Seed Starting with Kids

(Photo by Anna Shvets,


By Eri Matsumura | Fort Collins Nursery


The growing season is just around the corner, and April is the perfect time to start prepping for what’s to grow in our vegetable gardens. Here in Northern Colorado, many plants need to be started indoors before planting outside. Seed starting is pretty simple; all you need is a container, some dirt, water, and of course your seeds of choice. This activity is a fun and accessible way to introduce young ones into the gardening process and for them to learn about how plants grow!

Prep the Container

There are multiple options for containers, reusing what you may already have at home. Kids will discover all kinds of great options in your recycling, including egg cartons, plastic strawberry containers, yogurt cups, and more. Prep your containers by rinsing them clean. Adults can help poke holes for drainage in the bottom of the containers using a skewer or any other sharp utensil. You can skip this step if you are using berry containers.

Play with Dirt

Choose good quality potting soil or a seed starting mix to ensure optimal success for our seedlings. Use spoons or little hands to fill up the containers, leaving some room below the rim so the soil won’t spill over.

Plant Your Seeds and Water

Sow your seeds by following the directions on the back of the seed pack. Create little holes in the dirt with your fingers with proper spacing, and then tuck the seeds in. If you are using an egg carton, then you can treat them like cells and sow one seed in each cell. Once the seeds are all planted, you’ll want to water them in. Use a spray bottle to evenly wet the soil without flooding them.

(Photo by Ron Lach,

Watch Them Grow!

Once you’ve planted and watered the seeds, cover the container to create a humid environment. This can be achieved with a drape of cling wrap, or by just closing the lid on the berry container. Keeping the seeds damp is a priority for germination, so be sure to assign a child the task of misting them every day or so. Place the containers in a sunny spot by a window, preferably at a height where the littles can keep an eye on them and watch them grow.

Plant Outside

In northern Colorado, our last frost is typically around May 15th. When the night temperatures are consistently over 45 degrees, it’s safe to take our seedlings outside. By now, they should have grown to be a few inches tall. Gently scoop out the plant and place it into a pot or garden bed. If you use a cardboard egg carton, you can tear the cells apart from each other and plant them directly into the soil, as the cardboard will decompose. Keep in mind that you do not need a yard to have a vegetable garden – lots of vegetables and herbs can be grown in containers on a porch or balcony. Happy planting!

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