Grab your kids and get out the flower pots, soil and gardening gloves!
It’s time to get to work planting and growing during the short summer season we have here in Canada.
Children love to get their hands dirty and seeing the results of what they’ve sown.
Herbs are easy to grow indoors and you can encourage your kids to take their harvest to the table by snipping flavourful leaves off of home-grown plants and adding them to a dish you cook together. A gardening and cooking lesson all in one!
Herbs also have nutritional value in the form of antioxidants, essential oils, vitamins, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties.
First Step: Get Artsy
If the kids are getting antsy about planting but there aren’t enough daylight hours quite yet, you can start by painting pots and making plant tags. As always, the Dollar Store has a wide variety of inexpensive supplies.
Clay pots are best for painting and good for herbs that love dry conditions like rosemary, sage and thyme but not so great for moisture-loving herbs like mint and parsley – you’ll just have to keep an eye on the soil and water those more often.
You’ll need clay pots and saucers (maybe two per child) acrylic paint if you don’t already have some, brushes, wide wooden popsicle sticks and a permanent felt pen.
Spread some newspaper on the kitchen table, bring out the supplies and let the kids go wild. Every pot will turn out as unique as the child who painted it!
Older kids can write out the names of the herbs they’re growing on their own (or with a bit of help). Younger children can practice holding a pen and writing with your hand as a guide.
The sticks can be colourfully decorated with felt pen designs and glitter glue sticks as well.
If you’re growing herbs from seed, then a light seed starting soil is best. If you’re going to bypass the sprouting time and prefer to buy small starter plants instead, then a good-quality organic soil is fine. Mediterranean herbs like rosemary and lavender prefer a light, well-drained soil.
Starting From Seed
A fun way to start any plant from seed is to save a cardboard egg carton and halved egg shells.
Just put the rinsed out, intact shell halves in the carton, fill with seed starter soil and sprinkle the seeds on top.
When the seeds sprout, you can plant the shell directly into the garden outside or into a pot.
Eggshells provide calcium to build strong cell walls plants for growing plants.
Herb Garden Themes
You can let your kids pick random herb seeds or small established seedlings from the plant nursery or you can build your herb garden around a theme.
A pizza garden with basil, parsley and oregano or a fragrant herb garden with lavender, mint and lemon balm are a couple of fun ones to try. How about an herbal tea garden with peppermint, spearmint or pineapple mint?
You can even add mint to ice cubes to freshen up a glass of water or iced tea. FYI, mint plants are invasive so it’s best to keep them in pots indoors or on a patio – they will definitely go rogue in your garden.
Herb gardens can be a fun and educational project for you and your kids.
Challenge them to research and find as many uses for the herbs they grow as they can. Then put them to flavourful use!