It might still feel a bit too cold and damp to be sowing seeds outdoors but there are plenty of things you can sow in pots on your windowsill at this time of year to get a head start on the growing season.
Some of the best seeds to sow with children this time of year, are lettuces/salad leaves, peppers, tomatoes, garden peas, calendula and nasturtiums.
All you need are a few seed trays or pots and some compost. Seed compost is great because it provides the best growing environment for seeds to germinate but most of these seeds are not really that fussy - that's why they are so good for children to try! You don't need to go out and invest in fancy pots or seed trays either. Any container will do, as long as it has some drainage holes in the base. Yoghurt pots, plastic fruit punnets, takeaway containers, pots made from paper, cardboard boxes or tubes are all good alternatives, and reusing something that you would have thrown away gives you extra 'green' points!
Seed sowing is a really good activity to promote good fine motor skills in children (finger dexterity/hand eye coordination) especially if you choose seeds that are a variety of shapes and sizes. Seed sowing is also a good mindfulness activity as it works best when you slow down and focus on the task in hand. Sowing seeds helps children to develop patience as the results are not instant or immediate and when you add in the learning involved, the science of how a plant grows, the maths involved in measuring, and the language skills needed to read or listen to instructions and talk about the activity - what's not to love!
So you've got some containers and you've got some compost - lets get sowing!
The principle for sowing is pretty much the same for most seeds:
Fill your container to the top with compost
Give it a couple of taps to get rid of any air pockets in the compost
Level and firm the top gently.
Sow smaller seeds (lettuce, peppers, tomatoes) by sprinkling or placing individually on the surface and covering with a thin layer of compost
Sow larger seeds by making a hole in the centre of the compost about 2 times the depth of the seed, pop the seed in and cover the seed with compost.
Give the seeds a water and keep them damp but not swimming!
I like to give tomato and pepper seeds an extra head start by popping a plastic cover over the pot. This helps to raise keep the temperature up and helps them to germinate. Again, you don't need a fancy propagator for this. I use the bottom or top cut off a plastic drinks bottle as a little mini cloche and it works really well!
Lettuce, pea, calendula and nasturtium seeds won't need this extra boost - they are pretty tough and fool proof to grow!
Oh, and don't forget to put in a label showing the name of the seeds and the date you sowed them. Lots of seeds look very similar when they germinate so it helps to know which seeds you sowed in which pot.
Happy Seed Sowing!!