Gardening projects for kids without a garden

sarah121 Cornwall - United KingdomPosts: 128 ✭✭✭

I'm reaching out to the community for ideas for my nephew (aged 9) who is currently in lock-down in a flat in the suburbs outside London. He usually spends most of his outdoor time with his grandparents who have a large garden, but while this horrible situation continues, he's unable to visit them (they are elderly) and only has access to a window box on the balcony of his flat.

My sister in law is going around the twist trying to home school him while also continuing to work at her job. She's asked me if I can put together an herbal / vegetable project for him, and so I'm trying to research available resources which I aim to share here on this thread.

My nephew likes strawberries and she would like him to have a go at growing something he can eat and enjoy. As an herbalist, I'd also like to begin to introduce him to some basic culinary plants he can grow from seed and potentially make medicines with.

Although this is my area of expertise, I have no children of my own and am having difficulty pitching the right level for his age, whilst also trying to make it fun. (I don't want to be the boring auntie!)

I was wondering if anyone had any ideas, links to useful educational resources (preferably free,) or is already doing something similar with their own children that they wouldn't mind sharing? In the meantime I'm going to undertake my own research about what's available here in the UK and will post a library of findings to share with everyone here.

Please help! If we pool our ideas we could potentially create a good home schooling resource for our kids at this difficult time.


  • Jens the Beekeeper
    Jens the Beekeeper Moderator EuropePosts: 640 admin

    How about growing egg hats? Have him put some soil in an empty egg from breakfast after he drew a face on the shell and then he can seed cress or radish or basil and this will grow into the hair until Easter.

    Another one could be growing salad flats indoors. You can harvest them as baby leaf. A good video will be this one

    Or have him grow kitchen scraps like spring onion or carrot tops into new Veg. Well the carrots will only be good for the greens as pesto but there are plenty other scraps to regrow.

    Or plant a bean in a glas jar with the bean directly at the glas. This way he can watch and document the sprouting and growth of the bean.

  • torey
    torey Moderator Posts: 4,403 admin


    There is another thread on homeschooling started by @LaurieLovesLearning that might have some suggestions for you.

    How about sprouts? Many kinds that he could grow.

    Mint is interesting to watch sprout from just a stalk placed in water. Then he will have a mint plant to munch on and learn about its benefits.

    There are kits at garden centres that allow you to plant mini herb gardens in your home.

    These are slow growers so he won't get the satisfaction of something to eat right away but it is fun growing a plant from something just eaten. This site is for tree fruits as well as melons, citrus, mango, etc: This one is for pineapple:

    Have you heard of Herb Fairies? By the lovely people at Learning Herbs. Not free but it is a very good program. They also have a board game that can be purchased separately.

  • torey
    torey Moderator Posts: 4,403 admin

    @Marjory Wildcraft Maybe this might be an idea for another course for TGN. Getting kids started with herbs.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 6,009 admin

    @sarah121 Yes, please check out the resources that I posted! I want them to be of use to everyone. There are links to ideas to gardening (& more) on it.

    I can't link to the thread for some reason. But if you go to Personal Journals and look for Homeschooling Help, you should find a few gardening ideas within the resources listed.

    Just for fun, see if you can get some pictures of what he chooses to do so that we can all share in encouraging him!

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Central PaPosts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    Alpine strawberries are pretty easy to start from seed and do relatively well as house plants. They will live longer if you eventually take them outside. In case your not familiar with them, the fruit they produce is quite small, about blueberry sized, but they produce throughout the season and are very flavorful. I have started them from a seed a few times, and if memory serves me correctly, they produced the first year. Here's one of the varieties I've grown( though I got my seed elsewhere)

    In my experience, you'll never get a big harvest, but they are fun to nibble, and I think a child would enjoy them.

  • sarah121
    sarah121 Cornwall - United KingdomPosts: 128 ✭✭✭

    @blevinandwomba thank you so much for responding. I'll purchase some seeds and give it a go.

  • sarah121
    sarah121 Cornwall - United KingdomPosts: 128 ✭✭✭

    @Marjory Wildcraft I currently run a Junior Herbalist course which lasts for a full year. This way the kids have a monthly project and get to see how the landscape changes over the seasons. Normally this is run outdoors, but with the current situation I'm looking into ways to make this accessible online. If you're interested in working on this as a potential project for the grow network Marjory, I'd be happy to talk about ways this could be rolled out? I've attached my flyer so you can have a better idea of what it involves, but I'd be happy to talk further if you feel this might be of interest to the community. Be well.

  • sarah121
    sarah121 Cornwall - United KingdomPosts: 128 ✭✭✭
    edited April 2020

    @torey @LaurieLovesLearning thank you for your valuable suggestions. I'll be sure to check out the thread. I appreciate all your comments and ideas!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 6,009 admin
    edited April 2020

    Here are some resources that I got in my inbox today. Click on the various links to see what might be of use to you. Don't forget to check the bottom of the page for more. There are lessons, nature journaling pages and more, all free. I could see the journaling pages being great to use for recording plant or herbal information. There is a bible component to some of the material.

    I want to add to check out another resource that I will post in the homeschool help thread. We have used free editable printables from homeschoolshare to make lap books in the past, and we found that it can be a lot of fun to use these. It could fit nicely into learning about gardening!

  • Leediafastje
    Leediafastje WA State, Olympic Mtns, Zone 8Posts: 88 ✭✭✭

    My granddaughter loves growing green onions in the window. She fills a clear jar with marbles, then inserts the bottom 2 inches of the green onion plant. Cover the marbles with water and you'll have new onions growing within 24 hrs. Yumm! And, you get 2 to 3 bunches from the one bunch you paid for.

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 978 admin

    @sarah121, my kids germinated a "seed necklace" as part of their science lessons at school, and it was pretty fun. It uses very common materials, so might be possible/worth looking into right now. Here's a link describing the project:

    Good luck!

  • Merin Porter
    Merin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 978 admin

    I second the idea of regrowing kitchen scraps. It's a neat project for so many reasons! You might check out the article we just posted about it, here:

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 6,009 admin

    @sarah121 Perhaps get him to start a plant from "garbage." You could start a seed from fruit that would normally be thrown away. Avocado, mango, cherry, orange, apple, even spices from the spice cabinet.

    There are lots of youtube videos, and I have a book called, "Don't Throw it, Grow it!" I think it is by Storey Publishing.

    I enjoy doing this and seeing plants that aren't common to my area, and I don't see why it would be any different for a 9 year old. It is exciting watching it germinate & seeing what type of plant it becomes. Most can make great houseplants...some edible, and some just for show.

  • sarah121
    sarah121 Cornwall - United KingdomPosts: 128 ✭✭✭

    I look forward to working with you both on this. I hope we can connect and talk more about this at some point in the week!

  • Momma Mo
    Momma Mo Posts: 138 ✭✭✭

    I still like beans sandwiched between a glass and wet paper towels. You can watch the beans sprout and grow.

  • HearthForYou
    HearthForYou Southern CaliforniaPosts: 52 ✭✭✭

    Hi @sarah121 There are some neat ideas here. I'm curious if your nephew ended up growing something. :)

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