Indoor Sprouting

I’m no gardener. Sure, I have flowers all over my yard, I grow enough vegetables to bother canning, but I consider that a miracle of nature, not anything I do. I throw some plants in the ground, and if they’re lucky I remember to water them in the heat of summer. If they’re REALLY lucky, I may actually fertilize them. The only thing I try hard to remember to keep fertilized is my tulips, because my soil is two steps shy of toxic, and tulips like sunlight and fertilizer, and my tulips are spectacular (my soil is so bad that the only reason my flowers look good is because in our second year, we scraped away all the soil and replaced it with 5 cubic yards of new soil. Move away from the new soil, and the plants don’t do well).

But hope, like the seasons, springs eternal, and every year I start out hoping my gardens will outdo themselves (Not likely. I planted 150 croci, and 8 survived). I pour over the catalogs and dream of a yard landscaped out of a high-end advertisement, wanting to buy 50 of those beautiful flowering plants, only to sigh when the ad says they cost $30. A plant.

If you don’t want to sink huge coin into plants that, like my azaleas and pink dogwood (who else manages to kill a pink dogwood?), are likely to croak before the end of the season, there is always the elusive task of growing your own from seed.

Yeah, right.

That always works for other people, who, when the weather warms, bring out trays and trays of robust seedlings ready for transplant, when, despite the best potting soil and grow lights and care, I have spindly little fragile things in half my pots, wishing they could die and end their misery. I repeat, the beauty of my gardens is a mystery.

I prefer to purchase my seedlings from local nurseries – they have a much better shot at living – but I dutifully fill a tray or two of seeds with the kids in late winter, hoping to inspire a love of nature, and maybe a greener thumb. It doesn’t take much – a $2 packet of carrot seeds, a glass container, and you can watch roots grow as well as green leaves. Sadly, planting seeds and watching them grow doesn’t always inspire kids to eat that vegetable. Plants can be started in egg cartons, yogurt cups, red Solo cups, even eggshells – seeds, as you can tell from the cracks of pavement, aren’t fussy on where they sprout, though you may have to move them to a bigger cup if you’re using eggshells. If nothing else, it gives the kids something to do on a dreary day.

But seeds take time, and kids aren’t patient, so what are the easiest seeds to grow? The cheapskate in me says plant seeds for the most expensive plants you want to grow, but that doesn’t mean the seeds will take. I’ve planted enough catnip seeds for a jungle, and just five plants finally grew – outside, not in a pot. I could mention morning glories, but morning glories are a lifetime commitment; they can be invasive, and even if you plant them only once, you might be yanking up sprouts for the next 10 years. These are some of the best seeds to grow with kids, and some books to help you once they’re past their leafy infancy. Give it a try!

Marigold
Zinnia
Peas
Bush beans
Tomatoes
Peppers
Watermelon
Cat grass
Nasturtiums
Sunflowers
Corn (or better yet, try your own popcorn.
Even if the ears are 2″ long, it’s fun!)

Want to learn more about starting a garden? Check out the 635 section of non-fiction books in both the Adult and Children’s sections at the library:

Nitty Gritty Gardening Book

New Gardener’s Handbook

Sowing Beauty

Backyard Herb Garden

 

High-Yield Vegetable Gardening

Super Simple Kitchen Gardens

Starting and Saving Seeds

Seed Sowing and Saving

 

Epic Tomatoes

Starter Vegetable Gardens


The New Seed Starter’s Handbook

Plant Parenting

Get Gardening With the Whole Family

Spring is here. This means it is a perfect time to start researching and planning what you want to grow this year. I am already dreaming about sunflowers, lavender, fresh tomatoes, and a variety of other produce and herbs. I love to garden, and have always been spoiled with the gift of family with very green thumbs. I adore fresh flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables and am glad to grow or have access to a wonderful supply each year.

kidgardenDuring the garden planning and planting process do not forget that everyone can take part in gardening. No matter the age, we can all dig a hole to plant a seed or young plant, pick out a plant to grow, or help chose a container to plant in. A wonderful trick to getting children (or adults) to try new foods is to have them help grow, pick, and help wash and prepare them.

kidgardens44The library has a vast gardening section in the adult nonfiction section to help with the important planning and plant choices. However, do not overlook the books in the children’s room. These books can give gardeners of all ages some ideas and inspiration to garden as a family, or to give the kids their own special little container or garden space. Here are a few of the great gardening books about involving children and getting them excited in the process.

Garden to Table: A Kid’s Guide to Planting, Growing, and Preparing Food by Katherine Hengel with Lisa Wagner
Container Gardening for Kids by Ellen Talmage
The Family Kitchen Garden: How to Plant, Grow, and Cook Together by Karen Liebreich, Jutta Wagner & Annette Wendland
The Nitty-Gritty Gardening Book: Fun Projects for All Seasons by Kari Cornell
Gardening Projects for Kids: 101 Ways to Get Kids Outside, Dirty, and Having Fun by Whitney Cohen and John Fisher
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children by Sharon Lovejoy
Kids’ Container Gardening: Year-Round Projects for Inside and Out by Cindy Krezel
How Does Your Garden Grow?: Great Gardening for Green-Fingered Kids by Clare Matthews
Gardening With Children by Monika Hannemann
A Kid’s Guide to How Herbs Grow by Patricia Ayers
It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden by George Ancona

This slideshow requires JavaScript.