I am a sucker for kids seed growing kits especially when I pass by them on clearance. The one I found was the Growums Herb Seed Kit at Lowes on clearance for $2.49, though typically they run for $5 so not a bad price at retail.
The kit includes 8 peat pots, bottom watering container to hold them, and ~20 seeds of basil, cilantro, oregano, parsley (each with matching labels for each peat pot with colorful characters on them.
It also came with a secret code that gives you access to an online site where the kids can watch for directions on how to start their plants and some additional advice on topics such as watering and pest control in short animated videos which had a bit of a Veggie Tales feel to them (minus the religious stories) The site also features a few garden related games for the kids to play.
Overall I like the design of the planter as it is very easy to setup basically place it on a sturdy container (cake/pie pan) and add a cup or so of water and watch the peat pots grow and plant 3 seeds in each pot and then water as needed and bring outdoors. I think the online portion is a nice touch to get your kids/grandkids dig a little more into the caring part of the plants versus planting some seeds and heading on their way. Given this uses standard sized peat pods you can easily use the planter again and again with the remaining seeds or any other variety you choose.
Along with the “herb garden” we got they also offer a “taco garden”, “salad garden”, “pizza garden”, “ratatouille garden”, and “stir-fry garden” which offers different selections of seed varieties associated with the theme.
Tip to gardeners with two year olds, don’t keep you seeds on the counter within some little hands reach. I was at least happy she was nice enough to bring the seeds from the kitchen counter to the kitchen table to open and pour them out…much easier to clean up than rubbed into the carpet.
Happy seed starting…
There’s nothing quite like letting a child grow their own vegetables to encourage a fussy eater to try new foods. Kids love to get out in the garden and plant their own veggies (preferably getting as dirty as possible in the process). The only frustration that you might encounter is that seeing results can be a bit of a waiting game, especially for those kids who plant seeds in the morning and expect the fruits of their labor to be ready for consumption within just a few hours! Here’s our top tips for growing vegetables with kids.
What you’ll need …
- Seeds are the starting point for any green fingered adventure. No really! If money is tight, there are numerous ways to get your hands on free vegetable seeds. Just be sure to involve your kids as this will make the whole thing seem even more exciting.
- You’ll also want to get hold of some kid friendly gardening tools. The grown up versions are just too heavy for little hands, not to mention potentially very dangerous.
- A dedicated area of the garden just for them. That is unless you could live with tiny hands pulling up your prize radishes before they’re ready to go and tiny (but surprisingly heavy feet) stomping all over your baby lettuces.
What you should grow …
As mentioned kids like nothing better than instant gratification. There’s not a whole lot of that around in the pursuit of gardening. Although you might very well derive a sense of inner satisfaction from seeing a freshly laid row of seeds, kids often fail to see the attraction. The next best thing to instant gratification is perhaps continual gratification, so draw yourself up a schedule of what is going to ready first and plant accordingly. Once you’ve been going at it for a while, you should be able to come up with a schedule that yields regular results.
- 1. Cress. We all know cress is not the most exciting thing in the world, but it grows super fast and because of that it’s always a great place to start. Nothing else is going to give you something that’s ready to eat in around a week, plus kids can grow funny cress hair in broken egg cups. What’s not to love?
- 2. Beans. Another thing that gives kids those quick results they yearn for is beans. They’ll love making a little “tee pee” using bamboo stakes tied together in a pyramid shape. The vine will start to grow within about ten days. It can be fun for kids to watch how quickly the vine shoots up (measure every few days to monitor progress), not to mention the possibility of them starring in their very own version of Jack and the Beanstalk.
- 3. Cherry tomatoes. Nothing says instant gratification than a food you can eat right off the plant. Go for a variety of different colors to up the fun stakes and without too much delay your kids can start enjoying these sweet, healthy snacks. Just don’t be under any kind of illusion that even one of the cherry tomatoes will reach the kitchen.
- 4. Potatoes. Growing potatoes can be immense fun with children since when it comes to harvesting time it can rather feel like digging for buried treasure. “I don’t like digging for treasure” said no child ever! It’s undoubtedly a lot of fun, but you must always make sure that children don’t eat the toxic leaves, sprouts, and fruit stems of the plant. For this reason, unless supervision is guaranteed, save the potato growing for older children.
- 5. Pumpkins. What child would ever pass up the chance of growing their very own Jack O Lantern? Not many, that’s for sure! We love the tip provided by Erica over at Northwest Edible Life who advises that a child’s name carved into the green skin of a softball sized pumpkin will scar over and retain the carving as it grows to maturity. The result is rather fabulous personalized pumpkins.
- Why not try introducing your children to the delights of growing their own vegetables? It may or may not solve a fussy eating issue, but even if it doesn’t, at least you will have both had fun trying. Isn’t that what parenting is all about?
