As I find myself spending more time indoors during the COVID-19 outbreak with less access to my usual grocery shopping routines and items, it forces me to think about our food sources. Most kids, and many adults, don’t know where their food comes from, how it’s grown, or how it ends up on their plates. While we’re stuck inside with limited space and resources, here are a few mini gardening activities to inspire a deeper understanding of food. I’m also hoping it could be a fun activity for parents who have long days to fill with their kids!
Activity 1: Grow Celery in a Dish
This activity is exciting for kids because you can see growth within a few days. Although this method will likely grow more leaves than stalks of celery, it is a great way to start a conversation with young kids about growing food.
- A bunch of celery
-Small dish/ container
- To start, take a celery bunch and cut off the bottom.
-Fill a small dish with water. Place the celery bottom in the dish.
-In a day or two, it should start to sprout. Once it roots, you can plant the celery bottom in a larger container with soil and grow celery stalks. Even if it only grows celery leaves, snip off and use for cooking!
Activity 2: Grow Garlic Greens in a Can
This activity requires more patience since it takes longer for the garlic greens to grow. Once the garlic shoots emerge, they grow quickly and resemble long skinny shallots which are yummy for salads, soups, or on potatoes.
-A head of garlic
-Empty can of beans
- To start, use a can opener to make holes in the bottom of an empty can so that water can get out and not drown the plants.
- Depending on the size of the holes, use a paper towel or coffee filter to cover the bottom so that the soil will stay inside while still allowing water to get out.
-Fill the can with potting soil but leave about 2 inches of space below the rim of the can.
-Split your garlic head into cloves. Keep as much skin on as possible.
-Make sure the pointy part of the garlic clove is facing up and the side that was at the bottom of the head is facing down.
-Plant the cloves, pointy side up, in the can. Push them into the soil so that half of the clove is covered. Make sure that there is a little space in between the cloves.
-Fill the rest of the can with soil so that the cloves are totally covered.
-Pat the soil down gently. Water it slowly until water starts to come out of the bottom. Add more soil if you see any cloves poking through the top.
- Water the garlic often so that the soil stays moist but not wet.
-In 1-2 weeks garlic shoots should start poking through the soil. Wait until the garlic shoots are a couple of inches tall before you cut them for cooking. Leave about an inch of shoot on each clove so that they will continue to grow.
Activity 3: Grow Your Own Mini Garden
This activity allows kids to express their own creativity. It is also a nice lesson about up cycling materials in order to reuse them as gardening containers.
-Potting soil -Any seed variety -Water -Container (the C & the Moon Malibu Made Body Scrub jar is perfect to reuse for a mini garden!)
-Decorate the gardening container before planting. Ask kids to paint, draw faces, or put stickers on the container to make their mini garden extra special.
-Fill the container about three-quarters full with potting soil.
-Plant your seeds! Some suggestions are oat seeds, wheat grass seeds, violas or small ferns, but use whatever you have available.
-Cover the seeds with more potting soil. Keep the soil moist by spraying the seeds with a spray bottle often.
-The seeds should sprout quickly and will become your kids own fun creation!
Sarah Michler received her Master’s degree in Environmental Education from New York University and started an educational ocean camp for kids on Nantucket, MA which aims to use art in order to inspire kids to care about and want to protect the ocean. In 2019, Sarah sailed with an all-women crew through the Pacific Ocean in order to study the plastics problem in our seas. She is currently working on a series of environmental children’s books to use as teaching tools for young kids.