With last week seeing the official start of Spring our gardening and growing season has moved into full spring and we're starting off some seeds. When T turned 3 earlier this month as a present she wanted her own gardening gear to help us out so we put together a fabulous gardening set which I will share with you early next month and is perfect for gardening at home with preschoolers and kindergarten aged children.
Starting off seeds outside this early in the year is a little risky so we either use our windowsills or as we are very lucky our greenhouses with children using windowsills is a great idea as they can observe the growth at the same time.
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We have a small propagator in the kit that we put together for T but to make transporting the seeds easier especially with preschoolers it's good to make a compostable seed pot and our stash of cardboard tubes is perfect to make them from.
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 in inch from the base in 4 places. Then fold each of the 4 flaps in to the centre and place in a tray or propagator.
Choosing seeds for kids to grow
We're going to be growing lots of different seeds this year as we have the space however if your space is limited for what you can grow it's good to grow a mix of flowers and vegetables. Here's our selection for T.
- 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 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.
Starting of seeds
Gardening is fantastic and kids love to be involved - I try and make it as independent as possible for T so provide her with all of the tools and equipment she needs and guide her.
To help her out - I first put the compost that we use into a suitable container that she can reach into and can also carry around to where she wants to work. She can then use the compost to fill her pots up.
When dividing up the seeds we do a combination of her putting the seeds in and me placing the seeds on the top of the soil for her to put in - this is because although her gloves are child's gloves they are still a little big for her and she can't pick up small seeds easily.
Once all of the seeds have been put under the soil we water them - a small water can is perfect for play and for gardening with kids. We have plastic watering cans for play and then a little metal one for gardening.
The seeds are then placed on the windowsill and we check on them regularly to see how they are growing.
I will be sharing more gardening ideas and garden projects for Creative Family Fun outdoors over the following months. Please check back to see how our garden grows and add any ideas to our Facebook Page that you are trying with your kids.
Encourage Learning Whilst Growing Plants
I love to encourage the learning about plants whilst we go through the growing season. There are a few ways that you can do this.
One of my favourite easy plant science experiments to do with kids of all ages is to grow beans in a jar. As the beans grow you can see how the roots start to form and then the shoots. If you placed it side by side with the root viewer it would make a really great comparison to show the difference between vegetables and "fruiting" plants. Find full instructions on how to grow beans in a jar here.
Add some of these fabulous Gardening Books to your Book Basket whilst you start off your seeds and get gardening with kids. These books are our favourite books selected to read aloud with Toddlers and Preschoolers.
Grow, Cook and Eat Plan for Busy Parents
Because everything is included it's something that we've brought for ourselves and I'm already planning what the kids will be growing in their vegetable beds and containers in the furture and that we will be growing in our own raised beds. You really should check out the Meal Plan, Cook and Grow from Healthy Kids Inc and join our family planning, cooking and growing the food we share.