Results Are In! Grow Your Own Potatoes Project

This year we’ve once again participated in the Potatoes for Schools – Grow Your Own Potatoes project, whereby they send you potatoes and instructions, and you have to grow your own. As part of the project you’re supposed to keep an eye on your potatoes, soil them up from time to time, and generally follow their progress.  We measured them intermittently, and made sure it was slug free and so on, but we did fail miserably at the seed potato – the one you’re supposed to plant in such a way that you can actually see the root system. I know we planted it in a jar, I just have no idea what became of the jar! We did, however, do the same with a pumpkin seed and a sunflower, and were able to watch their root systems stretch towards water. It was all very interesting. But back to the potatoes…

Grow Your Own Potatoes ProjectRead more: Results Are In! Grow Your Own Potatoes Project

5 Growing Themed Activities For Children

Our PlayLearning theme this week is ‘growing’ with a bent towards gardening, seeds and the plant cycle.

While it’s still a little early to be planting, I think, and we have absolutely no space to really be doing it – what with the swamp garden in the state it is, and the conservatory the new garage – but somehow it still feels like a good thing to be doing this week.

Here are five great ideas for helping children understand the seed – to seedling – to plant process, and just a fun activity too.
learning about growing

1) The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle

The Tiny Seed is a gorgeous little story about a tiny seed blown away from the parent plant, where it travels a long way with all the other seeds. The seed survives the hazards of the journey and finally falls onto fertile earth where it grows to become a huge flower, attracting visitors from miles around, before the seasons change, and the flowers seeds begin a journey of their own.

Ameli loved this story, and even a few hours after the first reading, was able to answer questions about the story, and the journey of seeds.

If you don’t want to buy the book, there’s a beautiful reading of it on Youtube.

2) One Seed – a children’s story and song

Another lovely story, with valuable lessons about being  strong against ridicule, and standing up for what you believe it and having faith in yourself. This story talks about how following your dream and doing what you know you are capable of can affect many people down the line. There’s emphasis on roots and the strength they give and how putting those roots down attracts water to the plant. There’s also the spread of plants through the seeds, birds and people.

After the story there’s a song, pictures and things to think about. We didn’t go through all those, but did watch the story a few times. It definitely sank in, because later today, driving somewhere, Ameli was answering all my questions about the roots – if the roots are deep, would the wind blow the tree over? if you leaned against the tree, would it fall over? can the leaves blow off?

This story definitely increased her understanding of roots and growth.


3) Craft a Flower Garden

My mom’s final memorial service was on Saturday, in Perth, and obviously we weren’t there. The girls and I created a flower garden – Nana’s flower garden.

We used:

  • Lolipop sticks
  • Mini cupcake cases
  • Cut out ‘petals’
  • 3 photographs
  • Ribbon
  • Circle of polystyrene out of packaging

I cut a few sets of petals for the girls to glue to green and white lolipop sticks. We also glued and snipped a few mini cupcake cases, gluing the pictures to the middle. We added some ribbon (blue) around the outside of the polystyrene, and twirled some starry ribbon around too.

The girls love their Nana’s Garden


4) Watch beans grow

Not literally. It would be very tedious. We’re actually a little early on the bean planting, according to the instructions on the package, but never mind. We used three empty spice bottles, and some cotton wool, and the girls helped place the seeds from Barlotti beans, Broad beans and Runner beans in the three bottles in such a way that as they sprout and grow, we can keep an eye on them. I’m quite excited about this. I hope they do sprout!

Add a popsicle stick with the name of the beans and sit back and wait. We hope.


5) Onions grown indoors

This is a Pinterest offering I spotted some time ago, and never gave much thought to again, but when I was about to throw out a 3l oil can I suddenly remembered it and thought it could be a good idea.

Now, I’m not sure how the heck they made the perfect circles in their plastic on the Pinterest version, but it was quite a job. In the end I pierced the bottle with the tip of a knife, then cut squares out all around.

I bought an expanding potting soil which the girls thoroughly enjoyed watching and mixing with the water, and we layered water with onions sticking the tip out through the hole and the roots covered in soil.

Our onions are currently on the window sill where they might get a few rays of sun, if the sun ever shines again.

These five ‘growing’ activities gave us loads of fun and conversation today and I look forward to seeing our vegetables grow as my girlie’s mind expands and absorbs too.

Gardening – It’s Like Watching Water Boil, But More Exciting

I’m so glad I decided to plant the sunflower seeds the same day as the tomato plants, because for days and days nothing happened. We opened the growing thingy each day to find nothing, except one random weed that popped it’s head out. I was beginning to think the Heinz Grow Your Own tomato plants were a fail. I did find another bag of seeds though, so thought I’d try again.

20130505-222540.jpgThe sun flower seeds sprouted and one of the two of them shot right up. It’s pretty cool though. The other may or may not have had a fight with a pigeon. I’ve stuck it back in the ground, but I’m not sure it’s grown at all since then. At least it hasn’t died. That’s progress, right?

It’s been a bit of a rubbish week, weather wise, so I haven’t really been out in the garden much, and left my ‘failed’ tomatoes where they were, and I’m glad I did.  When I got back to them, there were four little plants smiling up at me. I’m not sure if Ameli was more excited, or me!

We’ve replanted the sunflower plants, and will be replanting the little tomatoes soon. In the meantime we’ve also planted some potatoes from the Grow Your Own potatoes scheme that was advertised earlier in the year – did you know there’s a potato council? It’s a little like the Ministry of Magic, eh? – but I took more than a month to open the box, by which time all the eyes had sprouted and now I’m not sure if they’re actually going to grow or not. We’ll see, I guess. I’m still really hopeful for something more than herbs from our garden this year!

Anyway, I have yet to plant the next bag of tomato seeds. They’re a different variety, so hopefully between the two we’ll have a good harvest, and once again I’m really hoping I didn’t leave it too late!