Sure, we have a over a foot of snow on the ground here in northern New England, but it’s still seed starting season! (If you’re wondering what seeds to start when or where, check out our resource When to Plant Seeds.) A few weeks ago, we dug out our grow light system, and started the first round of seeds for our community garden plot. (Seed starting for the first time? Read Susan’s blog post to get prepared.) This year, we made it a family activity, and included everyone who wanted to be included, however they wanted to be included.

seed starting with kidsThe grown-ups set up the grow light system, but the kids pretty much did the rest of it. We spread an old towel on the kitchen floor and plunked down to fill our trays with seed-starting mix. My 6-year old garden pixie walked into the kitchen just as I opened the mix and sighed, “Ah, I love the smell of soil.” 

indoor family garden activityThe kids had a lively discussion about who would get to plant which seeds. Luckily we were starting lots of different varieties of eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and flowers, so each kid got to pick their favorite packets.

We were starting seeds that were packed a few years ago, so we over-planted some of our seeds to ensure germination rates. (Looking for a garden lesson plan on germination? Check out Germination Exploration.) Also, the fine motor skills of 3-year olds lend themselves well to over-planting. Just don’t hesitate to thin your plants!

After we plugged in our lights and heat mats, and got our little trays all situated, the fun really began. The following morning, my 3-year old ran to the grow lights and reported back solemnly, “Dey not growed yet.”

seed starting with kidsBut we checked after school every day, watered the plants and the floor and the walls, wiped up lots of spills, and after just a few days, “dey growed!”

Whether under grow lights, or in the soil of a pot by the window or on the porch, there is nothing quite like the magic of watching a seed sprout.

Beth Saunders

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