We created this kit for kids so that they would have plenty of seeds to plant and play with. This kit contains:
12 peat pots
12 peat pellets
12 plant marker sticks
4 activity cards
1 seed information card
1 container Wikki Stix
1 packet each of 100 beet seeds, 50 pea seeds, 50 green bean seeds, 50 sunflower seeds, 30 pumpkin seeds, 30 bottle gourd seeds
1 seed box
1 plastic cup
Additional ways to plant and play with the contents of this kit:
Color and decorate the lid of the top of the seed box. The box lid can be used as a tray to lay the seeds out when playing. Seeds, activity sheets, and Wikki Stix can all be stored in the seed box.
Use the cotton sheet in the seed box and the clear plastic cup to plant a seed and watch the seed germinate.
Make a seed guessing box using the shipping box. Using the outline of the circles on the shipping box, carefully cut out the circles using a box knife or scissors. Ask an adult for help with the cutting. One person can put their hands through the holes, and the other person can hand them a seed. The person with their hands in the box will try to guess what seed it is based on feeling the shape and texture of the seed.
Use the crinkle paper used for packaging to make seed starter pots.
Decorate the plant markers. You can use markers, paint, chalkboard paint and chalk, WikkiStix, glitter glue... be creative!
Meet the seeds in the kit:
Pea PLS 534 Organic
This is an English shelling pea. This pea has double pods that fill well with 8 to 9 high quality peas in each. Vines can stretch and grow up to 20 to 22 inches tall.
Growing Tips: Space plants 2 to 3 inches apart in full sun.
When to pick the peas: Peas should be ready to pick in about 3 weeks after the flowers appear. Lightly press on the pods to see if the peas are fully matured.
Bean Antiqua Organic
Antiqua is a vigorous dwarf French bean. They are packed with sweet, succulent goodness. These green beans grow on a dark green bush that can reach 2 feet tall.
Growing Tips: Space plants 2 to 3 inches apart in full sun.
When to pick the green beans: Pick the green beans when they are about 5.5" long. Continuously pick the beans so that the plant will produce more. The more you pick, the more you get! Once the beans have stopped producing, you can work the plants back into the soil as it will provide nutrients for next year's garden.
Gray Stripe Sunflower
If you love sunflower seeds, this is the sunflower to plant as it will give you a whopper of a crop of seeds. The head of the sunflower can measure up to 14 inches across. The seeds have a high oil content which makes them great for roasting.
The sunflower was a common crop among Native American Indian tribes throughout North America. The sunflower seed was ground and pounded into flour to make cake, mush, or bread. Some tribes mixed the sunflower flour with other vegetables to eat. The seed was also cracked and eaten as a snack.
Growing Tips: This is an easy to grow flower and is low maintenance once established.
When to pick the sunflower seeds: Wait until the seeds are plump and developed. You will see the flower petals begin to dry and fall off. The back of the flower head will turn from green to yellow to brown. If you have a lot of birds where you live, you can cut off the sunflower head when the the back of the head turns from green to yellow, then you can hang the head to dry. This will help you to get more seeds than the birds do!
After collecting the seeds, you can eat them right away, roast them with a little salt, or save some to plant for next season. Of course, you can also put some out for your bird friends to munch on too!
Roasting Sunflower Seeds: Wash 1 cup of raw sunflower seeds with water using a strainer. Lay seeds out on a baking sheet. Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of salt (more or less to your liking) on the seeds. Bake in 400 degree oven for just a few minutes. They will roast quickly because they aren't soaked through with water.
Fun Fact: When a sunflower is growing, it tilts it's head during the day to follow the sun. The tracking of the sun in young sunflower heads is called heliotropism. The sunflower stops tracking the sun when it begins blooming and is mature, at which point it generally faces east.
Fun Fact: Evidence has been found of sunflowers being cultivated in Arizona and New Mexico around 3000 BC.
Small Sugar Pumpkin
Small Sugar Pumpkins are a popular heirloom variety. The pumpkin is small, round, and weighs about 7 pounds. The flesh is fine-grained, sweet, stringless, and yellow-orange in color. Small Sugar Pumpkins are highly preferred for making pumpkin pies.
