Spring has officially sprung. The cold days of winter are hopefully behind us, and with spring comes the promise of warmer weather and new growth. Why not take this opportunity to teach your young children how to plant and care for an herb garden?
Herbs are not only beautiful, coming in a variety of shapes and colors, but they are pretty easy to grow, which makes them ideal for keeping young children from becoming discouraged. Don’t worry if you have limited space outdoors or if the weather isn’t conducive yet to prolonged outdoor activity. All you need is a windowsill that receives plenty of sunlight.
This fun project for indoor herb-gardening with kids can introduce your child to gardening from the comfort of your home.
What You’ll Need
- A sunny windowsill
- Containers for the plants, such as bowls or small plant pots
- Paint, to decorate the containers if desired
- Compost (a small bag), available at nurseries and garden centers
- Herb seeds and/or plant seeds, available at nurseries and garden centers
- Container for watering (watering can or simply a cup, glass, water bottle or water jug)
- Popsicle sticks
- Marker pen
1. Select your herbs.
Basil, cilantro, dill, oregano, rosemary, sage and parsley are ideal for growing indoors. Think about the food that your family enjoys and which herbs you would likely use. Your child will likely be more excited about creating a garden when actually able to taste the “fruits” of his or her labor. You can grow your herbs from a seed or you can purchase them as a small plant, or plug and repot them in your garden.
Ask for help at a local nursery or garden center if you’re unsure which to choose.
2. Select and prepare your containers.
If you and your child decide to plant different kinds of herbs, try separating each plant in order to avoid competition for water and nutrients. Make sure that your containers have drainage holes at the bottom. Your containers could be anything from empty juice boxes and egg cartons to small clay pots (the better to enable the roots to breathe) or plastic pots – the possibilities are endless.
Let your child use the paint to decorate the containers in whatever way he or she wishes. Let dry.
3. Add compost to the containers.
Help your child fill the containers to about one-inch from the top with the compost (high-nutrient mixture), rather than with ordinary soil from outdoors. Add water to the container and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Make labels for your herbs.
While you are waiting for the water to soak into the soil, use the Popsicle sticks and marker pen to make labels for your herbs. This will help you to remember which herbs you plant and where.
5. Plant your herbs.
Follow the directions on the package for planting the herbs. Different kinds of herbs, and whether you plant seeds or repot a small plant, will determine the best way for planting your garden.
6. Water your garden.
Add a little water to the soil after you’ve planted your herbs. Teach your child to water the garden enough to keep the soil moist but never soggy. Many herbs can be sensitive to overwatering. The Herb Society recommends checking the moisture by pressing your finger into the top inch of soil. If the soil feels wet, don’t water. If the soil is dry, add water until any excess drains from the bottom. Never let the containers stand in water, and check regularly to see if it’s time to water again.
Now watch your garden grow!