There are so many reasons why kids love seed sowing: the Jack & the Beanstalk effect of planting a seed and seeing it magically turn into a plant, the outdoorsy-ness of the whole thing, the grown-up feeling such responsibility gives them, and of course the all-important getting grubby element.
We’ve been making the most of the weather during the last couple of weeks and have had a couple of brilliant seed sowing sessions – which got me thinking, why not share how we do it?
Sowing seeds with kids isn’t complicated, but there are a few things you can do which make the whole activity more fun, and also more successful in terms of actual plants at the end of it! Here are my tips for getting it right.
When it comes to gardening, kids have bags of enthusiasm but no patience. I’ve learned the hard way that getting them all fired up about getting outside and planting, before spending ages poking about in the shed for tools, plant pots and labels, is a recipe for disaster. Make sure you have all your kit ready to go before you tell them what you have planned – it’ll be more fun for them and you.
Work at their height
If at all possible, get yourself set up at a level that your kids can reach when standing up, this will make it much easier for them to use the tools and get soil and seeds in the right place. You don’t need a fancy potting station, but some sort of tray to catch all the soil is a good idea. I use my portable potting tray on our garden table; Lily has to stand on the step we use at the sink indoors which works fine.
Use child-sized tools
These don’t have to be purpose-built for children, but actually the ones aimed at kids are often the cheapest. A trowel and a fork that they can handle easily are all you need. Children’s gardening gloves are great too, particularly if you’re working with really damp soil – although in my experience for the actual seed sowing you need bare hands to get seeds in the right spot.
Use the activity as a learning opportunity
By this I don’t mean launching into a long, drawn-out explanation of germination and photosynthesis, but do use your time sowing as a chance to explain a bit about the things that plants need to grow, and why you’re doing things the way you are. I’m always blown away by just how absorbed my kids get in this kind of thing. There’s also something rather lovely about standing next to each other, absorbed in the task, but also chatting and learning at the same time.
Let them do it themselves
Now this is one that I’m not naturally very good at. I have to restrain my inner control freak and remind myself that it’s just no fun having someone tell you what to do, then take over from you when you do it a bit differently to how they expected. A good way to handle the urge to control is to show them how to do it, then ask them to show you. You get to explain what to do, they get to show you how well they can do it, while still feeling like they’re in charge.
Expect things to get messy
I can’t plant seeds without making a mess, so it’s no wonder my kids can’t either! There is bound to be spilled soil, seeds sown thickly in places and thinly in others, and hard-to-read plant labels. Be ready for this and promise yourself you won’t get grumpy – it’s about spending fun family time together, not perfection.
Hopefully these tips will help make seed sowing with kids a big success, and with Spring firmly here to stay now is the perfect time to have a go. If you need some ideas on which seeds to sow, take a look at my post on top seeds to grow with kids. Have fun!