Gardening with Kids: Starting Flower Seeds

Geek Culture

Image: Brian Gillespe

Tonight’s big project was starting some flower seeds. While Mom was at class, the four mini-geeks and I set up on the dining room table and got to it.

First, we amassed our supplies. Foremost, and I guess the reason for all this, is the seeds. As high-quality seeds have started appearing in the grocery stores, they’ve become an impulse buy. We wound up with several packets of flower seeds this way.

Next are trays to start them in. I’m using peat trays. They came with plastic trays to hold the water and clear plastic tops so it acts as a tiny greenhouse. While not a renewable resource, the peat pots are undeniably more environmentally sound than plastic pots. As a bonus, when they’re ready to go in the ground, you can plant your seedlings pot and all without having to risk delicate roots. You can reuse the plastic parts with new peat pots next season. The seeds need something to grow in, so you need potting soil. Any potting soil will do; I don’t really have any strong opinions on the issue – just do not use soil you dug up from the yard. I wound up using a starter mix that was right next to the peat pots at the garden center.

Finally, are the tools for moving seeds and soil. Scissors for cutting open seed packets and a piece of paper to sort them on – those seeds can get small! Each kid got a small plastic Tupperware container and a teaspoon for managing their individual measure of potting mix.I filled the cells in the starter trays to around 1/2″ from the top. The plan from there was to give the kids the seeds for each cell in a little fold of paper. However, we had some coordination issues, so I went ahead and dropped most of the seeds in myself and let them do a few (under close supervision). They were very good at putting teaspoons of soil over the seeds. So the process turned into:

  1. Fill peat cells to about 1/2″ from the top.
  2. I would load the seeds while they made a mess with the potting mix.
  3. They would put a little more potting mix over the seeds, while simultaneously making a mess with the potting mix. Ideally, we’re going for about 1/4″ over the seeds, but try explaining that to a 3-year-old. One teaspoonful turned out to be about right.
  4. Repeat.
  5. Don’t tell Mom about the mess we made.

Image: Brian Gillespe

After we got all the seeds planted, we watered them in. Just keep water in the bottom tray and let the peat wick it up, and use a spray bottle to gently dampen the top layer of soil. We’ll spend the next few weeks watching the flowers grow and ensuring they get plenty of water and sunshine.

Really, don’t tell Mom about this mess.

Image: Brian Gillespe

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