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Plant Spring Seedlings with the Kids for a Fun, Easy Activity

I’m a firm believer in the power of traditions. Family culture is important to me, and one of the foundations of a strong culture is regular traditions. Of course, annual holidays are an easy one and just about everyone can probably identify a special memory surrounding any given holiday.

But when you think harder into the things that make or made your family truly feel special, you’ll likely recall slightly unique (but not necessarily rare or uncommon) experiences. That’s where family magic is made!

One of the traditions I’m actively building with my two young girls is gardening. It’s something I didn’t do very much of growing up, but I enjoy it and feel strongly connected to it now that we are raising our family in Maine.

It’s a nice tradition, no matter how big or small your garden, because every year there is a life-cycle to flow through. And every year it teaches anyone willing to learn some seriously valuable life lessons.

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While I love the entire process of gardening, I’m focusing today on just the excitement of seedling season. We live in Northern New England, and it’s not until late March that we begin to see true signs of warmer weather ahead. We know it’s time when we finally see the colorful and resilient crocus’ fighting through the ground. Our planting zone is 5b, so every year feels like a fresh start as the ground and ice thaws around us.

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If you’re new to gardening, involving young kids could feel a bit stressful. It certainly can be if you are mess-adverse. Here are a few tips to get your seedling /gardening tradition started and your kids:

1. Pick a starting point.

Maybe you know you’d like some herbs or a few containers of flowers on your deck. Maybe you already have a raised bed and want to assign your kids a certain plant to be responsible for. Whatever it is, pick your limit and plan for just that. Don’t let the excitement of potential flowers and produce get you too carried away, trust me.

2. Order product.

Typically, it’s safe to order any new seeds at the beginning of March and begin indoor sowing by the end of the month until it’s consistently 60 degrees outside. If you live in a warmer climate you’ll likely need to start earlier, or even direct sow starting now. Popular seed catalogs usually drop their spring seeds in late February or early March. We order from Johnny Seeds or a local spot called Pinetree Gardens, but you can also pick some up at your local grocery or plant nursery.

Here’s a checklist of all you’ll need:

  • Peat containers – I prefer these because they are more earth-friendly than plastic and completely biodegradable. They can even be planted right into your pots or the ground.
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  • 1 package gardening soil – either flower or produce depending on what you’re planting.
  • Seed packets – you decide! But make sure to read the instructions on when to plant and how to care for the plant while it’s germinating.
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  • Markers – this package of markers comes ready to customize and has small bags for any leftover seedlings to be stored until you need them next. So handy!
  • Watering can or spritz bottle – definitely get a dedicated tool for this – pouring water from a cup or anything else can over-flood the seedlings!
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3. Plant and play!

If you are mess-adverse or need to get the wiggles out of the kids before you get started, bring the party outside. This way everyone can play and explore freely without too much stress. Here you’ll want to line up all of your tools, as listed above, and create a type of assembly line:

1. Fill your peat seedling containers with dirt, pack slightly.

2. Write in the names of the plants on the tags.

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    3. Lightly plant the seeds according to the packaging.

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    4. Place your marker in the container and water lightly.

    5. Repeat until you’ve planting all of your desired seeds.

    6. Check back in a day for soil moisture and watch over the next week as the plants begin to sprout!

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    For the City Dwellers:

    Planting seedlings can be a fun tradition, a family science experiment, or a way to try something new. No matter what, it’s a fun activity that can be done no matter where you live. One of the things we tried new this year that could be excellent for the urbanite, is this indoor herb garden with grow lights!

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    Lila was really interested in how it worked and it was a great opportunity to explain photosynthesis. It comes with pre-planted seeds and clear, easy instructions to get it all set up. It probably took Lila about 5 minutes to get it all up and running. We will update this post with photos as it grows!

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