6 Fun Gardening Projects to Do With Kids
Of course, you don’t really need kids or grandkids to grow these projects. Think of them as your cover story for playing with your food, or in water or dirt. Let the fun begin!
Stick four toothpicks a little over halfway up the side of a raw sweet potato in a radial fashion so the narrow half can be suspended in a jar of water. Place the jar in a sunny window. Add additional water every few days to keep the bottom half submerged. When white roots emerge from the bottom and green stems emerge from the top, you’ve got yourself a new houseplant. Pot it in a container with a drainage hole, using potting mix. Next spring, plant it in the garden and you might get new sweet potatoes growing underground.
Don’t throw that avocado pit away. Let it dry out for several days, then follow the sweet potato directions, only with the wide end suspended in water and the narrow end up. Rooting and sprouting takes longer, even up to a month. Once established, plant it in a container that can be moved outside for summer.
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Choose a ripe pineapple with a healthy whorl of green leaves. Slice the leafy top off an inch below the leaves. Pull off a few of the bottommost leaves, followed by the inch of rind and fruit. Set it on its side and wait a week for it to dry. Plant the pineapple 1 inch deep in potting soil with the soil level about ½ inch below the leaves. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, setting the container in bright light. Roots develop in six to eight weeks. If you want to stick with it, a small new pineapple should develop on top of the new leaves in one to two years, especially if it lives outside in the summer.
Slice off the bottom 2 inches from a bunch of celery. Place it in a shallow dish with 1 inch of water, maintaining that level at all times. Roots and leaf growth can appear in as little as a week. Pot it with everything below the soil surface except the center leaf tips. Watch it grow.
Cut a piece of ginger root into several sections, making sure each has at least three eyes – those dimpled spots on the bumps. Plant the sections just below the soil surface and keep the soil moist for three weeks, at which time the shoots should appear above ground.
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This project is fun for little kids but doesn’t use food scraps. Draw a face on the side of a Styrofoam cup with a felt marker. Fill the cup with moist potting mix and plant grass seeds. Use scissors to “cut the hair” when it gets tall enough.
Enjoy your projects and your kids.
[infobox alignment=”full” title=”Ask the Expert”]
Q: What is the shrub that turns bright red in late fall?
A: Euonymus alatus or winged burning bush. Although still available commercially, it pushes out native plants, affecting native wildlife depending on those plants.
Q: I don’t have much luck getting succulent cuttings to root. Any tips?
A: Cut off the growing tip on the end of a branch. Remove the bottom leaves so you have ½ inch to 1 inch of bare stem. Allow it to dry for about five days and then plant it in potting soil, keeping it moist. After it roots, let it dry out between watering. [/infobox]
About the author: Jan Phipps is a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener. She farms, gardens, writes and podcasts near Chrisman.