Teaching Kids Gardening – Projects to get started for free!

Gardening is a great skill to possess and if nurtured, could turn into a fantastic hobby for you to share with your children that help them build skills to last them a lifetime. 

There are also great STEM education possibilities that come with teaching about germination, pollination, engineering, construction, and research that goes into plants and the many ways to grow them efficiently and effectively.

Not only can you use this as a reason to get your kids outside more, but teaching them to grow beautiful plants and delicious crops in your house or backyard can improve their health even further by supplying a constructive emotional outlet and a replenishable source of healthy food that they contribute to themselves daily!

There are so many different ways and reasons to help kids learn the essential life skills of gardening and farming at any age, so here are a few beginner activities I have picked up through my years of teaching kids gardening to get you started on the right foot with next to no cost at all.

Hey there, my name is Jerromy and I am all about that homeschooling life!

I was homeschooled on a farm and I do my best to apply the same values I was brought up with as I teach my own children at home to this very day.

My main goal is to help other homeschooling parents make educated decisions about their kids’ schooling by providing resources and information to help them avoid the mistakes I have made on my journey homeschooling my kids.

If you are new to homeschooling, check out my article on how to get started the easy way.

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Teaching Kids Gardening: Projects for any budget

Growing plants is rather intuitive, and most seed or plant suppliers can give you the specifics about the plants you intend to purchase. If you have never grown anything yourself, you are in for a treat! 

Dirt, water, and some sunlight is all you need and can be found free almost everywhere, meaning there is nothing to it but to do it, and anyone can learn how! Figuring out the specifics of each plant isn’t important for now, but once you find something your bunch likes to grow you can definitely dive into the science and preferences of each individual plant to produce them more efficiently.

The best place to start learning is with a few seeds, some dirt, and a splash of water.

Start Some Seedlings: 

Getting seeds sprouted is one of the more hands-on tasks in gardening and requires a little preparation and consideration to see the best results. Kids love this part because they get to witness the plant essentially come to life in just a few short days.

some plants sprouting

If you don’t have a garden plot available, starting the seeds in a controlled environment first will allow you to select the sprouts you want to keep and avoid the risk of duds if you were to simply plant them in their forever locations from the start.

if you do, just plant the seeds according to the instructions on the packet for optimal results. 

What you will need:

1. Containers

There are seed starting trays you can purchase that have substrate included, but if you are trying to limit spending you can literally use anything you have around the house, like:

  • Ice trays
  • Styrofoam or plastic cups
  • Spaghetti stained plastic containers
  • Disposable aluminum pans with lids from the dollar store work great!

As long as it holds soil and allows for drainage it will be perfect, so poke a few extra holes in the bottom of your containers to allow excess water to run off to avoid over-watering your seedlings.

2. Substrate

This can be anything that provides an optimal growing medium for nutrients to reach the roots and hold the plant in place

The best options are:

  • Loamy Soil sourced naturally
  • Potting soil with added nutrients 
  • Leaf heavy mulch
  • Peat moss
  • Gravel
  • Etc.

Loam is the best option as it is soil rich in nutrients and is made up of a relatively even mixture of sand, clay, and humus which is basically leaf mulch. This type of soil generally provides a great growing medium for almost any type of plant, so until you work out the specifics of the things your family likes to grow, this is a great choice that will be up to any task.

3. Seeds

There is no wrong answer here, so just ask the kids what they want to grow! 

NOTE: some plants may need to be kept indoors if the season or climate doesn’t call for them, and for crops you should at least try to follow the directions on the seed packets regarding seasons and planting conditions if applicable.

My advice would be to start with seasonal crops, simply so you can walk them through the entire process of growing their own food. However, there are many benefits to growing herbs, or decorative plants as well so the sky is the limit! 

Easy plants to start with:

  • Wild Flowers
  • Herbs
  • Potatoes
  • Bell Peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Peas or beans

Most of these can be sourced from your local grocery store or hardware store during planting seasons.

Specific potato eyes might be a little harder to get your hands on so check feed stores and farmer’s markets until you find the desired type if this is something you want to pursue.

How the kids can help:

Your children can do most of this on their own so just focus on providing the resources and guiding them toward the end result: having seeds covered with dirt in an environment productive to their growth.

Make sure there is about 3 inches of dirt and the container has access to direct sunlight and you are good to go!

I like to put a good layer of soil down and just sprinkle the seeds generously so the kids can poke them about halfway into the dirt with a pencil, and they have a blast!

 If there is some form of the lid and the temperature is high enough, you can get away with only watering the seeds when they go into the dirt as condensation will build and automatically re-water the soil pretty much until the time the sprouts need to be moved to bigger containers. If not, just make sure the substrate stays moist and if it starts to crack let the kids spray it with a squirt bottle.

