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How a Seed Grows--Learning to garden

Updated on July 26, 2015
ecogranny profile image

An environmental enthusiast and activist her entire adult life, Kathryn shares her secrets to reducing waste and living greener.

Checking the root structure of one of our bean seedlings
Checking the root structure of one of our bean seedlings | Source

Learning how seeds grow with my granddaughter

Not long ago, my six-year-old granddaughter and I planted an indoor mini garden of green beans and micro-greens. We had a blast.

Here's what happened with our bean plants, from planting the seeds to watching them grow. But first, a little back story.

When we're out and about, this inquisitive one inevitably asks about the plants along the way. That's probably because, as her Granny Nanny, from the time she was gurgling in her roving bassinet, I showed her plants on our walks. Together, we ogled, touched and sniffed every brightly colored flower, oddly shaped leaf, or fragrant blossom.

"What's this, YayYay?", she asks, pointing out a flaming fuchsia bougainvillea. (She dubbed me YayYay when first learning to talk. It stuck.)

"How do you know that's a bract and not a flower?" Yes, she's already used to terms like bract.

She likes to cook with me too, and since we do mostly vegetarian, she's plenty curious that both the black nubbins we mash and put in our tacos and the long, skinny, green vegetables we crunch raw and sometimes eat steamed and laced with lemon butter, are called beans.

We've had plenty of fun dissecting the various forms our beans come in, I can tell you.

She likes to read books together, too, so naturally, I found a book right up our plant-loving alley. Using How a Seed Grows, (written by Helene J. Jordan, illustrated by Loretta Krupinski) as our guide, we planted our first indoor garden together.

How a Seed Grows (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1)
How a Seed Grows (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1)

If you've ever wanted to share your passion about gardens and gardening with a little one, or if a child in your life is asking tons of questions about where trees and plants and flowers and our food comes from, this beautifully illustrated project book is a wonderful place to start. I recommend it.

 

How a Seed Grows

The Easter bunny came a little early to Grandma's house this spring, with this book tucked next to chocolate bunnies and candy eggs.

The holiday over, it wasn't until school was out that we had enough time together to actually plant and grow our seeds and follow along with the story and its step-by-step science project.

What fun! Just take a look at the picture story of our project, below. We followed the book fairly closely. How did we go from boiled eggs to growing bean plants on our windowsill? Take a peek and see.

First, we had to choose our seeds and gather supplies and tools.


To begin this project, gather the supplies and tools you will need

This selection of materials is similar to what we used. I had everything but the seeds on hand.

I recommend buying local whenever possible, but I include these examples here for those who may not have access, close to home, to the tools and supplies they would prefer.

Seeds of Change is about seeds and so much more

We bought USDA certified organic bush bean seeds from our local hardware store, but if I had to buy online, I would pick Seeds of Change.

With their emphasis on preserving a diverse seed bank, growing and propagating seeds in organic soil, and keeping the seed gene pool available to all, Seeds of Change is in the business of protecting our food and plant security for generations to come.

Use certified organic potting soil whenever you can

Read the labels on your potting soil to be sure it is certified organic and is food safe! Dr. Earth's soil doesn't have a certification that I can find, but does seem to be well respected by organic gardeners. They have a web site that is worth a look-see.

Terracotta clay pots are both practical and beautiful

These are similar to one of the pots we used. I prefer terracotta clay indoors and in the garden, but we also had a plastic pot and a pot made of recycled materials on hand, so we experimented with all three.

