Children are not normally particularly blessed with patience, as we all know. And this fact can make the act of planting seeds and waiting weeks for them to germinate a real sticking point, when trying to get them into gardening.
There are some seeds though that can be relied on that break through the soil in just a few days, under the right circumstances. Here we have showcased a few to get you and your kids started early in the garden and the world of horticulture. They might not be flowering straight away, but their quick appearance will go a long way to keeping them interested.
There are a huge variety of pumpkins to choose from, all varying in size, appearance and flavour. Many of the larger varieties however are best for carving at Halloween as their taste can be quite bitter.
The seeds themselves are about 2 – 3cm. They can be planted in small pots of compost and transplanted outdoors in 4 weeks, or directly outside in the earth. If you are sowing outdoors it is advisable to protect the pumpkins with a cloche and you can make your own out of a cut off plastic drinks bottle.
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Once the dark green sprouts break through the surface the pumpkin plants will grow rapidly each day until you have 2 large oval leaves. When the plants start to flower (this is where the pumpkin itself should start to grow from), long tendrils will appear from the stems that will cling to pretty much anything.
Protect from animals and keep the growing pumpkins off wet ground where possible. You can also save the pumpkin seeds for eating and there are many recipes available for roasting and using them in winter salads.
When we think of sunflowers we normally visualise the ones that get to 6 or 7 feet tall with big yellow smiling faces. There are actually a number of varieties, including the dwarf sunflowers, which also have a different colour petals of yellow, orange and red.
Sunflowers are normally fine to be planted directly into the soil outdoors or in smaller pots. If you are using pots you can normally transplant the sunflowers in about 4 weeks from germination. When they are in their final location in the garden, make sure it’s a sunny spot.
Some of the taller varieties will need help standing up. A length of cane inserted deep into the ground next to the sunflower is perfect, carefully securing it with some garden twine. Much like tomato plants, many gardeners plant too many seeds and you are left with a field of them in no time at all! Sunflowers actually make lovely cut flowers too. And like pumpkins, the seeds that are produced from the new plant a great to eat.
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This simple little salad accompaniment has been a popular plant for children to grow for years. This has been mainly due to the speed in which it germinates, as well as its ability to grow on unlikely surfaces like moist kitchen paper or cotton wool. And many grow ups will still remember growing cress seeds inside an empty egg shell!
You can line a shallow dish with kitchen paper and add a little water – just enough to cover the surface. Then sprinkle your cress seeds on the top. Within a couple of days the seeds will start to change colour and green shoots will appear.
Quite often the cress is used within a week in salads and on top of most meals. You can however, leave the cress to grow for longer if you sow the seeds on to soil in the garden or container. The result is a strong mustard taste!
We hope that these quick germinating seeds have inspired you and your kids to start gardening together. And do let us know if you think of any more fast growing plants.