Spring is around the corner but it’s still too chilly to start growing outdoors (Here in Scotland anyway)
So, why not bring the gardening indoors and enjoy a fun growing activity with your kids while outside is still in the grips of winter??
Lettuce leaves are super easy to grow and are small enough to grow on a windowsill.
It is possible to have a full years worth of salad from your own tiny windowsill.
Lettuce in particular is a great plant to start growing with kids as it grows super quick so your kids don’t have to wait months to taste the fruits of their labour.
What do you need to grow lettuce
Don’t panich here, there is a lot of fancy accessories you can buy like heat pads which are more for hot weather vegetables like peppers or mini propagators.
I do love this one and use it regularly for other seeds but you don’t actually need one for lettuce.
- A simple container- holes in the bottom
- Multipurpose conpost
- Pack of lettuce seeds
You can use a watering can if you have one.
Little kids love nothing better than watering their pots (repeatedly so you may have to hide it.
Or you can make your own like this below.
We like to reuse left over plastic containers like these margarine tubs, pot noodle containers are great too.
- Simply make holes in the bottom. Around a dozen holes should be good.
Let the kids pic their own container and decorate it how they like.
- Fill the containers up leaving a good gap from the top.
Depending on the age of your little ones you may want to use a tray or do this outdoors.
My little AJ prefers to use a kids trowel, so he can spoon in the compost.
How to grow lettuce with kids
- Use another pot to gently press the compost so you have a level surface flat.
- Take your chosen seeds and teach your little one to use their pinchy fingers and sprinkle the seeds over the top of the compost.
We like to use red and green lettuce for a pretty colourful display. Freckles is a beautiful lettuce too.
There is so much more you can grow on your windowsill with kids. Check out this post on growing a beautiful garden for free.
- Get them to spinkle lightly, around 1 seed per cm squared is a good rule. If your kids are little the can pick up seeds individually.
- You can make this game with some tweezers for older kids too. Make it fun.
- Now gently cover the seeds with 1 cm of compost. And press down again.
- Gently water your containers with luke warm water (not hot and not cold)
You’re aiming to make sure you water enough to make sure the soil is damp but not flooded and washing away your seeds.
All that’s left to do is place your containers on a sunny windowsill and water gently.
If you don’t have space on your windowsil for growing try this technique for growing sowing outside in mini containers.
Use containers like milk jugs to provide a protective environment for your seeds.
Simply sit them somewhere sheltered
How often does lettuce need to be watered?
As your seedlings grow, just keep the compost moist but not wet and they will continue to flourish.
Around once a week is fine but use the finger test. If the soil feels dry to your finger popped into the side of the pot then you will need to water. If not, don’t!
How does gardening help a child’s development?
Gardening with children provides opportunities for self developement.
- Planting seeds is one of the best gardening activities for kids.
- Encouraging fine motor skills from sowing seeds, picking fruit etc
- Physical developement from digging and running around.
- Developes hand eye coordination
It’s a great teaching tool too as it can be used to teach counting, sizes, shpes and colours .
How long does it take to grow lettuce
Lettuce grows fairly quickly and you should be able to start picking the biggest leaves within four weeks.
You can simply let the kids use scissors to chop off the leaves a few centimetres from the bottom of rhe plant, as and when you need them. The plants then continue to grow.
Or, you can remove the seedlings to a larger container or raised bed to continue growing larger and for a full ‘head’ of lettuce that you would harvest in one go like you see at the store.
Kids love to have full control over the whole process.
- Choosing the seeds
- Sprinkling them
- Measuring as they grow
- And finally harvesting. Kids are so much more likely to eat something they have grown and cared for themselves.
Growing seeds this way is a wonderful way to open that conversation with kids about food and it’s benefits to us. Get them trying new colours, textures and tastes.
What else can we grow?
Growing lettuce with my 3 years old led to us experimenting with other leaves. We made a wonderful yogurt pot caterpiller.
The kids decorated it to look like a caterpiller and in each pot we sowed difference leaves. Coriander, cress, peashoots, red lettuce, red kale, spinach and chard.
I can’t wait to see how it looks once its sprouted.
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