Children love growing things, but sometimes they need a little encouragement and some instruction to get them interested. Having children decorate their own clay flower pot and helping them plant Calendula, which is also known as pot marigold is a great way to begin a gardening journey that often last their entire lifetime. Calendula is an easy to grow annual that is edible and grows quickly. It blooms midsummer until the frost in the fall and is perfect for a child's first plant.
You will need:
The pot: Brush a coat of primer paint on the surface of the clay pot. Let it dry. Children may paint the top of the pot a different color or use dots, stripes, zig zags etc. to decorate. Let each color dry before adding another. Allow the pot to dry completely for a day or so before using.
Planting the seeds: Place small rocks in the bottom of the pot for drainage and fill with potting soil about an inch from the top. Place four seeds in the soil, poking them in lightly. They should be evenly spaced so there is an equal amount of room between each one and edge of the pot. If all four come up you will have to thin them later by choosing two of the best looking seedlings. Cover the seeds with more soil until the pot is almost filled. Water lightly, making sure the soil is moistened, but the seeds are not disturbed. Place the pot in a sunny spot outside on a deck, porch or on a windowsill. Be sure to not let the soil dry out, but keep it moist until the seedlings appear. After this water, but don't keep the soil "soggy". When the plant because larger and established, watering once a day will be fine. On very hot days it may need to be watered twice if it's outside.
There is so much you can do at this point with your child. They can keep a notebook to record the growth of their plant, when it blooms, how many flowers, how often they water it etc. You can use it as a learning tool for measurements and graphing, or keep it simple and concentrate on the growing and nurturing of plant life.
Teach them to pinch off the blooms as they wither, and more will continue to grow, which is called deadheading. Near the end of the summer stop pinching the flowers off, and seeds will form. The calendula seeds in particular are very interesting and super easy to dry and harvest. Let them dry on the plant, collect them and save for next year. Let your child decorate envelopes and give some of the seeds to friends and family members with directions on how to grow. You can also do this same project with nasturtium or dwarf zinnia seeds.
Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer, editor, gardener and mother to three children. For more features and tips on gardening with children visit her at Seeds of Knowledge.com. http://seedsofknowledge.com/gardenpath.htmlTake the Next Step:
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