For the past five years, I have admired people who coax seeds into lush vegetable gardens but have never felt I had the gardening skills to take the leap. Instead we spent around $50 each year on starts. Then, at an organic seed sale, it occurred to me that with an investment of less than five bucks and one used egg carton, my kids would enjoy the experience of trying to start our vegetable garden from scratch. If any of the seedlings survived, perhaps it would help my kids to bond with vegetables more deeply and actually embrace sauteed zucchini sometime this summer.
Did I do thorough research before beginning? Not in any way. I knew that the seeds needed sunlight, a warming pad, and lots of water. Other than that, we’re flying blind.
First Roscoe worked on the labels for each plant. He carefully drew out the letters and a quick picture of the plant. We covered his label with scotch tape so that it wouldn’t fade during waterings and attached it to a toothpick.
Then the kids dumped spoonfuls of dirt into an egg carton with eighteen compartments. This was messy and thoroughly fun for everyone.
Then we tucked each seed into the soil in the labeled compartment. The kids guessed before we opened the packets about the size and shape of each seed.
Finally we put our egg carton into a casserole dish and placed it on a heating pad next to a window. There is a squirt bottle nearby that is used frequently to water the seeds or for a weapon in sibling squabbles.
I also made little cards with numbers so that the kids can change out the cards on each day to see when the seeds germinate. Which ones come up first? (And, most likely) which ones are a total failure? I think we’ll do it every year, even though we may not ever be completely successful. I’m also hoping that all the care and coddling of these plants will lead my kids to enjoy gardening–and maybe even broccoli.