This year I thought I would do something cool, fun and hands on with a little bit of nature involved - yes, we decided to plant some seeds and watch them grow!
After the successful crop of cucumber that I had last year, from 2 plants my mother gave me which just grew like crazy, I thought the kids would enjoy doing something like that again!
I'm not much of a gardener though. I have lemon grass in my backyard which survives because it's pretty hardy but it doesn't look that healthy! It's a little threadbare but it's been happily growing there for a while. I also had two basil plants last year, also from my mother. She also gave me a kaffir lime plant ages ago and it was in a pot for some years, but since it went into the ground, it grows in all bizarre directions. It doesn't fruit but the leaves are all I'm interested in anyway! I also have a small lemon plant - it's not a tree because it's so tiny but it does bear fruit!
We had someone come and do the lawn maintenance and they made me angry because their version of trimming the plants was to attack them with an edge trimmer or something. I came home one day to find my lemon grass cut down to the stumps, and I complained bitterly to hubby. The plant started to grow again after I kept watering it vigorously - only to find the next month when they came they beheaded it again! AND they also cut my basil plants down to the ground, obviously thinking they were weeds. I was devastated and angry and I told my husband these gardeners had to go! Since then I found someone else and he listens to me and knows where all my important plants are so he doesn't go hacking at them.
So I wanted some basil this year, so I went to the shops to investigate and they sell these things. Apparently you just add the seeds, water and put them in the sun and that's it!
The kids thought it was great digging into the potting mix to put into the containers. Then I put a few seeds in each. But there were heaps left inside the packet, so I shook it trying to get it out and a whole heap fell into J's pot. Oops. So I went back to E's pot and cut open the packet to get the stragglers out and she ended up with extras too.
We watered it and looked at them every day. It was a little disappointing when everyday the kids would look and there was nothing there.
However, one day, a shoot came out, and then the next, more shoots! Before long, there were heaps of seedlings and it was very exciting for everyone. We could see a difference from morning to night when we came home and we would water them and take them outside to get sun.
Then I tried to move a few seedlings from the takeaway containers into cleaned out paper coffee cups from the coffee shop at work. They were the same size as that kit in Bunnings so I thought it would be cool!
I killed some in the transfer but a few survived and were doing well. E's pot was getting so full - I didn't realise those couple of seeds I had dropped in was closer to 25 seeds because now she had a BUSH of basil seedlings. I bought her a flower pot that she painted herself and I planted all her basil in there. I tried to transplant some of the seedlings back into the original container but they all died! I didn't know transplanted seedlings aren't allowed to have sun...
Watching the seedlings grow has rejuvenated my interest in my herbs outside. I pruned my kaffir lime, and fertilized the lemon tree, and the struggling chives and spring onions that were out in the yard. I hope that I can keep it up! My mother also gave me some french beans which I planted in the garden - unfortunately the kids ripped a few leaves off as they tried to brush past the climbing frame I had put there for the beans, and the poor plants look a little sad. I think the hot days also helped do that to them... the temperatures here in Sydney yoyo'd from the low 20s to the high 30s and back down again, so my poor plants didn't get a break!
Anyway, every day the kids look forward to watering the plants and watching how big they're getting. I think it's a great family project, and it has been rewarding not just for the kids, but for me as well.