Our project, in pictures

Click thumbnail to view full-size
We started with 12 organic bean seeds, which we planted in egg shells in an egg carton. We saved these 3 to plant in a garden. Next, how we did it.We saved the egg shells from six boiled eggs, sliced them in half and filled them with soil. Then we put them back in the carton.We planted one organic bush bean seed in each eggshell, watered them & put them in a sunny window. Five days later, several seeds had sprouted.By the fifth day, the first seed, which had sprouted on the third day, already had secondary leaves and was growing vigorously.Some sprouts were just poking their little heads above the ground. Some egg shells hadn't shown any sign of life at all.We dug up one of the egg shells that hadn't sprouted. It had lots of roots and was trying to push the seed casing away and aim for the light.We examined the roots and growing embryo under a magnifying glass. My granddaughter thought this was all "Way cool, YayYay!"Carefully, we pulled the largest plant from its egg shell and tickled the soil away so we could examine its root structure.We were surprised that it did not seem to have as many roots as the first plant, the one that had not yet emerged above ground.We looked at another plant that was above ground but hadn't quite unfolded yet. We decided not to disturb its roots too much so we could pot it on.We noticed one egg shell had a plant growing out the bottom. It had poked itself through a hole on the side of the shell and pushed the shell up!When we removed the shell from that one, we were surprised once more, this time to see a lot of funny egg-carton-colored fuzz growing on the roots.Despite the funny fuzzy stuff, which did not look like mold, the bean sprout was vigorous and ready to spring its leaves to the sun.We examined another unsprouted plant. It didn't have as many roots as the others, but it did have three fat ones and a "comb" of little ones.We didn't have a garden to plant our sprouts, so we decided to pot three of them on in small planters and watch them grow for awhile.We put some shards in the bottom of each pot for drainage, then added sterile, organic soil that also contains organic fertilizer, about half-way up.We lay our plant, egg-shell and all, in the soil and wiggled it a bit to give it a solid seat.We placed one of the now-empty egg shells over the top of the plant to keep it from getting too dirty when we added the rest of the soil.Then we filled the pot with soil, tamped it down firmly around the shell, and filled and tamped till we had firm soil around our little plant.We left 1/2 inch for watering from the top later. For this first watering, we set the pot in a bowl of filtered water and let it seep from the bottom.We didn't get all our seedlings right in the middle of the pot, but we knew they would grow all right if we gave them sunlight and water.Sadly, we had to compost our egg carton and the rest of our egg shells, used soil and seedlings. We're glad they will help other plants to grow.Three and a half weeks later, our plants are quite high but a little leggy. We think we've found a good garden home to adopt them.
We started with 12 organic bean seeds, which we planted in egg shells in an egg carton. We saved these 3 to plant in a garden. Next, how we did it.
We started with 12 organic bean seeds, which we planted in egg shells in an egg carton. We saved these 3 to plant in a garden. Next, how we did it. | Source
We saved the egg shells from six boiled eggs, sliced them in half and filled them with soil. Then we put them back in the carton.
We saved the egg shells from six boiled eggs, sliced them in half and filled them with soil. Then we put them back in the carton. | Source
We planted one organic bush bean seed in each eggshell, watered them & put them in a sunny window. Five days later, several seeds had sprouted.
We planted one organic bush bean seed in each eggshell, watered them & put them in a sunny window. Five days later, several seeds had sprouted. | Source
By the fifth day, the first seed, which had sprouted on the third day, already had secondary leaves and was growing vigorously.
By the fifth day, the first seed, which had sprouted on the third day, already had secondary leaves and was growing vigorously. | Source
Some sprouts were just poking their little heads above the ground. Some egg shells hadn't shown any sign of life at all.
Some sprouts were just poking their little heads above the ground. Some egg shells hadn't shown any sign of life at all. | Source
We dug up one of the egg shells that hadn't sprouted. It had lots of roots and was trying to push the seed casing away and aim for the light.
We dug up one of the egg shells that hadn't sprouted. It had lots of roots and was trying to push the seed casing away and aim for the light. | Source
We examined the roots and growing embryo under a magnifying glass. My granddaughter thought this was all "Way cool, YayYay!"
We examined the roots and growing embryo under a magnifying glass. My granddaughter thought this was all "Way cool, YayYay!" | Source
Carefully, we pulled the largest plant from its egg shell and tickled the soil away so we could examine its root structure.
Carefully, we pulled the largest plant from its egg shell and tickled the soil away so we could examine its root structure. | Source
We were surprised that it did not seem to have as many roots as the first plant, the one that had not yet emerged above ground.
We were surprised that it did not seem to have as many roots as the first plant, the one that had not yet emerged above ground. | Source
We looked at another plant that was above ground but hadn't quite unfolded yet. We decided not to disturb its roots too much so we could pot it on.
We looked at another plant that was above ground but hadn't quite unfolded yet. We decided not to disturb its roots too much so we could pot it on. | Source
We noticed one egg shell had a plant growing out the bottom. It had poked itself through a hole on the side of the shell and pushed the shell up!
We noticed one egg shell had a plant growing out the bottom. It had poked itself through a hole on the side of the shell and pushed the shell up! | Source
When we removed the shell from that one, we were surprised once more, this time to see a lot of funny egg-carton-colored fuzz growing on the roots.
When we removed the shell from that one, we were surprised once more, this time to see a lot of funny egg-carton-colored fuzz growing on the roots. | Source
Despite the funny fuzzy stuff, which did not look like mold, the bean sprout was vigorous and ready to spring its leaves to the sun.
Despite the funny fuzzy stuff, which did not look like mold, the bean sprout was vigorous and ready to spring its leaves to the sun. | Source
We examined another unsprouted plant. It didn't have as many roots as the others, but it did have three fat ones and a "comb" of little ones.
We examined another unsprouted plant. It didn't have as many roots as the others, but it did have three fat ones and a "comb" of little ones. | Source
We didn't have a garden to plant our sprouts, so we decided to pot three of them on in small planters and watch them grow for awhile.
We didn't have a garden to plant our sprouts, so we decided to pot three of them on in small planters and watch them grow for awhile. | Source
We put some shards in the bottom of each pot for drainage, then added sterile, organic soil that also contains organic fertilizer, about half-way up.
We put some shards in the bottom of each pot for drainage, then added sterile, organic soil that also contains organic fertilizer, about half-way up.
We lay our plant, egg-shell and all, in the soil and wiggled it a bit to give it a solid seat.
We lay our plant, egg-shell and all, in the soil and wiggled it a bit to give it a solid seat. | Source
We placed one of the now-empty egg shells over the top of the plant to keep it from getting too dirty when we added the rest of the soil.
We placed one of the now-empty egg shells over the top of the plant to keep it from getting too dirty when we added the rest of the soil. | Source
Then we filled the pot with soil, tamped it down firmly around the shell, and filled and tamped till we had firm soil around our little plant.
Then we filled the pot with soil, tamped it down firmly around the shell, and filled and tamped till we had firm soil around our little plant. | Source
We left 1/2 inch for watering from the top later. For this first watering, we set the pot in a bowl of filtered water and let it seep from the bottom.
We left 1/2 inch for watering from the top later. For this first watering, we set the pot in a bowl of filtered water and let it seep from the bottom. | Source
We didn't get all our seedlings right in the middle of the pot, but we knew they would grow all right if we gave them sunlight and water.
We didn't get all our seedlings right in the middle of the pot, but we knew they would grow all right if we gave them sunlight and water. | Source
Sadly, we had to compost our egg carton and the rest of our egg shells, used soil and seedlings. We're glad they will help other plants to grow.
Sadly, we had to compost our egg carton and the rest of our egg shells, used soil and seedlings. We're glad they will help other plants to grow. | Source
Three and a half weeks later, our plants are quite high but a little leggy. We think we've found a good garden home to adopt them.
Three and a half weeks later, our plants are quite high but a little leggy. We think we've found a good garden home to adopt them. | Source

