Give it up for Pinterest y’all! While poking around their boards recently I came across a this great project, perfectly suited for my kids or any kid really! Spring brings with it many fabulous opportunities to teach children about nature and recycling. This project is the perfect culmination of the two in a fun and exciting way, with their hands right in it! We’ve been planting all sorts of things for Spring, but the kids couldn’t be more excited about the Nasturtiums! From beginning to end, this simple project is easy to do. Creating little masterpieces they can delight in watching grow. An ideal spring project!
Step 1: Shredding Newspaper.
First things first. Acquire some newspaper, I saved my day old from the recycling bin and ripped them into small strips, much like you do when making paper mache. Although this worked fine, next time I will just go ahead and use the shredder. My way was too time consuming, and I think the next step would have been easier had I done that first.
Step 2: Blend baby, blend..
Add some water and just like the title says, blend. The goal is to turn it into pulp. Despite the prowess of my blender, I still had to stop to stir it occasionally. I *feel* that if the paper had been shredded rather than in strips, this process would have gone much faster.
Step 3: Drain the goo!
When thoroughly mixed drain to remove any excess water. The less water involved the faster your paper pulp pots will dry.
Step 4: Shape your pots.
Muffin trays work great for starter seedlings. We used a regular muffin tray to make ours. Place a glob in each muffin spot, and then get squishing. This was my kids favorite part. They love the ewwy gooey stuff! We added petals from some spring pansies to the bottom of ours for fun. The kids enjoyed that part too, although we found when the cups were filled with soil and damp from watering the petals broke down, or in some cases simply fell off.
Step 5: Hurry up and wait!
I left the muffin tray out on the counter, and found it was still really damp the next morning. Some recommend throwing them in the oven, but I decided to stay simple and place them in front of an air vent for a day. This worked beautifully. The following morning we had wonderful little seedling pots, decorated in pansy petals. They were lovely.
This is the point where I should be showing off the finished pots. We could all “ohhh” and “ahhh” together, and I would be giddy. I vividly recall taking those photo’s, yet they are no where to be found on my computer. I know, because I’ve spent much of my day searching for them. Moving forward when I do come across the photo’s, I’ll update this post at that time.
Step 6: Get planting!
We decided to plant Nasturtiums in our paper pulp pots! Nasturtiums are great to use when working with kids. They are big seeds and are very easy to manage, even with the littlest of fingers. The kids also like that the plant has beautiful flowers that are edible. Want to get your kid to eat salad? Throw some nasturtium flowers in there! Nasturtiums bloom from early summer straight through to fall. They fabulously fill those neglected corners of part sun/shade in our gardens, and add a splash of colour to empty holes in the vegetable garden. Nasturtiums do not like being transplanted, so using these pulp pots to start the seedlings inside is an ideal way to get an early start on the season. When the time comes these pots get planted directly into the garden. No transferring required.
Once we decided what we were planting we had to get started. We moistened our starter soil and gave it a good mix before filling our paper pulp pots. Then we poked a couple of holes in each with a small stick, preparing the soil for the seeds. Almost ready, now it was time to scarify our seeds. I took a tip from Fern over at Life on the Balcony and used nail clippers to snip the corner of my seed. Fast, easy, and it works great!
The kids loved this part! Mostly because they enjoyed the name. Scarification! In the minds of my children, this meant they had to scare the seeds. So that’s what they did. I clipped, while they made goofy faces and strange noises. Indeed, those seeds must have been terrified!
Once planted we tucked the pots into a plastic dome container I recycled. This gave the plants the greenhouse effect they needed to stay warm and happy while they germinated. Keep the seedlings moist, but be careful not to over water.
Step 7: The Waiting Game.
It never takes long with nasturtiums. They spring up quick and easily anywhere from a few days to a week. This was much too long for my kids. Everyday they would poke the container waiting with heavy anticipation, so that moment that they do finally break through the soil becomes simply legendary. There was dancing and singing! The kids were mighty impressed with themselves.
Step 8: Protection from the Elements.
It is still too early to be planting annuals outside, but it won’t be long now. Until then make sure to keep the seedling in a protected space, preferably in a south facing window. In my house we have to protect the plants from the cats, but be careful, the kids can be just as destructive! Over watering and poor light are the biggest reason seedling fail, so keep that watering can away from your well intentioned helper between watering.
Even without flowers nasturtiums are beautiful! The kids are eager to get these seedling out into the garden. Although our last frost date in the Vancouver area was March 28th, I likely wont put these out for at least another week or two.
The kids are excited, and what could be better?!