Planting a Mini-Greenhouse with Children

My daughter and I recently did a little project. We took materials that were lying around the house and put together a mini-seed starting greenhouse. It was a simple and easy project to work on with my 3 and a half year old daughter. Read on to see what we did.

Paper roll tubes, a rectangular tin foil pan, a left over plastic zipper bag from sheets, seed, sand, soil, and water.

We typically put the paper towel rolls in the compost bin but this time we saved a few and used them for this project. The tin foil pan came from yeast rolls we bought for dinner one day (yum!). The zipper bag was the packaging around a set of sheets we received for Christmas and the other materials we've had around for all sorts of projects.

Step 1: Fill the tin foil pan with sand. This layer will serve as drainage and will give the paper towel tubes something to anchor into. We used a square pan but use whatever you have as long as you can fit it into the plastic zipper bag later.

Step 2: Cut the paper towel rolls to the desired size. We used scissors to cut ours down to about 2.5 inches. If your child is old enough they can do the cutting. In our case I did the cutting while my daughter placed them into the sand.

Step 3: Place the newly cut paper towel rolls into the sand. Make sure that the cardboard rolls dig into the sand a little by twisting them as they sink.

Step 4: Fill the remaining volume of the tubes with soil. This is probably best done outside if you allow your child to do it, otherwise you can fill it where you like!

Step 5: Select seeds that are easy to handle for younger children like sunflower, watermelon, or peas. My daughter was able to plant salvia seeds which are quite a bit smaller than the sugar snap peas we also planted. Use your own judgment on your child's finger dexterity!

Step 6: Let your child do the planting! They may need help remembering where they planted the seeds so guide them to empty pots with new seeds. It's not a big deal if they put too many seeds in each pot as you can thin them later.

Step 7: Watering. Don't forget the water, the seedlings need it! Once you put the homemade seed flat into the mini-greenhouse you won't have to worry about watering until after germination.

Step 8: Take Cheesy pictures. It's your kid, save the memories!

Step 9: Place the homemade seed flat into the container. We discovered that the square tin is a perfect fit for the plastic zipper bag. You could do the same thing with a round pan but it might not fit in as nicely.

Step 10: Close the zipper bag with the seed flat inside then set the bag in a sunny location. We put ours on the back deck. Once the seeds germinate prop the bag open for some fresh air. Once the seeds get a true pair of leaves, not the cotyledons (the first set of leaves on a new seedling), you can plant them into the garden!

Some last minute tips: