It is March and it is time to plant some seeds for the coming summer here in Sweden. This year, I have planned to plant tomatoes, potatoes, and white garlic. I decided to pick them straight out of the refrigerator, to show my kids that there is no need to buy expensive seeds from a store.
There are a lot of different kinds of tomatoes and potatoes, which all vary in taste. I would say, the biggest benefit is that you already likely know that you like the taste of these that you picked from your refrigerator. In my experience, the bonus will be even better-tasting vegetables when you have grown them yourself. That is something for my kids who are 5 and 8 years old to experience this summer!
I think this is an excellent science experiment that will take time, at least a couple of months before harvest. It is important to start it in time, especially if you live as high up north as we do and the summer is really short.
This year, we decided to start with tomatoes, potatoes, white garlic, and chili. They are all very easy to plant indoors in pots. Some tomatoes tend to become quite tall when they grow, so it is good if they can grow in a greenhouse or even outdoors when it is warm enough (above 68℉/20℃).
If you keep the plants indoors, it will not generate many vegetables to harvest in the end. The insects need to do their magic with the plants! I am thinking I should keep some pots indoors just to state an example for my kids. I have not decided if I will yet, maybe next year. 😉
We put some soil in pots and put one vegetable in each pot and then covered it with soil. I think we have used seven potatoes, one tomato that I split in six cloves, and one clove of white garlic. My kids were so fast, so I am not 100% sure which vegetable ended up were. *LOL* I just took the vegetables straight out from the refrigerator, so we did not buy separate seeds from the store. We had purchased the vegetables before we started this experiment of course.
I had some chili seeds left from last year, which might not work at all, but I wanted to give them a try to plant those too.
After the vegetables were covered with soil in their pots, we watered them, put them on the window sill, and covered them with a plastic film. The plastic film should keep the soil wet a bit longer until the seeds have started to grow. The seeds need water, light, and room temperature to start to grow.
It only took a week when two of the pots with tomatoes had started to grow, see the image above! Now we are eagerly waiting for the rest to start growing.
My recommendation is that when the vegetables have started to grow they should be moved to bigger pots after a while, so they have enough space to grow in. They will also need nutritious soil to become strong which in return likely will generate a good harvest.
I think kids will learn that it takes time for both tomato and other seeds to grow and even more time before they can harvest. Kids also learn that they need to be patient before they see any results. Plants need to be taken care of. My kids love the responsibility I have given them to take care of their own plants. I hope they will keep their interest up until they can get the reward of eating tomatoes and potatoes they have grown themselves.
In my opinion, planting seeds is an excellent way for kids to learn about the growth process and how things work in nature.
You can also combine this experiment by reading books about it, which is one of the recommendations I share in my post “Why kids ask why“. I think it will help your kids to get an even better understanding of the process, and it will increase their vocabulary which is a great help in order to be able to find answers to their questions and to be able to describe them.
I have learned that the best time to plant the seeds indoors is now in March-April for us who live in Sweden. This year we still have snow on the outside in late March (at the time I write this post), so seeds would not grow outdoors for the time being. I guess if you live on the other side of the globe it is the total opposite.
The best time to plant seeds outdoors is in late April (depending on the temperature) or May-June for us who live in Sweden. If we plant seeds later than that here, the summer might be over before we get any vegetables to harvest. That would really be a shame, don’t you agree?
The things kids learn by growing their own vegetables is a good understanding of how things work in nature. There is no way to speed up the process, so kids need to be patient before they can see any results. Kids gain responsibility as they take care of their own plants.
Then we have the best part, the feeling when you can eat vegetables you have grown yourself. In my experience, I think these tend to taste a lot better than the vegetables we buy from stores.
Another benefit is that growing your own vegetables also saves the family money since you will not need to buy these vegetables. Is it not amazing that from one single tomato and one single potato you can get X times more tomatoes and potatoes? And in addition, there is no long transport needed from the plant to your own plate.
What do you think about this experiment? I would love to hear your thoughts, just leave a comment below!