Friday, May 15, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Now that I have finished posting my backlog of posts from our weather unit, I'm excited to share with you what we've been doing recently...getting our hands dirty with gardening!

The weather where we live is just now getting warm enough for us to plant outside, but we've done several fun indoor projects that have us itching to get the outdoor garden going.

•We began our unit with a trip to Home Depot to pick out lots of seeds. Each child chose a few. We came home with packets of seeds to grow green beans, pumpkins, cherry tomatoes, radishes, carrots, spinach, and several others that I can't remember. We started these in a tray filled with moistened peat pellets. (These are always fun to watch swell up and expand when you add water to them.)

Most of our seeds sprouted fairly quickly (green beans and pumpkins), others took several days, and a few didn't sprout at all (broccoli and spinach). This weekend we'll be transplanting these to our container vegetable garden out on the back patio. (Each child has a very large rectangular container which will be their very own vegetable garden.)

We read The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons and Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Lenski to go along with starting our veggie seedlings.

•For our next indoor project we read How a Seed Grows by Jordan and Krupinksi (Let's Read and Find out Science Stage 1), which gives great introductory info. on seeds and describes the sprouting of a bean in a ziploc bag. (I am always amazed at how even my 3-yr. old enjoys these Let's Read and Find Out Science books. The pictures are great and help to hold her interest.)

We then started our own "beans-in-baggies". You drop a couple of beans into a ziploc bag with a folded wet paper towel, and tape to a sunny window. I didn't take many pictures because shortly after we started this experiment, I came down with pneumonia, but we did enjoy seeing the beans sprout and grow stems and leaves.

•While re-organizing our homeschool closet, I came across a Root-Vue Farm Kit that I'd completely forgotten about. This is a really neat science kit that allows you to plant several seeds and then observe (through a plastic window) their roots and sprouts developing over the next few weeks. We planted carrots, radishes, and gourds. The radishes sprouted within a couple of days, the carrots took maybe 5 days, and the gourds were a bust.

The kit came with several large dirt/peat pellets that we added water to and then mixed until it was the right consistency.

Filling the growing container with the dirt mixture. Getting it behind the plastic window was a bit tricky (read messy), but hey, what gardening project isn't a little bit messy?

•This next project has probably been our favorite...making grassheads! My favorite set of directions that I found for these cute little guys came from Family Fun's site. You'll see there that you can also decorate the heads with faces and clothing, which is on our to-do list. (One thing we did differently from the directions was to add a bit of spaghnum moss to the potting soil in the pantyhose. I did this because all of the other grasshead directions I found suggested using spaghnum moss or sawdust instead of potting soil.)

We started these about ten days ago, and it took several days for the grass seed to begin sprouting, so this was a big patience builder for all of us.

These are our grassheads approximately ten days after "planting" them. Kurt says we've got some male pattern baldness going on, but hopefully we'll start seeing more grass on the tops soon. :)

The thing I love most about these gardening projects is that everyone has excitedly checked on the progress of their seeds and plants each day. We've had a couple of disappointments when certain things didn't sprout or thrive, but those disappointments have provided opportunities for problem-solving and perserverance.

I hope the weather will be nice in your area this weekend so that you can enjoy some time outdoors with your family. (And if you and your children happen to plant something together, I would enjoy hearing about it!)

Happy Friday!


  1. Thanks for sharing all the pictures and tips. we are starting our seeds this next week. Thanks for the site you mention, I already went and bookmarked it. I can't wait to do all sorts of fun summer projects.

  2. What a great unit Shannon!! I love the grass heads. We have never done that- I am going to have to plan to do it soon with the kids. We too love the Let's Read and Find Out Science Books!

  3. How fun! I love all the great ideas...especially the individual container gardens! I wish I'd thought of that last year when I tried my hand at container gardening. I bet my kids would have enjoyed having their own "gardens" to tend.

  4. We are doing some gardening, too. Hope your gardens do well! That root-vue kit looks very cool!

  5. Thank you for sharing. Your pictures are great. Do you have a curriculum you use or do you just follow your kids interests?
    Just wondered as I'm looking for ideas for my kiddos.

  6. How fun! I love this sort of thing! ♥

  7. Those are really nice projects!
    My kids have been doing a lot of planting and gardening as well. I'll bet my youngest would like to do a grasshead. Thanks for the idea!

  8. Your homeschool is so fun! You are without a doubt making the most of these early years with your children. I love that! You will NEVER regret the investment.

    Thanks so much for visiting my new blog.


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