Indoor Gardening for Children

   If you have no children or grandchildren, then find some child in your community with whom you can share the joys of indoor gardening. In doing this you will be taking advantage of a golden opportunity to guide a child in learning some of the miracles of nature.

Children want to know the why of everything about gardening. When it comes to specific plants and projects, remember that they are inspired by the quick, the easy, the extra big, the miniature, and even the grotesque. They like botanical names, and a five-year-old may be better able than you to learn and remember that he has a Streptosolen jamesonii.

While the snow flies, or a bitter wind blows, you can spend an evening, or a Saturday morning, teaching a youngster something of what makes plants grow. One lesson could be about how plants multiply-how to take a leaf cutting of an African violet; show your student how an inch-long piece of sansevieria will root when its base is inserted in moist sand, and how a new plant will grow from it. Another time you could show him how to take tip cuttings of geraniums, Christmas cactus, chrysanthemums, and coleus. You can download  free Plant Spot app for these goals.

Seed planting is a magic world to children-to all of us, in fact-and, at the outset, they are pleased most with the seeds that germinate quickly. Good choices to begin with are pots or small flats of radishes, lettuce, beans, and midget tomatoes. At the same time the child plants these, have him sow one or two bean seeds against the side of a drinking glass or small jar filled with moist soil. He can then watch these seeds swell, form roots, and push forth sprouts, and in so doing he will be able to visualize what the other seeds he has planted are doing beneath the soil.

Help your young gardener sow a packet of hybrid coleus seeds. They grow quickly, sprouting within a few days in warmth and moisture. Every seedling will have different foliage and all children are entranced by such a Persian carpet of leaf colors and designs. After the seedlings are big enough to transplant, help your beginner move them to individual small pots or to even rows in a small flat. Show the beginner how to lift the seedlings carefully out of the starting medium; how to separate the roots, and how to firm them with care into a new place. Explain about watering them after transplanting, and how they need shade from hot, burning sunlight for a few days until the roots have a chance to become established.

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