Saturday, June 28, 2014

Toddlers And Tomatoes

My favorite days are usually either spent with family, or spent in the garden.  If I can combine the two, it's a win-win situation.  Imagine how excited I am to have a project that combines my granddaughter, our garden AND recycling.  It's almost too much to contain. 
It seems I've finally found a use for the cereal bag liners I'd been saving.  That's a load off my mind because recently I pulled out the drawer and couldn't push it back into place.  All the bags I'd been saving had slipped behind the drawer, accumulating week by week until I had dozens stored between the drawer and the back of the cabinet.  On the plus side, I haven't bought a plastic bag for years, but what should a frugal garden grandma do with all those bags?  How about plant tomatoes with the youngest family gardener.
This project is so easy even a two year old can do it!
The items you need are:
cereal bags (or any other plastic bag)
hole punch (or another sharp item)
container to hold bags upright
potting soil
tomato seeds

                                   Punch drainage holes in the bottom of your bags

                      Roll down the sides of the bags until you have about 3-4 inches remaining

               Place your bags in your container so they are wedged together and will stay upright

Kids love to dig so put the soil in a bucket, hand them a shovel and let them fill the bags.  There's some great eye/hand coordination going on here

Hand your little one's some seeds to sow.  This is great hand and finger work.  Don't forget to throw in some counting...1, 2, 3 seeds in each bag

              Softly press the soil to make sure the seed makes contact with the seed

Everything needs water so give the soil and the seeds a big drink.  It might be a good idea for everyone to stop and rehydrate here.
If you want to get the seeds growing really fast, put a piece of plastic over the top and let your mini green house heat up, otherwise, just give it a week or so and you'll see the seedlings popping up. 

Tomato seedlings (just like our little ones) grow really fast.  When you see that the seedlings have two sets of real leaves, unfold a roll of your cereal bag, carefully sprinkle in an inch or so of soil, and let the seedlings continue to grow.  Tomato seedlings can grow roots out of their stems and adding soil will help you grow strong plants.  Continue growing in the bag until you run out of rolls, or you get tired of caring for a bag, whichever comes first.

                                         Wanted:  Space for Tomato Seedlings!
Dig a deep hole or find a good sized pot and fill with soil.  An old "trashcan" makes a wonderful pot. Use a scissor to cut down the side and bottom of the bag and remove the tomato plant.  Place your plant in the hole and remove any leaves below the soil line.  Refill the hole with soil, pressing firmly to get the stem and roots in contact with the soil.  Water well to help your plants acclimate to their new surroundings.

                              Get ready for your little gardener to love tomatoes.

                                               Be well and happy gardening!