Spring is finally upon us after a long, cold winter! Today at Simple Kids, we are celebrating with a fun, educational project to inspire you and your little ones to get your hands dirty in the garden – Egg Carton Gardening!
First, I have a confession to make. While I love fresh, homegrown vegetables as much as the next gal, my thumb errs on the side of black. My husband typically bears the gardening responsibilities of our home while I handle the cooking. However, this project is easy enough for a toddler to do. It’s a great introduction to gardening for kids and novice adults alike.
- Styrofoam Egg Carton (we like Styrofoam for its waterproof quality)
- Package of Seeds (we used pole beans)
- Organic Garden Soil
Purchase seeds that will be ‘in-season’ according to your particular climate and prepare according to package directions. (For example, we had to soak our bean seeds overnight in water.)
Retrieve a used egg carton from your recycling bin. Cut the top of the egg carton off and set aside. Turn the bottom of the carton upside down and poke holes in each “dome”, as this allows adequate water drainage. Then, place the top of the carton underneath, like a tray. Fill each of the domes with soil.
Have your child poke holes in the soil of each egg compartment – about 1/2 inch deep. Then have her place the seeds (one to three seeds in each compartment, depending upon the plant variety – see individual seed package for directions) in each hole. Gently cover seeds with soil, lightly water, and place in a sunny window sill. Make sure to place it in a location where your child can water and monitor its growth each and every day.
For children (and children at heart) seeking instant gratification, the sprouts appear in a matter of days. Once the seedlings are well established and weather permits, transfer directly into the outdoor garden soil and watch them flourish.
Photo by NurtureBaby
The day after…
A few days later….
About a week later…talk about instant gratification!
Egg Carton Gardening can be a wonderful learning experience that makes a long-lasting impression on your child. First, it teaches a simple lesson about conservation, as the otherwise trashed egg carton is repurposed for an entirely new use.
Second, your child is more likely to try (and like) the vegetables she’s grown. She feels invested in the project and therefore wants to reap the tasty rewards like the rest of the family. (To my delight, I found my three year old sneaking broccoli florets straight from the garden a few days ago!)
Last, it teaches your child patience and the value of hard work - all while creating fun, family memories. We hope it will inspire a lifelong love of gardening and healthy eating as your child begins to experience the wonderful fruits of her labor.
What ways do you inspire your children to help in the garden? We’ve love to see what you and your young green thumbs are up to. You can share pictures at the Simple Kids flickr group.
This post originally appeared in April 2010.