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7 Tips for Growing Seedlings with Kids

Do you garden with your kids? Gardening is a great way to teach kids so many life lessons. Read on for tips to have fun growing seedlings with kids.

The third time is the charm, right?! I’m really hoping this mantra holds true for our garden this year. 

For the last two years, we’ve started plants from seeds to grow our vegetable garden. And for two years, we’ve had dismal results. We’ve planted seeds too late. We’ve not given them enough sun and had long, leggy seedlings that didn’t last more than two days in the garden. I even dropped two entire trays of seedlings all over our back patio last spring. 

Needless-to-say, I’ve made a lot of mistakes when starting our garden. And each has resulted in picking up a bunch of starter plants from our local garden shop to plant in our garden. Our back up plan to purchase starter plants instead of growing our own has worked out quite well. After last year’s second failed attempt, I was convinced I was done growing from seeds. 

Despite my best efforts, the urge to grow from seeds sprung again this year, and we gave it a third shot. In just a couple of weeks, we failed again. This time, however, I did a little more digging around to figure out what we were doing wrong. It turns out we’ve made a handful of mistakes along the way (shocking…), but our biggest faux pas was not giving the little seeds enough sun. 

The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year is that the little buggers need a lot of sun. And rapid growth is usually NOT a sign of good health. Seedlings grow too quickly, stretching for sunlight, when they aren’t getting enough of its lovely rays. 

Not to be deterred from my goal, we tried one last time to grow seeds this year. So far (fingers crossed I’m not jinxing anything), our attempts have been much more fruitful. We are three weeks into the second set of seedlings for this spring, and they are short but strong and a healthy green with sturdy little leaves. I think we’re on to something now that I diligently move the seedlings outside each morning and bring them back inside each evening to ensure they get plenty of spring sunshine. 

My favorite part about growing seedlings is making it a family project. I love gardening with my kids when they are game for the project. Over the years, my younger son consistently shows more interest in the garden than my older son, but they each help out on occasion. 

7 Tips for Growing Seedlings with Kids

To keep the boys engaged in seed growth and gardening, I’ve gathered up a few tips that might be useful for you if you’re gardening with kids. 

Grow What Interests Them

Let the kids lead in the garden and decide what they want to grow, within reason of course. Although you may create an initially limited population of parent-approved plants, give them a choice and let them feel like they had some say is what they will spend their summer caring for.

Grow What They’ll Eat

This is pretty obvious and probably applies to adult gardens as well. Grow what you will actually eat. Of course, it’s fun to grab one or two new things to try each season, but the kids will be much more interested if they can look forward to cooking and eating the fruits of their labor.

Grow Things That Attract Butterflies and Bugs

Most kids love bugs and butterflies. Choose at least some plants that will attract animals and insects to your garden. Not only will it make the garden a more exciting place for the youngsters, but it’s also great for the health and biodiversity in your garden as well as the ecosystem and our planet. Check out this little perennial pollinator garden my son created that is already returning to life this spring.

Get A Watering Can For Thier Little Hands

Watering seedlings is kind of a big deal. Too little water and the sweet seeds shrivel up and die. Overwater and you’ll drown the little things. Too much water all at once and the seeds will wash away with the puddles. Find a watering can or watering tool that is small enough for little hands and has a nice slow pouring spout.

Track Growth and Make It a Science Experiment

Make seedling growth a science experiment. Track growth, measure height, compare leaves, identify similarities and differences, and practice all sorts of other STEM skills while gardening with kids. If your kid gardeners are a little older, they can even practice developing hypotheses, documenting observations, and learning about plants, life cycles, soil, and ecosystems.

Keep The Seedlings In Sight

Out of sight, out of mind couldn’t be more true than for kids. Keep seedlings where your family spends a lot of time so neither you nor the kids forget about them. What’s the fun of growing seedlings if you don’t take care of them? Further, seedlings are sensitive babies and need a lot of love. Without plenty of water, sun, and TLC, the seedlings are sure to shrivel to bits.

Let Them Grow and Let It Go

Lastly, and this is the most important tip, keep it fun and stress-free. Don’t get worked up if the kids over-water or mess up the seedlings. Give kids their own sheet of seedlings. If you have some important seedlings that can’t succumb to the fate of little hands, keep those in a separate section of your growing area. 

Gardening is about learning, exploring, and making mistakes. No one perfects a hobby or skill after a single execution. Expect mistakes. Expect dead seedlings. Just know that growing seedlings and gardening with kids is more about the process than the final product. It is especially about the quality time and relationships you build with kids while nurturing new life together.

Have you planted seedlings with kids or started a garden with your children? If so, what tips do you have that have worked well for you and yours? I’d love to hear all of your suggestions, tips, and tricks for successful seedlings and a little garden with the kids in your life. 

Happy gardening!

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