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July 12, 2013

Plant projects the kids can start now

Q: Any hints for keeping little hands busy during the hot and rainy days? The kids can’t find “anything to do” and we still have beautiful weeks of summer ahead. Some easy indoor gardening to do with the kids ... to tide you over the boring, vacation days! They could plant greens or other quick maturing plants for a cool growing summer garden. Or they could plan next year’s garden. Kids are never too young for a garden. But, what can they do right now? Today?

A: Help the kids to grow something quick and easy indoors. Planting encourages interest in gardening and the very green world that is all around us. The responsibility of caring for a living plant can be a simple life lesson in caring for all living things. It’s a responsibility that can be taken on by even the youngest child.

What will you need? Plants that are cheap and fun and easy and quick to grow. That’s something to do when there’s nothing to do, and it’ll keep the kids busy. There is cheap, free stuff right in your kitchen to grow now! Most of these projects will require just a $1 or $2 bag of potting soil, a small cost for the project. The rest of the stuff you probably have in the kitchen right now or you can add to the shopping list this week, with little expense.

What containers should be used for planting? Recycle the throw-aways. Don’t bother with standard pots, unless you already have them. Yogurt cups, even paper cups are fine for these short-term projects. For larger plants, a plastic cola or milk bottle can be cut to size.

Start with seeds –– use seeds from fruits. Grow little trees from oranges, grapefruit, and apple seeds. Stick the seeds into a cup of soil and watch the tiny tree grow. The leaves of citrus are pretty and shiny. Keep the trees well watered, and in a sunny window. Bigger seeds of avocados and mangos grow well indoors and can be moved outside during the warm weather. Ask your produce department manager –– he or she may have an over-ripe fruit (the best for planting) to give away ... when he or she hears what you are doing.

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