How Does Your Garden Grow?

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What could be more appealing for young children than an opportunity to play in the dirt, to be creative and to watch things grow? Gardening with young children can be both fun and educational. Whether you are interested in planting a large vegetable garden or simply having a few potted plants on the window ledge, these ideas should get you started.

Learning about Plants: Small simple garden projects that can be done indoors.

Changing Colors

Fill a clear glass with water and add enough food coloring to turn the water in each glass a different color. Cut the stem of each plant and place it in the glass. See how long it takes for the plant to turn the color of the water. Queen Anne's Lace or celery work well for this activity.

Pressed Flowers

There are two basic ways of pressing and preserving flowers. The first method is to use weight. You can gently wrap the blossoms in between layers of newspaper or waxed paper and press them with a heavy weight. Under wooden blocks or between the pages of a large reference book are two popular places. The second method is to dry flowers head down in 2 parts cornmeal and 1 part borax.

Sprouting in a Bag

Moisten paper towel with very clean hands and slide into zip lock bag. Add seeds and seal. Keep towel damp and place bag in a sunny spot.

Sponge Lawns

Simply moisten a sponge and sprinkle with grass seed. You may wish to place sponges on a dish or tray because you need to keep the sponge wet. For extra fun cut the sponge into different shapes.

Gardens Big and Small

Tips for window sills and container gardens

You can use a variety of small containers other than traditional pots. Try dixie cups, milk cartons or empty juice cans next time. If you don't have a sunny window, consider grow lights. Be sure to keep the pots damp and warm for sucessful sprouting. Use quality potting soil.

Tips for Outdoor Gardens

Allow children to be involved with preparing the beds and weeding as well as with the planting and harvesting. A general rule of thumb is to plant seeds three times as deep as the seed is wide, be sure to follow seed packet instructions. Carefully select plants that are hardy and grow fairly quickly. I have had good results with sunflowers, radishes, green beans and marigolds. Consult a growing guide for reccommended plants in your geographic region.