As a culture, we must pass along to our children those skills which will give them self supported sustainability. The most basic of skills any society must acquire is the ability to provide food. We celebrate here in America once per year, at Thanksgiving, that ability to provide for ourselves. The knowledge of how to grow the correct crops for the region was taught to the Pilgrims by Native American Indians. Parents and grandparents with knowledge, ability and skills should teach their children and grandchildren the ability to provide for themselves.
Teaching children how to grow food is a parental responsibility just as important as teaching discipline and respect. Don’t you agree?
How to Teach Children to Plant Garden Seeds for Growing Food
My favorite method of teaching is “Teach me, Show me, Watch me” First talk about it, then do a demonstration and finally step back and watch your student demonstrate.
Objective: Student should develop a basic working knowledge of how to properly plant seeds for growing food. This knowledge will include seed selection, containers for seed starting, how to plant the seeds and plant nourishment.
1. Plan What to Plant
Begin by discussing what types of food the child likes and will eat. We are talking about vegetable gardening. If the children respond with answers such as macaroni and cheese then break it down for them by telling them exactly which crops must be grown in order to create macaroni and cheese. Unless you are a farmer, you are not too likely to plant wheat in your backyard garden. You could also tell the children that the cheese begins with a dairy cow. After providing insight into why you won’t be growing macaroni and cheese in your backyard garden, get the children to name vegetables they will eat. You could go with the following vegetables which can be used to make spaghetti sauce.
Tomatoes, Onions, Peppers, Parsley, and Basil can all be successfully grown in your backyard garden. The herbs can actually be grown in a windowsill.
I am given to understand there are children out there somewhere who willingly eat green vegetables! If you have been blessed with those, enjoy the selection process!
2. Shop for Seeds and Soil
Most children love a field trip! You may purchase seeds at the local Dollar Store, Home Improvement Store or your local hardware. When teaching children, you will want them to learn how seeds are sold. For this reason, take them to your local hardware or feed & seed store which allows you to purchase seeds by the ounce or in prepackaging. We are teaching growing from seed, however now is a good time to take them to see the live plants which have been grown in greenhouses also. To avoid confusion, stick with the talking about only the plants you are about to grow. It would be fun to show them what their plant will look like once it has grown.
Go ahead and purchase the potting soil you intend to use while shopping for the seeds. I personally prefer Miracle Grow potting soil (this is NOT a sponsored post). You can discuss the nutrients required in the soil by simply showing them the ingredient list printed on the bag and talking about it. It is very important to take the time to teach the children that the soil type is essential to plant growth and healthy plants. If you just happen to have fantastic soil in your yard suitable for seed starting, by all means use that!
If you have been saving your seeds from season to season, you may like to teach the children how to do that. You will likely have to wait until harvest time for this actual lesson. While this is an excellent lesson on sustainability, it is still important for the children to learn how to shop for seeds.
3. Seed Starting Containers
You will have previously determined what type of containers you will be planting your seeds into with the children. This is a great opportunity to talk about Repurposing. In fact, in the days and weeks leading up to this lesson on seed planting for food growing, you should have been saving these containers and ‘talking up’ this lesson with the children. Plan in advance to make Faux Peat Pots.
Learn how to Repurpose Milk Jugs & 2 Liter Bottles for Winter Seed Sowing here. Also learn to make Faux Peat Pots here from newspaper and toilet paper rollers. Get the children to name other containers which can be repurposed for seed starting.
When teaching my grandchildren to plant seeds we repurposed an aluminum foil box to hold the Faux Peat Pots. It fits perfectly in a window sill for sunlight!
4. Plant the Seeds
Follow the instructions on the seed packaging for planting. This is a great opportunity to show the children how to use a ruler in an ordinary situation such as seed planting. Stress the importance of not planting too shallow or too deep.
5. Seed Nourishment
There are 3 Key factors to plant nourishment.
- Soil. The seeds are nourished by the type of soil they have been planted in.
- Water. They are also nourished by the water which will be essential to growth. Be sure to demonstrate watering with a gentle flow in the beginning so as not to dislodge the seed from the dirt. A water bottle is recommend until the seed has germinated.
- Sunlight. Sunlight is essential for plant growth. Some plants will require more sunlight than others for continued production during the growing season. You may talk about placing your seed container next to a window preferably facing east for many hours of daily sunlight.
6. Watch them grow!
It will be especially fun for your student when they see that tiny little sprout as it first pops out of the ground!
You may like to have your children create a Growth Journal so that they can get a better grasp on the time frame it takes for a seed to become a plant. Have them notate any growth activity every day. They may also enjoy making photos of the growth process.
7. What is next?
Talk about the next step in the process of growing food when you start your plant from seed, Transplanting. Introduce the concept of transplanting. Obviously this tiny little starter pot for the seed will not be where the plant grows large enough to produce the food we expect to harvest. Talk about container gardening and gardening in the ground. Get your student to begin thinking about a good outdoor location for their plants at their home. Refer back to the seed packet where it states the size the plant is expected to reach.
- What kind of vegetables do I want to grow?
- How are seeds sold and where do I purchase them?
- What type of soil do I need to plant my seeds in?
- Repurpose containers for seed starting.
- Plant the seeds.
- Nurture the seeds
- Watch them grow!
- Transplanting is next!
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