When we think of gardening with children our mind often goes straight to planting in an outdoor veggie patch. But if we don't have an outdoor garden space or if the weather isn't favourable, there are still lots of wonderful indoor gardening options for children to enjoy.
Recently we've been growing Microgreens. Microgreens are the young seedlings of edible plants (we are growing basil, chives, and parsley) that are harvested shortly after germination when the stem, seedling leaves, and first set of true leaves have grown. Microgreens are a great option for homes and classrooms ❤️🌱.
The benefits of growing Microgreens include:
- can be grown in the smallest of homes and classrooms - they don't take up much space and can be moved around.
- can be grown all year round - regardless of the season. We are currently growing Microgreens in winter.
- don't require a lot of soil - as the plants don't grow very big, neither does the root system, so the seeds can be planted in a shallow container.
- are relatively clean - as they only need a small amount of soil, the children don't have to dig deep to plant the seeds and although the children may make a mess, it can generally be contained.
- are nutritious and edible - can go into a salad, on sandwiches, on top of crackers and dip, or top other dishes like pasta.
- children can observe the full plant lifecycle up close - as they are grown inside the children can easily observe the plant growth every day. The children can be involved from start (planting the seeds) to finish (eating the Microgreens). Older children can measure their growth and record the growth through drawings or photographs.
- they grow quickly - we see the plant begin to emerge in days and it usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to grow before harvesting.
- are easy to harvest - the children can harvest the microgreens themselves with a small pair of scissors. Often there is enough for all children to have a turn at harvesting.
- they are easy for young children to plant - unlike spacing seeds and planting rows in a traditional garden, Microgreens are planted in a layer sprinkled across the top of the soil, perfect for young children who may be overenthusiastic with their planting.
- affordable to grow - seeds are generally affordable and only a small container and a small amount of soil are required.
- suitable for children with varying ranges of mobility - children don't need access to a garden or the outdoors. Planting and caring for Microgreens is suitable for children inside and working at a table.
- easy to care for - they require watering and we need to expose them to indirect sunlight but there are generally easy to care for.
- help to develop fine motor skills - children can use their fine motor skills to plant the seeds and develop hand strength when using a mister or spray bottle to water the Microgreens, and to use scissors for harvesting.
We are using a Green Basics Grown Kit c/o Modern Teaching Aids, it has a shallow tray with good drainage, is light and easy to move around the home, and comes with a lid to increase humidity. The Green Basics Grow Kit is by Elho, it is made from recycled plastic and is produced using 100% wind energy.
"An atmosphere of love and respect for plants and animals in the home and classroom is the best foundation for a lifetime of comfort with, and interest in, nature. This begins in the home as the child absorbs the family's attitude toward gardens, houseplants, weeds, wild birds, and pets. Lessons that make a deep impression come from first hand experiences of plants and animals; nothing can substitute for seeing, and smelling flowers in the home, and watching the daily growth of a flower or vegetable in the garden or filling a bird feeder with a parent and watching which birds come to feed."
"This is the time to introduce gardening to children. Even one pot, inside or outside, with one plant, is better than nothing when there is no room for a large outside garden." - Child of the World: Montessori, Global Education for Age 3-12+.
Planting Microgreens is child friendly, there is no need to space the seeds out, perfect for children that might be a little overenthusiastic with their planting.
If the container has good drainage, we don't have to worry too much about over-watering.
Children can label their Microgreens (or write their name) to include a little literacy into the gardening experience.
Our planting container comes with a lid to increase humidity.
Microgreens grow fast, this is a fantastic school holiday or lockdown activity.
Don't worry if you don't have a mister, a mini spray bottle works just fine!
Children can get up close every day, no matter the weather, to observe the growth.
Then it's time to harvest 😍.
This is a fun way to use scissors.
Harvesting is so rewarding for the child.
We use our Microgreens in salads, in sandwiches, in quiche on top of dip on crackers, as a garnish on pasta and soups.
Our Microgreens smell fantastic too.
You can see more of our Kids Gardening Activities here.
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