“Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?”
Watch the Seeds Grow – roots, stalk & leaves!
This is a brilliant way to actually watch seeds sprout & grow roots. The pots are free as you can use empty plastic bottles &, apart from cutting the bottles to size, your child can do everything else with you.
WHAT YOU NEED:
- Runner bean, broad bean &/or pea seeds;
- Empty plastic bottles;
- Craft knife &/or scissors;
- Kitchen roll;
You need to decide how many ‘see-through’ planters you are making & will need 2 or 3 seeds for each.
Wash out then swill your empty plastic bottle with clean water
Taking great care use scissors or a craft knife & cut off the top third of the bottle.
The bottom part of the bottle makes your see-through planter – make as many as you want. We made 4 planters with 3 seeds to each.
HOW TO PLANT:
- Fill the planter with damp kitchen roll about ⅔ up.
- Place a seed between the planter’s side & the kitchen roll about half way up.
- Repeat this ensuring the seeds are well spaced in each planter to allow for growth. We put runner beans in 2 pots & peas in the other 2 pots.
- Make sure the kitchen roll is damp with just a very small amount of water in the bottom of the planter.
We put our planters in a window sill & topped up the water each day with Sophie’s help – it’s really important to keep the paper damp. Also it reminded her that ‘something’ was going on!
It will take a few days before the seeds start to germinate. Once the seeds start to sprout roots, stalks & leaves your child’s interest should really pick up. Sophie was fascinated.
Once the seedlings are growing well you can carefully plant them outside in large pots or straight into the garden if you wish (check it’s the right time of year – read the seed packet info.).
Check & water plants each day & talk about how much taller they are growing. Point out when the plants start to flower & the pods begin to grow.
When ready it will be great to pick the beans/peas. What could be better than to get your child to help prepare the beans/peas they’ve grown for cooking & then eating them with their dinner?
You could also …
We made pots from drink cartons by cutting the cartons in half & using the bottom part as the pot. After washing them thoroughly we made small holes in the bottom for drainage, filled with compost & planted pea/runner bean & sunflower seeds. They also grew really well & were all planted outside in the garden .
A quick & easy planting activity to set up & only a few days wait until the carrots start growing new greenery!
- Kitchen roll or cotton wool;
- Small plastic container or old saucer/dish
Cut the tops off a few fresh carrots (our carrots had been stored in the fridge, but the tops still grew!)
- With your little one place some wet kitchen roll or cotton wool into a small plastic container. Put the carrot tops in.
- Each day make sure to keep the paper/cotton wool moist, but don’t overfill.
- Wait a few days & you should see the tops begin to sprout & then grow taller
This is a fun & practical activity, if a little messy. It helps little ones to follow instructions, learn about plants’ needs & can give the additional sensory experiences of smell, touch & taste.
WHAT YOU NEED:
- Different herb plants – we used lavender, lime mint, oregano & marjoram from the local Garden Centre
- Larger/patio pots for transplanting separately or together to make a herb garden
- Suitable compost
- Trowel or similar to transfer compost. Sophie used her child-sized garden tools set (& insisted on using her gardening gloves despite them being way too big!)
- With your little one partially fill pots with compost (we also put some pieces of broken terracotta pot in the base to help with drainage before adding compost)
- Gently transfer each herb plant to the pot & fill around with more compost carefully pressing around plant so there are no gaps. Ensure pot is filled to 1 to 2 cm below the rim (don’t overfill) & that the plant is stable
- When finished water the plants well
If all goes to plan you can use some of the herbs in your little one’s meal e.g. we prepared a simple pizza after picking some of our herbs with Sophie. We gave the leaves a good wash, carefully chopped the leaves with a plastic knife & then added them to the topping. Yum!!!
What are you helping your little one to do?
- Begin to understand action & “doing” words
- Talk about what they can see when outside
- Begin to notice changes in things
- Know that I can use tools to do different things
Safety note: herbs, peas, beans etc. are obviously edible & safe for your child to help you grow, pick & eat. However we constantly reinforced with Sophie that she could only smell, touch or pick plants if we said it was okay. She was closely supervised all the time, particularly in the garden centre, where there were many ‘pretty’, but potentially hazardous plants. We also ensured she had her hands thoroughly washed after each planting activity.