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Home > Kids Gardening > Nurturing the Plants
Nurturing the Plants
Nurturing the PlantsNurturing a plant helps children learn to nurture themselves while teaching responsibility through plant care and building self-esteem through accomplishment.
March is the time to plant seeds of the warm season vegetables and annual herbs you want to transplant outside in late May. It takes six to eight weeks to grow a good transplant. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, cilantro, and sweet basil are good candidates for starting immediately.

Whatever container you decide to use, it must have drainage holes in the bottom. A waxed paper milk carton or cup make good plant pots after holes are cut into the bottom. Fill the pot with potting soil leaving room for one-half inch of vermiculite on top. Vermiculite is a lightweight, expanded clay material sold for both plant growing and use as house insulation. Both potting soil and plant growing grade vermiculite can be purchased from nurseries and garden centers as well as some grocery stores.

Sow small seeds on top and large seeds down in the vermiculite. USDA research shows the vermiculite topping prevents rotting of seedlings at the soil line, a condition gardeners call damping off. Cover the seeds with plastic wrap until they germinate, then remove and water only when the vermiculite and soil feel dry to the finger. Remember that overwatering is the chief hazard to seedlings.

Sprouting Sprouts

It`s very easy to grow your own sprouts - they`re very good for you and taste great in salads and sandwiches and especially in cheese omelettes - YUM!

What you need: dried mung beans from the supermarket, health food shop or Asian store, a large glass jar, a piece of Chux, a rubber band.

What you do:

1. Put half a cup of beans in a strainer and wash them, then place them in a large glass jar. Cover the top with a piece of Chux (or cheesecloth) held firmly with a rubber band.
2. Tip the jar on its side in a tray and raise the bottom end on a piece of egg carton so that the water can drain out.
3. Place the jar in a dark cupboard.
4. Each day, rinse the beans with fresh water, rinse and replace the Chux and return the jar to the cupboard.
5. In a few days the beans will begin to sprout. When they are about 2 cm long, tip them into a strainer, wash and remove the loose `shells`, drain and EAT!
Growing Mushrooms

April is mushroom month. Perhaps you have mushrooms that come up in your garden. If you go walking early in the morning, you might find fairy rings on the footpath or at the park. I particularly like the big red Fly Agaric toadstools which have red caps and white spots. I can imagine the brownies from the Enchanted Wood living underneath.

Unfortunately Fly Agaric are VERY poisonous so don`t touch them. Never try to eat mushrooms you find growing wild, unless a grown-up knows for sure they are OK. Many are poisonous. You can safely grow your own mushrooms to eat though - yum! You Will Need: A mushroom growing kit. A dark place for the mushrooms to grow. (Under the house is often a good spot.)

1. Follow the instructions on the kit box step by step. It is very easy. You will be soaking the peat that the mushrooms grow through so that the spores in the grey coloured compost will germinate and start to grow.
2. It may take quite a few weeks for the little mushrooms to appear in the dark, protected spot you have chosen for them, but then they will grow very fast and after about 5 or 6 days you can pick some.
3. Lift the mushrooms and their stalks gently from the compost with a slight twisting motion. Try not to disturb the peat because more mushrooms will continue to grow for weeks.
4. Mushrooms are delicious fried in butter with a little salt and pepper. They are yummy on toast for breakfast and are very good for you.
Growing Seeds in a Seed Raising Tray

You will need: A cardboard egg carton, a baking dish, a pair of scissors, seed raising mixture, some seeds to sow (peas, beans or broad beans are good to try).
What to do:

1. Cut the egg carton along the "hinge" to make one flat tray and one tray of "plugs".
2. Use the scissors to push out the bottom of each egg space so that the plugs have no bottom.
3. Sit the tray of plugs in the flat tray and fill them with moist seed raising mix.
4. Plant one seed in each plug.
5. Sit the trays in a well-lit spot in the baking tray. Keep the soil moist by adding water to the bottom tray if necessary.
6. When the seedlings have grown leaves you can transplant them into pots or straight into the garden. Water the seedlings first and let them drain. Separate the plugs by carefully cutting the egg carton into pieces. Carefully cut down the sides of each plug with the scissors. It doesn`t really matter if the cardboard stays because it will soon break down in the soil.
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Making of a Garden Plant Projects
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