Planting Seeds with Kids

Planting seeds with kids is an easy and inexpensive opportunity to spend time together and teach at the same time. My children are in awe of the sprouts that emerge from what look like dry little specks. All it takes is a little soil, some seeds, simple containers, water, and a little warmth and light.

Step 1: Seeds

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 for their quick germination period (sprouting after only 3 to 5 days) and easy “transplant-ability.”

Boy planting seeds

An herb garden can be endlessly satisfying because of the wonderful textures and smells but if a children’s vegetable garden is your goal then the most exciting kid-crop is pumpkins. They need a sunny space and take up a good bit of space but the payoff is extraordinary. Lettuce, radishes, bush beans, and carrots are reliable sprouters too. With carrots and pumpkins, look for the smaller varieties if your growing season is short. Tomatoes are fun but we’ve never started them from seed (small cherry tomatoes do best in our short Pacific NW growing season and kids love popping them in their mouths). Eartheasy shares some great details if you want more specifics on growing each type of vegetable.

Step 2: Soil

Once you’ve chosen seeds, the next step is to prepare your planting medium (mix the seed starting mix or potting mix almost half and half with water and allow the liquid to absorb), and choose containers.

Step 3: Containers

There are excellent, inexpensive seed starting kits available but almost any container will work. In fact, this is a great opportunity to reuse materials that would otherwise go into the recycle bin. Clear, lidded containers make lovely little greenhouses but seriously, almost anything will do:  jars, trays, and even egg shells! However, while they were cute and fun to use and label with sharpies, the eggshells were harder to keep moist and harder to transplant since the roots stuck to the egg lining.

Egg Shells as Seed Pots
Our egg shell “seed pots” decorated and labeled with sharpies.

Be sure to read each seed packet to know the depth at which to plant the seeds. Once you’re done, give the seeds a nice gentle spray to help get them started.

Put them in a warm, bright spot and remember to keep them watered and it won’t be long until you see lovely little sprouts coming up.

Step 4: Water and Wait

There are some really cute Kid’s Garden Sets on Amazon (I like this one because it includes a spray bottle which is great for not displacing newly planted seeds when watering them). However, most kids are eager to dig right in to the soil without thinking about gloves or tools.

Child looking at lupine sprouts

Step 5: Harvest & Eat!

Another amazing benefit from planting seeds with kids is that they’re much more likely to eat the vegetables they help 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!

Individual Salads for First Grade Salad Celebration
All of the lettuce and radishes in this picture were grown in my son’s school’s first grade gardens. Organic carrots, tomatoes, and cucumber were generously donated from Trader Joe’s.