Lesson Plans >
thanks to Earl
May Nursery & Garden Center
in Leawood, Kansas for their expert planting advice.
Spring Break is just days away, but for most of us, it just doesn't feel
much like Spring! Bring some green into your classroom by creating a miniature
Always try to have items donated - most businesses are
more than happy to help out. You may be able to find a local nursery that
will donate "flats" to plant in.These are small plastic containers
that come fastened together at perforations and can then be separated.
If you can't locate some free flats, have students bring empty (clean)
milk cartons from home, or collect the individual milk cartons from the
cafeteria after lunch to plant in. Plastic or paper will both work just
fine, but keep in mind that paper will eventually begin to break down
when watered. You will want to sterilize any plastic containers by dipping
them in a solution of one part bleach to 20 parts water. This will kill
off any bacteria or micro-organisms that may want to attack your new plants.
Growing from seed is a very rewarding experience! The only materials you
should need to purchase for this activity are the seeds to plant and a
starting mix to plant them in. While you can get dirt from your backyard,
a good starting mix is loaded with nutrients to help your plants flourish
sooner. Starting mixes are also important because they have been sterilized
and are free of weeds and the like.
When purchasing seeds, marigolds and zinnias both come highly
recommended because they grow quickly and come in a variety of colors.
If you don't necessarily desire a flowering plant, vegetable bush beans
also grow quickly, and a planting of cat grass offers a quick,
edible take-home treat for the family pet.
Fill your planting container three-quarters full with starting mix. Tap
the soil down carefully, but do not pack it in tightly because you want
to allow roots room to grow. Sprinkle seeds according to package directions.
As a general rule, three times the diameter of the seed is the depth the
seed should be planted at (diameter x 3 = planting depth), so keep this
in mind when covering the seeds. For very small seeds, just push them
lightly into the soil - it doesn't take much to cover them adequately.
Once the seeds are planted, it is important they are kept moist.
After watering, cover the containers with plastic wrap to keep the moisture
in. Poke just a few small holes in the plastic to allow fresh air in.
Seeds need as much light as you can give them. A fluorescent or "grow
light" on a timer is ideal - experts recommend a minimum of 14 hours
of direct light. However, if you don't have the means to provide that
much artificial sunshine, place the containers on a window ledge where
they will get as much sun as possible.
Most seeds will begin to sprout in about a week. The plastic wrap can
be removed when the plants reach about a quarter inch in height. Continue
to keep them well watered and moist. Also, products such as Miracle
Grow help to boost growth, and can be added to the water on a regular
basis to speed the process. Keep the plants at school until they flower
so you can enjoy the color in your classroom. Once all danger of frost
has passed, students can take the plants home and plant them outside,
or repot them for use as house plants.