Earth Day is next week. In celebration, the girls and I have been exploring all about seeds, plants and gardening this week. It all started when Big M went to Home Depot with the hubby last weekend and the cashier gave her a tiny pot of sprouting grass…
We let her water it with a syringe and put it in the kitchen window during the day, and it literally has grown about an inch a day! Every morning she asks me for the ‘number tape’ to see how much it grew overnight. The magic of science in the eyes of a 3 year old is definitely contagious.
How Does Your Garden Grow?
Having been bitten by the gardening bug, I decided to take full advantage of her sparked interest. We have been reading books about plants, drawing sidewalk chalk diagrams, and even starting our own vegetable seeds! The girls have been completely fascinated by it all.
Gardening Books for Kids
Last Easter, I bought Big M the Lois Ehlert’s Growing Garden boxed set. All her books are beautifully and vividly illustrated, and the Growing Garden set includes three books: Planting a Rainbow, Eating the Alphabet and Growing Vegetable Soup. To be honest, the books hadn’t received much attention over the last year – but they are now her favorites. She wants to name every plant, flower and vegetable she sees, and even selected purple pansies by name for our front door pot!
Lessons with Sidewalk Chalk
One of our favorite springtime activities is drawing in the driveway with sidewalk chalk. I love how our drawings and Big M’s involvement have evolved as she’s grown – from making the occasional mark or line as a toddler, to wanting to explore all she’s learning about. In the past, we have practiced shapes, colors, letters, numbers – drawn hopscotches and a brief phase last summer included the solar system on repeat. So this week, of course, she asked me to draw about how plants grow. I was happy to oblige. (Lil’ M is still in the making random marks phase – they appear in blue in the mix below!)
Who needs a chalkboard or classroom when you have a whole driveway and Crayola Sidewalk Chalk? A box of 48 colors will cost you less than $5, and we are still working on our box from last spring.
Having become fascinated by plants and the growing process, I knew it would be mere days before Big M asked if we could grow our own seeds. We currently live in a townhouse that is part of a condominium association, and as such, have never been able to have a garden, other than a small, potted herb one before. BUT we are moving in a few weeks to our first house with a yard. I have been dying to have a garden, and Big M’s new interest is a great excuse to do it this year. And the good news is we could start the seeds now on our back patio.
My Gardening Gurus
All that being said, I had never done this before. I have been collecting pins on a Gardening Pinterest board for years, but fortunately I have some great friends whose expertise I could lean on. My favorite gardening resources in this process so far, who have answered more questions for me than I can count anymore, are:
My cousin, Veronica, who is an urban gardener in LA and all-around foodie. Good news is her expertise is available to non-family members as well via her website and blog, Food Is How I Say I Love You. And as she explains in her bio, this is in our DNA – so I can’t screw it up, right?
My blogging tribe buddy, Evelyne, who is a farmer in Ontario – while Veronica can pretty much grow just about anything almost year-round, Evelyne shares my New England, cold weather limitations. You can find all of Evelyne’s great gardening advice at Nemcsok Farms.
My fellow kids’ activity blogger, Amanda. She blogs at The Educator’s Spin on It and has amassed more than 50 articles on gardening and, better still, gardening with kids.
What to plant?
Given where I live, and this being my first time starting anything from seed, I tried to pick some options that were full-proof. I parked the girls in front of the seed stand and let them pick from some defined options. We came home with pumpkins, butternut squash, several varieties of tomatoes and a salad assortment pack (including mesclun, cucumbers, radishes and beets). Home Depot is currently having a big sale on seeds (BOGO) at least where we live in late-to-arrive-Spring New England.
How to start them?
I knew I needed some good potting mix, so we got a bag of that along with our seeds. And while you can start seeds in literally just about anything, given ours need to survive a move, I decided to go with something a little sturdier than recyclables. I got these biodegradable Jiffy starter pots at Home Depot, though they came in a set of 7 with a plastic tray to hold them. The good news is the tray is reusable annually, and the pots are replaceable.
I let the girls be in charge of filling the pots with potting soil. Totally true to character, Lil’ M grabbed dirt by the handful and filled her pots. Big M, avoiding getting dirty by all means possible, carefully filled her pots by scooping the dirt with a pot and filling the rest of the pots in her tray.
Next, we watered our dirt. And finally, we planted our seeds… Lil’ M was over it once the dirt was put away and I wouldn’t let her dump out the pots, but Big M was all about carefully inserting seeds into each pot.
We came back to label them with craft sticks labeled with Sharpies the next day – here’s to hoping I didn’t completely mix them all up, and that they actually sprout. I will keep you all posted!
We hope our novice adventures in gardening will give you inspiration to start some seeds of your very own for Earth Day! Have you ever grown a garden with your kids before? What did you plant? Did they enjoy it?
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to follow our Pinterest board, How Does Your Garden Grow? for more great ideas, tips and kid-friendly garden activities.