When it’s cold outside and the kids have energy to burn, easy gardening experiments can help keep them busy. Grab an orange, an avocado or a potato and show your little one how to grow new plants by putting the seeds or pits in soil or water. Children love watching the seeds turn into plants, and you’ll love watching your kids’ knowledge grow!
- 4 orange seeds
- Pot, 4-inch diameter
- Potting soil, moistened
The seeds of an orange are a great place to begin. This will also work with seeds of lemons, grapefruit, limes and other citrus fruits. Fill a pot four inches in diameter with moistened potting soil. Plant three or four orange seeds an inch deep in the pot. Keep them well watered and in two to four weeks they should sprout. After six weeks you’ll have to transplant the individual seedlings into larger pots. It takes a long time for flowers to grow (and many years for any fruit to grow), but the quick sprouting and fragrant smell of the orange leaves should engage your child.
- Avocado pit
- 3 or 4 toothpicks
- Water glass
If the small citrus seeds are a hit, try planting big seeds of tropical fruit, such as the pit of an avocado. Rinse the avocado pit, then insert three or four toothpicks into it evenly around its middle. Rest the toothpicks on the rim of glass; the pointed end of the avocado should face up. Fill the glass with water until the bottom quarter (or less) of the pit is submerged. The kids must check it regularly and maintain the water level. In a month or so a seedling will emerge! At that point it will have to be transferred to a pot. Note: While the sprouting is exciting, this plant won’t thrive indoors beyond a couple of years, and it’ll never produce fruit indoors.
- 4 toothpicks
- Water glass
Tuber plants (potatoes, sweet potatoes, ginger) are also easy to grow. A shriveled potato with eyes that are ready to sprout is best! Poke toothpicks evenly around the center of the potato (as done above with the avocado pit) and hang it pointy side down, halfway submerged in water. Place the container in a sunny spot and replace the water as needed, not allowing it to get cloudy. Roots will appear in a few days, and within a week a sprout will emerge. After about a month, the potato plant will have to move into a small pot with potting mix. (Warning: The sprouts are poisonous. This is an experiment for growing, not eating!)