Getting your kids excited about the garden can start even before it's warm enough outdoors to pull on those gumboots and gloves. Indoor seed starting gives you an easy way to teach kids about planting, and also gives you a head start on your garden this year!
We're giving you all the info you need to start planting seeds with your kids including a guide to seedling trays, list of equipment needed and planting instructions. Don't forget to look at our top seeds for kids list at the bottom of this page!
There are two tray types to choose from, regular rectangular open trays and the modular trays. Both can be covered with a clear plastic lid to help keep humidity and warmth inside and grow your seedlings.
Regular open trays are great for rows of seedlings, especially those with small seeds that can be scattered rather than individually planted. Radishes and other plants with small root systems don't mind being crowded.
Modular trays are great for plants that need their own distinct growing space, without worrying about entangled roots or their leaves being cramped for space. Leafy plants such as lettuce, spinach or basil will do well in modular trays and you can get trays with larger or smaller cells depending on the seeds you plant! As well, modular trays ensure easy transplanting as the soil comes out in a 'plug' that can be inserted into a hole in your garden easily.
Getting Ready to Plant!
Before you begin there are a few things you'll need.
- Trays to plant your seeds into, along with clear plastic lids.
- Seeds! Choose plants you'll love to eat all summer. Take a look at our list of easy seeds for kids at the bottom of the page.
- Seed starting soil. Choose a mix specifically designed for seeds, as it is fine-grained and promotes fast and healthy root growth.
- A space to pour your soil and plant that doesn't mind getting a bit dirty. (You can plant outdoors if the weather is warm enough!)
- Markers for your seedlings, so that you know which is which! (Can you really tell one little green sprout from another?) Popsicle sticks with the plant names written on (in permanent ink) and colourfully decorated are perfect.
Let your kids do the planting, don't worry, seeds are pretty resilient and don't have to be planted absolutely perfectly in order to sprout up!
- Fill your trays with soil. Use seed starting mix for best results, and leave an inch of room at the top so you don't overflow the tray when watering! Pat the soil down a bit to compact it enough for the seeds to be planted.
- Read the back of your seed packets to find out how deep and how far apart your seeds need to be planted. If you are using modular trays then don't worry about the space in between, as the cells in the tray will create a separate space for each seed's roots.
- Plant those seeds!!
- Add some water, making sure all the soil gets soaked in preparation for growing. Seed trays have holes in the bottom, so before you water make sure the tray is located where the water can run out freely and not require cleanup!
- Put the clear lid on top and wait for the seeds to grow.
If you're feeling creative you can create a seed growth chart with the kids, so they can measure them every few days and keep track of which types of plants grow the quickest or have the most leaves! Make it a fun science activity and get them excited to transplant their plants into the garden when the ground gets warm.
Easy Seeds to Plant With Kids
Some seeds are just easier to grow than others, less picky, and quicker to pop out of the soil and delight your kids! Here are our favourites.
- Lettuce seeds (reliable, fast and edible!)
- Radishes (quick to grow, harvested in 3 weeks and yummy to snack on)
- Sunflowers (grow tall quickly, and fun to measure all summer long in the garden)
- Beans (hardy, fast growing and delicious vegetables all summer)
- Basil (quick to grow, can be eaten with lots of meals!)
- Chives (resilient, fun to chop down and cut up for meals!)
There are lots of choices when it comes to seeds, but remember they eventually become big plants and need to go in the garden. Make sure you have an appropriate garden for them to be transplanted into, with the required sunlight and warmth, to keep them happy all summer long!