Linda Forshaw is mum to five year old Freya. As well as being a regular contributor to college resource site Degree Jungle, Linda is a full time writer and blogger specializing in education, social media, and entrepreneurship. Contact her on Twitter @seelindaplay
With a piece of cedar fence board and a few nails you can make your own ladybug house to give your army of aphid eaters I nice comfortable place to take shelter between battles
This project started with my youngest daughter (5 years old) has been asking every weekend, “Can we build something with wood?” Finally I came up with this project which we had a great time building.
- 1 — Cedar fence board
- about 12 finishing nails
- small hinge
- 1/2-3/4 drill bit
- paint for decorating (optional)
Step #1 – Cut the boards: Given the cedar board should be 5-1/2 inches so the cuts should be pretty straightforward. Cut the following pieces:
- Front Panel — 5.5” by 5”
- Back Panel — 5.5” by 5”
- Bottom Panel — 5.5” by 5”
- Top Panel — 5.5” by 4”
- 2 X Side Panel — 5.5” by 2.5”
- Room Separator — 5.5” by 1”
I used a circular saw for my cuts…yes I really should invest in a chop saw or table saw so hopefully your cuts will be a little straighter but I am sure the ladybugs will not mind.
Step #2 — Nail two sides to back panel
Step #3 — Nail front to sides and back panel
Step #4 — Nail bottom panel to ladybug house.
Step #5 — Drop room separator inside house.
Ladybugs are social and like to group together but sometimes thy like to live in smaller groups, this divider will give an additional area for the ladybugs to hang out.
Step #5 — Attach top using screws and hinge
Step #6 — Drill 3-4 holes into front and sides and decorate (optional)
Step #7 — Hang close to your garden
Now of course the decoration part is optional unless you are a 5 year old then it is required. Here she is carefully deciding what to paint with her marker next…
This site was practically started because of my oldest daughters science fair project Why Don’t Strawberries Grow in the Wintertime? Now with my youngest in kindergarten she was very excited to have a science fair project of her own, which should be pretty obvious from the picture above.
With no influence from me she decided on answering the question if smaller seeds will sprout faster. These days science fairs are more than just gluing some some Styrofoam balls to a couple hangers and calling it good. They require using true scientific methods and procedures, which is pretty advanced for a 5 year old, although she didn’t seem to notice. Here is the contents of her experiment…
Hypothesis: Smaller seeds will grow bigger in a shorter amount of time because their roots don’t need to grow as big to support the plant
Procedure: I planted 3 seeds of each plant type (lettuce, cilantro, pumpkin) and watered them and gave them sunlight and I watched them grow.
Results: I planted the seeds at the same time and measured the growth over 2 weeks. The lettuce was the first one to sprout. The cilantro was the next one to sprout and the pumpkin was the last one to sprout. At week one, the lettuce was still the largest, cilantro was the second, and the pumpkin was the smallest
Conclusion: Smaller seeds sprouted and grow quicker than larger seeds.
I was very impressed with her project as well as the hypothesis, one of those moments of thinking, “hmm…is that how actually works…” Though you probably can think of a few plants that would break the hypothesis but pretty much on target for most plants.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that kids these days are not as patient as previous generations. Personally I feel this is less on a change of parenting but a result of children’s expectations created because of the advance of technology. For example, When my daughter asks to watch a particular show “On Demand” and then 5 minutes later asks me to “pause it” so she can go potty. This makes me think back to the days of having a single TV station we could pick up with our antenna, which seemed to play reruns of MASH 24/7.
The great thing about gardening is with the exception of seed hybridization, synthetic fertilizers, and maybe techniques like hydroponics the hobby hasn’t changed too much in the past few hundred years. It still takes 1-3 weeks for seeds to germinate not matter what technology you throw at them. This is why I feel gardening is a great activity to share with the young ones in your life to help offset the instant gratification they see on a daily basis.
Here are a couple of ideas how to do this any time of year:
Cup of Dirt: Give your young one a cup of dirt and some seeds. To keep them interested give them a spray bottle to water everyday to keep them coming back every day to check how their plant is doing. The spray bottle will provide just enough water on the surface to allow the seeds to germinate and what kid doesn’t like to play with a spray bottle.
Sprouting in a Jar: I have a complete post on this topic, but the process is pretty simple. Get a mason jar and add some seeds. Rinse, drain and repeat. In just a few weeks you will have tasty and healthy sprouts you can add to your salads, sandwiches, stir-frys, etc.
Growing plants in water: Now this can be as complicated as setting up a hydroponic environment or as simple as taking a spider plant start and placing it in some water and letting your young one watch as the roots develop and transplant and care for it as a new plant.