Little egg carton gardens!
I usually write about art projects, but today I want to share my favorite activity that we have done this school year, and it's a gardening project. To me gardening is an art. There are lots of different elements that go into a garden, but just like art, the most important part of gardening is the process! We learn so much through the process and every season our garden gets a little better!
We live in San Diego where it's always a good time to grow food. Things that typically grow only in the spring and summer in other climates grow year-round here. If you are looking for a fun, easy and valuable activity for your kids to do here it is! Little egg carton gardens!
We planted these tiny gardens a few weeks ago and are still watching them grow. The best part about this activity is that it is ongoing and requires continued care and monitoring. Kids will learn about the life cycle of a plant during the process.
I started this activity by gathering all the supplies I would need. You will need egg cartons (one per kid, the cardboard kind), potting soil, a variety of seed packets, a large container to contain the mess, popsicle sticks and a sharpie for labeling plants, and a watering can.
The day of the activity I set out all the supplies and started by having the kids pick their seeds. You can find seed packets at your local garden store, or buy a multi-pack on amazon. I have first graders in my pod, so I explained how the seeds all grow at different paces, and showed them how they can read the back of the packets to find out which ones grow the fastest along with other important information about their seeds. I let them pick their seeds and allowed them to pick more than one, but they had to keep track of where they were planting them and label them.
Each child got their own egg carton. I had them each put dirt in their egg carton, pack it down a bit, then make a hole to the bottom with their finger. Then they placed one seed in each hole and covered it with dirt. Afterwards they labeled their seeds using a popsicle stick and sharpie and stuck it where it needed to go. They took turns watering their own seeds.
We planted these during a hot, sunny week in the fall. The next week we already had some sunflowers growing! The kids happily water the plants when they are dry. Each week they love looking to see how big their garden is growing!
Some seeds didn't grow, some took three weeks to grow. I learned that old seeds might not grow, especially if the package has been opened and not stored properly. After doing this activity I came up with a better storage system for all of my unused seeds! I am keeping them in sealed containers in a cool, dry place in my house. We all learned from this process!
I've been gardening at my home for the past 6 years, but this will be the first year I started my plants from seed. There is something so rewarding about being able to grow your own plants from seeds!
Our garden is located in the front of our house. Having a garden in the front of our house is fun, because people walking by often stop to chat. Plus it gives my kids a whole other area to play and explore in.
If you have a picky eater sometimes getting them into the garden, helping and seeing where things come from will get them to try new things! Cucumbers, sugar snap peas, raspberries and pomegranates are my kids favorite things to eat straight from our garden!
For me gardening is a constant learning process. I probably should read books on it, but I don't really have time for that, so we just experiment a lot, and sometimes I use google when we have pests or problems! Like why didn't our carrots grow big and straight??!
After starting my own garden (and living through a pandemic) I now see landscaping in a whole different way. What if everyone surrounded their house with plants that produced food? Instead of planting bushes, vines and trees that don't produce anything, consider planting a raspberry bush, grape vine or lemon tree. Crops that produce fruit need pollination in order to produce fruit, so think about planting Lavender and African Blue Basil to bring in the bees!
If you go to your local garden store they will sell plants that typically do well in your climate. Take a look around, you might be surprised by all the fun options!
We love to share our little harvest! When we have lots of veggies we put our extras out on the street to share with neighbors. One time we even set up a small farm stand to sell our produce and flowers, similar to a lemonade stand.
There is so much fun that comes from our garden, it is a constant learning experience and best of all it provides fresh fruits and veggies for my family year-round!