They will spill stuff and it is likely to be chaotic the first few times, but that’s half the fun so let them enjoy it!

When the seedlings start to outgrow their starter containers, have your kids transplant them into the garden or into their permanent planters, and be sure they maintain them regularly to see the best results. 

Pulling weeds and tending the plants will take maybe half an hour depending on the volume you are planning to grow, and makes for a great excuse to get them outside and reconnecting with nature daily and it won’t be long until you all have a beautiful flower garden, harvest-ready crops, or a mixture of both!

Regrow Your Scraps:

Oftentimes, you wil
l have great candidates for your garden left
 over after a homecooked meal, or even something that was left forgotten in the back of a refrigerator drawer.

a bunch of vegetable scraps to be used in teaching kids garden projects

Instead of just throwing it all away, consider re-growing some of it, and using the rest for a compost to add more nutrients to your existing garden to teach recycling and the science of nature in real time

What you will need:

1. Selective Vegetable or Fruit Scraps

Some of the products you may already have in the fridge can be turned into new crops as well, so keep that in mind the next time you are grocery shopping.

A few groceries that can be regrown:

  • Green onions
  • Garlic
  • Strawberries

Not all of these will reproduce every time though, and in some cases, they will grow a plant that doesn’t produce fruit, so if you can find a local farmers market there is sure to be someone there that can help you find a good heirloom crop to process for seeds, saving you even more money in the long run!

2. Clear containers with paper towel substrate

Anything will do, but my family likes to use clear plastic cups filled loosely with paper towels for moisture retention, so we can watch the regrowth take place in a controlled environment.

Your regrown harvest wont stay in these cups for long, but if left unattended can lead to unwelcome aroma and pestilence of insects so if you plan on doing most of this indoors, make sure you don’t forget about it!

How the kids can help recycle scrap plants:

There may be some cutting involved, but after that, there is really nothing to it!

Have them gather the scraps you intend to regrow and prepare specific containers depending on the crop:

1. Green onions: you can place them in a cup of water leaving about an inch of the white stem sticking above the water level. In a few days, the roots will start to grow around the bottom of the cup, and the greens will start to regrow from the center of the stalk. After two – three inches of regrowth, they are ready to be planted in your plot or a planter!

2. Garlic: simply peel the outer layers of skin off an entire bulb of garlic until you can start to separate the cloves, but leave them attached to the root at the bottom of the bulb as much as possible. 

Push two skewers through the loosened cloves of garlic until they are no longer easy to remove and can support the bulb. Rest the skewers on the edges of the container so the cluster can touch the water but not be entirely submerged. 

In a few days, the roots will start to grow deeper into the water and all healthy cloves will start to produce green chutes. Once these chutes are close to four inches long, you can begin to carefully separate the cloves and plant each one individually, or plant the entire cluster.

3. Strawberries: All you need are the seeds, so you can remove them all individually or just cut off the red parts of the fruit and place them onto a wet paper towel inside of a container. DO NOT SUBMERGE.

They will start on their own if the paper towel stays moist, and once the sprouts start to separate into leaves or branches, they are ready to be placed directly on the soil in a more permanent location. When you do this, simply place them on the soil and cover them with a dusting of the substrate; just enough to secure them in place and if possible, leave a little of the green exposed to absorb sunlight.

Continuing Kids Gardening Projects:

Not only will your children have a blast, you will get to spend more time with them doing something constructive to everyone’s health!

Kids of any age can discover so much about science, engineering, and technology the deeper you move into gardening and farming, and there really is no limit to how far you can take it. I can even say that gardening can be a substantial part of a homeschoolers curriculum if enough time is spent researching and learning new things about the trade.

Once you and your family get the hang of it and start to generate produce at an efficient rate, you can even start a little family side hustle selling your harvest at the farmers market or on social media! This would be a great way to fund homeschooling efforts, or even start a savings account to help pay for college or buy their first car! 

Just keep the motivation going by introducing new ideas when your students hit a standstill or need direction on steps to take next. There are a lot of resources out there on how to maximize your efforts, so have them do some research as well and possibly even teach them how to create a report or datasheet about each type of plant or crop for future reference!

Learning opportunities are all around us, and by taking small steps in the right direction, you may awaken a passion in your children that sets them on the path to finding their own success in life.

There is no better satisfaction in life than being able to feed yourself and your family; plus cutting your grocery bill down is never a bad thing, so have fun with teaching kids gardening and help them learn how to grow everything they can!

For now, I bid you farewell, but know that I am here to help you on your path to home education, and I encourage you to reach out if you have any questions or just want to chit-chat about homeschooling stuff; Just comment on one of my posts, and I will respond ASAP! 

Have a great day!

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