by the time we were teenagers, we knew the whole process. Dad had special techniques to allow the younger kids to help (without it having to be redone afterward).
So now I'm finding myself doing all the same things with Jonah that Dad did with me at that age, and later with each of my siblings. Last night when we were planting our sweet corn, of course Jonah wanted to help. So I found him a stick about 5 inches long and showed him how to put down a seed, then the stick, then a seed at the end of the stick. Move the stick and repeat. Stick, seed, stick, seed. This way all the seeds are evenly spaced. It took Jonah a few tries to get the concept and figure out which direction we were going, but soon he had it figured out. Sometimes he still needed a little coaching ("Put the seed at that end of the stick. Now move the stick... now another seed. No, move the stick first... only one seed... now move the stick. No, put it right here so it touches the other seed. Now a seed at this end... And move the stick.") but he made it to the end of the row!
This morning, I put in a second planting of potatoes. Nathan had dug up a new garden spot to supplement the other one, so we decided to fit in a few more potatoes. And Jonah got the same job every three-year-old in my family got-- run along and drop one seed potato in each hole. And he did well (the key seems to be the ability to understand the concept of one).
My Dad is a good teacher... Not only do I know how to plant my garden, but I also know how to train my helper.