Indoor Gardening Projects For Children
There are some fascinating indoor gardening projects for children to try at this time of year. When weather conditions often limit playing activities to the home, indoor gardening projects become exciting, educational pastimes, if easy-to-grow, fast-growing plants or seeds are used as beginning projects.
One of the all-time favorites in established plants for children to grow is the cactus. This plant thrives on limited care in the home. Yet, the continual growth and attractive flowers make it an exciting plant for children to grow.
The coleus plant, with its bright-colored foliage, is another popular plant for children to grow from established plants.
One of the most fascinating bulbs to start as a winter indoor project is the hyacinth bulb. Use a hyacinth glass or any plastic or glass container with a narrow top opening. Rest the bulb on the opening then fill water to within about one fourth to one-eighth inch below the bulb. Within a short time the roots will develop in the water and top growth and flowers will appear. With this project, the child is able to observe the roots and the top growth right up to flowering time. As a bonus, the flowers are bright and fragrant making them especially noticeable. Many varieties of hyacinths, tulips and daffodil bulbs may be started in soil, in pots.
Some of the seeds that may be started in pots for quick growth are radishes, nasturtiums, beans, peas, sweet alyssum, corn, onions and parsley. If you really want to enthuse the young gardener, help him plant the seeds in the pot so they spell out his or her initials as they grow. Set the pots in a bright window, where they will develop rapidly before interest is lost in the project.
An avocado seed can be forced into growth in about a month, when it is grown in water. Take the avocado seed, place toothpicks into the side of it, about one inch above the base, pointed end up. Rest the toothpicks on the top of the glass, with the bottom of the seed actually touching the water. Cover the glass container with foil until the roots begin to grow because daylight is apt to spoil root growth. When the roots begin to grow down into the water and the top has grown six or eight inches, begin mixing soil with the water. After a couple of weeks of the combination of water and soil, the avocado plant should be carefully planted into a container of soil. This can usually be an exciting project for children, as these seeds will eventually develop into trees, attaining a height of up to five feet or more. They should be set out in the garden, in their containers, during the warm summer months and should be brought back inside during the fall, winter and early spring. Indoors, keep them where the air is rather humid. A similar experiment may be tried with a sweet potato, which develops into a vine. Use a sweet potato tuber that shows signs of life. Use the toothpick-water method, with the tapered end of the tuber down and about one-fourth of the tuber in the water. Transfer to soil once the vine begins to develop.
Another interesting experiment for children to try is the growing of pineapple from the top growth. Supermarkets throughout the area sell them during much of the winter. Cut off the top growth, leaving an inch or two of the fruit attached. Set the top, fruit down, on top of a pot of moist sand. Once the pineapple has rooted, transfer the plant to soil. A similar project can be undertaken with carrots, turnips, radishes or beets. Simply cut off the foliage and about an inch of the vegetable. Set them in sand or soil. Remove the old foliage before planting. However, remember these vegetables are all started easily from seed and will develop a root crop from seed.
If you have oranges, lemons, grapefruit or tangerines around the house, let the children start some of the seeds. About six seeds should be placed in each pot of soil. Then, when the seeds begin to grow, they can be thinned out and transplanted, with only one seed per pot. The bright, glossy foliage is rather attractive in the home.
The key to keeping children interested in gardening, whether it be inside or outdoors, is to keep the projects simple. They should have some responsibilities in the project. Choose only plants that will give rather rapid results. As they progress in gardening, there are all kinds of bulbs, seeds, cuttings, grafting and other gardening interests to explore.