Planting Seeds with Kids
Planting seeds with kids is an easy and inexpensive way to spend time together and teach at the same time. My children are in awe of the sprouts that emerge from what looked like dry little specks and all it takes is a little soil, some seeds, simple containers, water, and a little warmth and light.
Bigger seeds are easiest for small hands to manage. We love planting sweet peas, lupine and nasturtium (soak these seeds overnight first for a little head start on sprouting). Sunflowers are always thrilling because most kids can visualize the towering beauty in its full glory. Cosmos and Bachelor Buttons are favorites as well for their quick germination period (results appear after only 3 to 5 days) and easy “transplant-ability.”
If a children’s vegetable garden is your goal then one of the most exciting crops for kids is pumpkins–they take up a lot of space but the payoff is extraordinary. Lettuce, radishes, bush beans, and carrots are great too. With carrots and pumpkins, look for the smaller varieties if your growing season is short. Tomatoes are always fun too but we’ve never started them from seed (small cherry tomato seedlings do best in our short Pacific NW growing season and the kids love popping them in their mouths). Eartheasy shares some great details if you want more specifics on each type of vegetable.
Once you’ve chosen seeds, the next step is to prepare your planting medium (mix it almost half and half with water and allow the liquid to absorb), either potting soil or seed starting mix, and choose containers.
Seed starting kits work too but almost any container will work and this is a great opportunity to reuse materials that would otherwise go into the recycle bin. Clear, lidded containers make lovely little greenhouses but almost anything will do: jars, trays, and even egg shells! However, while they were cute and fun to use and label with sharpies, we found the eggshells were harder to keep moist and harder to transplant since the roots stuck to the egg lining.
Be sure to read each seed packet to know the depth at which to plant the seeds and once you’re done, give the seeds a nice gentle spray to help get them started.
If you put them in a warm, bright spot and remember to keep them watered, it won’t be long until you see lovely little sprouts coming up through the soil.
Another amazing benefit from planting seeds with kids is that they’re much more likely to eat the vegetables they helped grow and pick. We recently threw a “Salad Celebration” at my son’s school and many of the 100+ First Graders came back for seconds!