Over the years one thing I have come to enjoy is watching my children's love for gardening grow. No matter how small a space it was, my oldest loved to play in the dirt, sow her seeds nurture them and eat the “fruits and veggies” of her labor. It was always a wonderful experience season after season to watch her in awe as her little plants began to grow.
To start each year I would gather up my seed catalogues and decide which plants and veggies I would like to try this year as well as gather up some old favorites and then we would order them. I would go to our local nursery and gather up some basic start up sets for the seeds. And then we would wait until the postman would bring that special package with our new seeds. My daughter was always so happy that day and wanted to get started “immediately!”
There are many things that my girls learned from gardening, from the most basic lesson of plant germination, the lesson of importance of sunshine and need to make sure that the plants have the correct amount of water and nutrients.
Gardening is a wonderful hobby to share with your children. You do not need to dedicate a huge amount of space and if you live in an apartment you can even use containers or window boxes.
Starting the Seeds Indoors
You don’t need to be like me and order from catalogues. You can go to your local nursery which is usually stocked up at this time of year with seeds and kits to get you started.
We usually pick out a Cherry tomato as they are so sweet and juicy and can be grown in a container if need be. After you decide which packets you want to get be sure read the back of the packages to find out when to plant,(this is important if you want to start sowing the seeds with your children)how deeply to plant, (if you are planning on doing this later in the spring directly into the dirt) and whether the seeds must be started indoors.
• Purchase "starting soil", or make your own with equal parts potting soil, sand, and vermiculite.
• Place soil in egg cartons or plastic trays. For a "hot house" effect, you can purchase domed seed starter containers. Or you can be eco-friendly and reuse a container that you might have gotten rotisserie chicken in. (just make sure to give it a good wash before use)The black plastic tray is great for absorbing heat, and the clear plastic dome allows sunlight in, while retaining warmth and moisture.
photo credit: Wrapables dot com
Another child friendly way to start seeds is to use egg shells! Not only are they cute but again they are eco-friendly.
How to make an egg-pot:
• When cooking eggs, carefully crack and save lower two-thirds of shell intact.
• Wash them and let them air dry
• Fill shells with potting soil.
• Add one or two seeds.
• Water gently, put egg shells in egg carton and cover with lid. Keep soil moist but not soggy.
• It is fun to do this with grass and make it look like a little head, children get a kick out of “cutting” the hair, and drawing faces on the outside of the shells.
Here are a few other fun ideas to do with your children:
Recycled crafts Growing in Fun Containers
photo credit: recyled crafts
Take your child along to the nursery and let him or her pick out some small flower plants or seeds and plant them in a fun, funky container. Use your imagination! Anything that can hold dirt can be a planter.
Some ideas for planters:
• An old sneaker or a boot
• Small wagon or cart
• Barbie convertible car
• Toy dump truck
• A ball with the top cut off
For best results make holes in the bottom of whatever you’re using for drainage. If that’s not possible, put a layer of small stone in the bottom and then potting soil on top.
Make a green-haired funny-face and watch his hair grow!
You will need:
• 2-liter soda bottle
• Paints, markers, googly eyes and supplies to decorate
• Potting soil
• Grass seed
1. Cut the top off the soda bottle
2. decorate with eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
3. Place potting soil in bottle
4. sprinkle with grass seed
5. apply another layer of potting soil on top.
6. Water often and expose to sun.
7. For best results, poke holes in the bottom of the bottle and place on a drainage saucer.
But whatever you choose to do one thing I am sure of is your children will really enjoy it! Let me know how does your garden grow?