Watch a seed germinate and grow

A man named Neil Bromhall captured bean seeds germinating underground, poking their heads above-ground, then raising their first leaves to the sunny sky. Follow this link to watch his amazing video: Epigeal germination climbing bean time lapse.

They're blooming!

Our bean plants blooming with lovely lavender blossoms
Our bean plants blooming with lovely lavender blossoms | Source

We think we've found a garden home for our three bush bean plants, a garden my granddaughter can visit and watch her beans grow, bloom and fruit.

She will burst with pride the day she eats a bean she grew herself. I know, because of her joy when she nibbled the first beet microgreens we grew together with our beans.

© 2014 Kathryn Grace

I'd love to hear your stories of gardening with little ones. Would this be a fun book and project to share with a child in your life?

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    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      Oh Lorelei, you say the nicest things. Thanks for bringing a little sunshine into MY day!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      Kathyrn your photos are beautiful. I love bringing a new plant to life. We garden organically and this article brought me such a smile today.

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you. What a sweet comment, and yes, Seeds of Change is fabulous.

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 2 years ago

      This was awesome! I love the thumbnails of your project and that you use Seeds of Change!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 3 years ago from United States

      What a really great way to make a book literally come to life!

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      Stopping back by to let you know that you and your granddaughter are the spotlight of my blog post today: http://reviewthispersonalreviews.blogspot.com/2014...

    • Corrinna-Johnson profile image

      Corrinna Johnson 3 years ago from BC, Canada

      How fun! What a great way to intertwine two awesome learning activities together, reading and gardening, into a fun project, while creating lots of wonderful memories for you and your granddaughter in the process!

    • MelanieKaren profile image

      Melanie Wilcox 3 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      a really sweet and beautiful story :)

    • profile image

      ColettaTeske 3 years ago

      What a wonderful project for you and your granddaughter! I imagine the two of you are having an awesome time watching your beans grow. I love it when a book can bring two people together!

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      @ecogranny: How I envy the two of your time together! You are creating memories that will last a lifetime!

    • ecogranny profile image
      Author

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      @Ruthi: Oh my goodness, Ruthi, it is such a pleasure and privilege to get to have time with her like that. She's in summer camp now, and we won't get as much time together over the next few weeks. I miss her!

    • profile image

      Ruthi 3 years ago

      I love that you shared the egg carton seed growing project in a slide show so that we can all see how the bean seeds grow. I'm impressed with your granddaughter's curiosity and thirst for learning! And impressed with you for the time you take to spend with her.

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