Indoor gardening with kids has become a popular trend — especially starting seeds. Here are three ways to make it fun, cheap and easy.
1. Seeds and Seed Packets
My 5-year-old, Maya, loves choosing her own seed packets. Some of the easiest seeds to start indoors, then transplant outdoors, include peppers, squash, broccoli, pumpkins, basil, dill, daisies, sunflowers and marigolds.
For best indoor sowing times in your area, look on the back of the packet (I like the ones with color-coded maps by hardiness zone on the back). Or, enter your zip code into Burpee.com’s “Growing Calendar.” Seed-starting times can also be estimated by using the number of days to maturity (also on the seed packet) and comparing that number to the number of days between your planting date and your average last frost date. This is an important step because seedlings that are kept too long perform poorly after they’re transplanted to the garden – if they even last that long. Radio show host Paul Parent also has a lot of helpful information in his recent Paul Parent Radio newsletter relating to seed starting times.
You’ll also need seed-starting mix, containers or a cell tray kit with soil pellets.
Sow any really small seeds by sprinkling on top of the planting mix and gently pressing in. Sow larger seeds 1 to 2 inches apart and about ⅛ to ¼ inches deep according to package instructions..
After filling containers with moistened seed-starting mix and trickling or misting water over the seeds, place in a south-facing window. Cellophane over containers creates warmth needed for germination and holds in the moisture. Once the plants have germinated, remove the plastic. Keep soil moist but not soggy.Seedlings need bright light after germination. If you don’t have a very bright south-facing window, you can buy a grow light or make your own using a grow light bulb in a clip-on fixture (14 hours a day, 2 to 4 inches above plants).
And finally, don’t forget to mark your seeds because some seedlings look quite similar. The Burpee cell try kit Maya and I use has a handy “Plant-O-Gram” chart that makes this easy.
For more detailed instructions on sowing seeds indoors, check out the Our Ohio website.
2. Grow Kits
Kits offer everything you need – soil, seeds and container. At our grocery store, Maya and I found “seed bombs” (herb, bird and butterfly and native perennials, $3.49); Eco Plant Pals (i.e. Basil Bob and Aloe Vera, $2.29) and themed kits for fairy gardens and carnivorous bogs ($6.99 to $17.49). You can also find an array of kids’ grow kits on Fat Brain Toys’ website.
3. The Lemon Tree experiment
Most of the seeds from grocery-store lemons won’t grow true to seed (although they will grow into a non fruit-bearing houseplant). I’ve heard Meyer lemons will, though, and we found them at our local grocery store. So we’re going to try sowing those indoors (removing the outer white and inner brown seed covering with a nail file without damaging the seed).
How have you gardened with kids indoors? Do you have any additional tips? Post a comment and let us know!