Start Sprouting

wildflowers.jpgThis past weekend when Laurel and I hit the hardware store to pick up some final flood cleanup supplies, she immediately headed for the seed racks. Though we lack the garden space of our previous residence to grow veggies (tragic, but we're instead eagerly awaiting the start of our CSA), I couldn't resist the opportunity to engage in a fun nature project with her. Here are some simple tips to start sprouting with your kids, even if you're lacking a garden plot:
Take inventory of your pots. Before you set out, take inventory of your pot collection so you don't waste money on new pots if you already have empty ones at home. And don't discount old and grungy pots; your child can always give old pots new life to adorable effect. We used two window boxes and one very large pot for our project.

Pick your flower seeds. I'm by no means an experienced gardener, so I rely on packet descriptions and present Laurel with options that indicate that the seeds are quick and easy to grow, hearty, and/or require little care. We decided on nasturtium (tall single mix), which are hearty, quick growing (10-14 days), and produce a wide range of brightly colored flowers (the web description also indicates that the flowers may be used in salad - fabulous!). We also chose wildflowers (Northeast mix), which require little care and include a mix of annuals and perennials so they'll reseed next year.

Don't forget dirt. We haven't yet had a chance to dig out the rewards from our urban composter so we picked up a couple of bags of Miracle-Gro organic potting mix, which we selected because of its organic composition and the fact that the fertilizer provides quick and slow release feeding for up to two months.

Get gardening. I set Laurel up on our patio with the pots, dirt, seed packets, her little shovel, and a watering can. Just as in her toddler days she had a great time scooping and dumping the dirt, then spreading the seeds and watering them. She planted the wildflowers in a large round pot that will sit on our patio and the nasturtium in two window boxes that we're planning on setting along a fence once they start climbing.

And that's it! The project was simple but offered a lovely means to be outside and talk about the life cycle. And each morning since, Laurel has eagerly checked to see if any sprouts are popping up yet. It will be fun to watch the flowers grow.

Are you growing anything this year? What flowers or veggies are you planting? Feel free to comment in below if you have any surefire favorites to share.

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Final notes:

1. These plant pots would make a fantastic gift for a loved one. Follow the steps above and simply tie a ribbon around the pot and attach a sweet note. The recipient no doubt will have fun watching the flowers grow and thinking about the little sprout who planted the seeds for them.

2. If you need more formal gardening guidance, check out Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! -- a lovely gardening guide by local author Kim Smith.