Growing Tips: Plant after danger of frost. Keep soil moist at all times. Avoid getting the leaves on the vines wet because this can cause diseases. When the vines start to grow, you can put a layer of mulch between the soil and vines to help conserve moisture in the soil and to control weeds. The layer of mulch will also provide a good resting place for the pumpkins.
When to pick the pumpkin: You can harvest the pumpkins as soon as the stem begins to dry and the skin is too hard to be pierced with your fingernail.
Beet Chioggia Guardsmark Organic
Chioggia beet is an heirloom beet that came from Italy and is known as the "bullseye" beet or "candy-cane stripped" beet because of the interior design and appearance. Beets are 2 to 3 inches in diameter and have a sweet and mild flavor.
Growing Tips: Plant in loose, rich and well-drained soil. Space seedlings at 4 inches apart. You can plant a few seedlings now and again in 3 weeks so you have a good supply of beets.
When to pick the beets: Gently push soil away to look at the top of the beet to gauge its size. Dig up the beets when they are 2 to 3 inches in diameter. Harvest the leaves at the same time because they are good to eat also!
Cooking beet leaves: Harvest two bunches of beet leaves and cut off the stems. Cook the leaves in a large uncovered pot of boiling water for about 2 minutes, until leaves are tender. Drain the leaves using a colander, then immediately place the greens in ice water for a couple minutes to stop the cooking process. Once cooled, dry the greens and chop coarse.
Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add greens and stir until mixed thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Bottle gourds have been around for centuries. They were used as a container, fishing floats, bottles, and musical instruments.
Growing Tips: Keep soil evenly moist. When vines start to appear, provide a trellis for the vines to crawl up or mulch on top of the soil to keep the gourds from getting too wet. Too much moisture will weaken the shell, distort the shape, and cause rotting. The vines can spread 96 to 144 inches.
When to pick the bottle gourds: Pick the bottle gourds when the vine dies back and the stems on the gourd turn brown and are dry. Be sure to cut a minimum of 2 inches on the stem of the gourd when cutting from the vine. To dry the gourds, place them in a warm, dry location on a screen so that every side of the gourd has good circulation. You can also hang the gourds by their stems to dry. If the gourd begins to rot and shrivel up, throw it away. Surface mold IS normal! Don't worry, it's part of the drying process and you can soak the gourd in warm water and soap to scrub the shell clean once it is dry. Bottle gourds may take a couple of months or more to dry, depending on the size. When the gourd is completely dry, it will be extremely lightweight and the seeds will rattle inside.
After the bottle gourds are dry, you can use them for crafts. Bottle gourds make excellent birdhouses, musical instruments, and are a great surface to paint on.
To make a gourd birdhouse:
1. Determine what bird you want to attract. Birds have different needs for the size of the entrance hole and space needed for the nest. Here are some sample sizes:
House Wren: Chickadee: Downy Woodpecker: Bluebird:
Gourd Size: 6" Gourd Size: 8" Gourd Size: 8" Gourd Size: 8"
Hole Size: 1" Hole Size: 1 1/8" Hole Size: 1 1/4" Hole Size: 1 1/2"
2. Using a steel wool pad, remove the excess layer of skin on the outside of the dried gourd.
3. Using a pencil make a point in the center of the gourd. Be sure the hole is right in the center, if it faces downward, the baby birds could fall out, and if the angle is too far up, the birds will have trouble entering. Using a hole drill bit, drill the appropriate size hole (depending on the bird you want to attract) in the spot that you marked.
4. Dig out as much of the seeds and dried pulp on the inside of the gourd as possible. A spoon and/or knife will work well for this job.
5. With a 5/16" drill bit, drill 3-4 holes in the bottom of the gourd to act as drainage holes.
6. Use the same drill bit (5/16") to drill two holes opposite each other at the top of the gourd. Thread twine, thin rope or wire through the two holes to hang it from a tree.
7. You can decorate the gourd with paints or leave it natural. Keep a lookout for what birds make this their new home!