West Union School Garden
Seed Starting in Classrooms
Posted by Amy Wachsmuth on 4/25/2019
In spring Lakshmi and I started seeds with students in their classrooms. The classes chose from a list of seeds for plants that are mostly early harvest vegetables like lettuces, peas, cilantro, and fall harvest choices like dry bush beans. We also threw in a few like sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, and pumpkins just for fun.
In the classrooms, each student wrote their name and their seed choice on a craft stick. Then they filled pots made from newspaper with potting soil. (The younger ones would ask, “What’s soil? Oh, the dirt!”) Then they popped in their seed, pushed in their marker, and set it on the tray and watered their seed.
One would think potting soil, water, and enthusiastic young hands would be a recipe for an epic mess. Anticipating this, I put a sheet under the bucket of soil and brought my cordless vacuum. In most cases, the sheet only caught a dusting of soil and the vacuum was hardly needed. In some instances we had to reassure kids that it’s OK to touch the soil to fill their pots. More than one newspaper pot got crushed as a student tried to scoop the soil. We have tidy kids here at West Union. (At least in the classroom.)
The students were engaged, helpful, and excited about the process. We got great questions, like from a first grader, “Won’t the newspaper disintegrate when it gets wet?” Exactly! The newspaper holds up just long enough to go into the soil with the plant where it will disintegrate right into the soil. I had some reports of the more vigorous plants pushing through that process a little too quickly. Those got repotted in cleaned cafeteria milk cartons.
Each time I visit the school, I have excited kiddos updating me on how their plant is doing. Some with good news, some with faces of concern, “Mine didn’t sprout.” We had a short round two, where those whose seeds that didn’t sprout could try again with something quick germinating like peas and lettuce.
Next up: Planting the starts outside and direct sowing. Lakshmi and are planning to begin the planting out process the week of April 29th. At the same time, we will be also doing direct sow plants like carrots, radishes, etc.