March traditionally sees the start of the gardening season in the UK by starting off seeds under cover that can later be grown outside. Even if you have just a small balcony or garden you can still grow some fabulous plants even vegatbles with the kids. To get them started you need very little equipment and you can start growing your seeds for a garden you can enjoy later in this year. Whether you use egg carton seed trays or like these our cardboard tube seedling pots you just need a window still and some warmth to get your seeds started.
What you will Need to Start Growing Seeds with Kids
Growing seeds is really easy and you won’t need much equipment at all. We are fortunate now to have a garden and have set aside some flower, vegetable and fruit growing areas. But when we started out we had very little space but still grew some of our own food that the kids could taste. So what do you actually need?
Just some seed compost (this is normally finer than the compost that you get for your garden. It also comes in smaller packages ideal if you are only growing a few things.
There are lots of varieties and really with kids I just pick up which ever is the cheapest that we can then use.
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There’s so much choice of seeds that I could seriously spend hours and hours browsing the collections online and in a garden centre. But some seeds are better to grow with kids and are easier to grow as well. We have put together our selection of best seeds to grow with kids but here’s just a few that we really recommend starting off.
- Pumpkin – especially for Halloween (they need quite a bit of space to grow though) -> Here’s the best way to grow your own Halloween Pumpkin.
- Sweet Peas – lovely fragrant cottage garden climbers can be grown in pots and if you leave a few pods to develop you have your seeds for next year as well
- Peas – get your kids to eat some vegetables when they grow and pick their own I still like to eat peas straight from the plant and can also be grown in pots
- Sunflowers – you have to grow them as a child (which I guess means I have never grown up as I still do every year) and again they can grow in pots as well.
- Carrots – again to eat and can be grown in pots plus it’s great for kids to explore what’s under the ground instead of above it. See how we have been growing our carrots with the kids since they were toddlers.
- Beanswhenever we pick up the packet of beans it reminds me of growing beanstalks for our Jack and the Beanstalk activities. You can even grow some in a jar so that kids can see what is happening under the soil as well.
Container to Hold the Seedling Pots
You can really use anything to hold your seedling pots, we bought some window sill propagators (this one is just like them) a while ago as I wanted to grow some tomato seeds as well as chili peppers. They are fantastic but you can make your own from the containers that strawberries or grapes come in from the supermarket. They make ideal little greenhouses.
A way to water!
Your little seeds will need water, you can buy mini watering cans for kids (check out this one it’s really cute), but we have found that with little hands especially when we were gardening with our toddlers and preschoolers they would over water with these.
Instead, we use spray bottles (a set like this one is great for play, art, and gardening with kids) as it stops them from overwatering the plants, especially when tempted to “play” with the watering over and over again.
Whilst you are growing the seeds why not read a book about seeds with your toddlers and preschoolers.
Labeling your seeds are essential – you can buy packets of plastic seed labels like in the image above which we reuse year after year whilst gardening with the kids (this pack has 200 in and will last you for ages and ages).
But craft sticks make excellent seed labels as well, just remember to use a sharpie pen to label them so that as you water the names of the seeds aren’t destroyed.
Cardboard Tube Seedling Post
You can sow your seeds directly into a propagator tray into the soil in nice neat rows, but for some especially beans or peas then creating little seedlings pots is great as they can be then put into the soil and they will biodegrade plus the roots will be able to escape down as they come apart. Just continue reading for how to make the pots as well as advice on growing your seeds with kids.
See what other gardening equipment we recommend for kids keen to grow their own flowers and food.
Making recycled cardboard tube seed pots
These cardboard tube seed pots are ideal for starting seeds off with kids whatever their age. We first made them when they were toddlers and preschoolers and have continued ever since.
Just follow the simple instructions below to create your own little pots and then fill with seed compost, add you seeds and read the next section on growing the seeds with kids.
1. Take a cardboard tube (we have an excess of kitchen paper tubes so we started off by cutting in half) and snip the bottom around half an inch from the base in 4 places.
2. Then fold each of the 4 flaps in to the centre and place in a tray or propagator.
3. Turn around and check that the bottom is closed.
4. Place in rows in the tray.
Starting off seeds
Gardening is such a fun activity that even your little ones can do it independently. Just follow the guide below.
Seed bags can be bulky and big so we transfer the seed into a container that we can close to keep the moisture in as well as make it easier to move and carry around. Our container is an old trash can!
With the compost ready it’s time to fill the pots – we tend to do this outside or over a tray so that the excess can be tipped back into the container or will be useful for the grass or soil in the garden.
Once full tap down and finish filling the cardboard tubes. Then it’s time to add the seeds.
With some seeds little fingers struggle to grasp so we sprinkle them on, other seeds like peas in the picture above little ones can grab and place in the pots and then push down into the soil to start them off. Remember to cover the seeds with some compost as well.
The first water, we use our little metal watering can – we have linked it above in the information about equipment you need and it’s great to give enough water for the seeds as they start. Once we move them to the window sill then the spray bottles come out instead.
Once on the window sill they are checked regularly to see how they are growing. The window sill doubled up as our nature area and you can see above some books, resources about frogs, and other things that formed part of our spring nature collection.
More Gardening Activities for Spring
Want to do more gardening then check out some of these other ideas for this spring as well.
- Grow a container salad with kids
- Make some stone plant makers that your kids can use once their seeds grow a little bigger
- Add some flowers that will attract some ladybirds and bugs to your garden
Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, teacher, mum, and home educator from the UK. She loves getting creative, whether it is with simple and easy crafts and ideas, activities to make learning fun, or delicious recipes that you and your kids can cook together you'll find them all shared here on Rainy Day Mum.