Growing a Garden – “The Gardener”

posted in: Learning | 29

Growing a Garden - Read + Play: starting seeds indoors for Earth Day!We’ve enjoyed having a vegetable garden the past few summers.  In fact, when the librarian read “Growing a Rainbow” the other day, I overheard my son arguing with another child. She said, “You can’t grow a rainbow!”

“Yes you can!” Toby exclaimed vehemently, “My mom and I grew a rainbow in our garden!”

That’s my boy.  So cute.

Anyways, that day, we checked out Sarah Stewart’s “The Gardener” (#afflink) …which is a Caldecott Honor Award book.  I loved the story, which was really brought to life with lovely illustrations by David Small.

If you want a synopsis, here you go:  Lydia Grace Finch goes to the city to stay with her uncle (presumably during the Depression, her dad lost his job). In her suitcase, she brings along seeds from her grandmother’s garden.  As the weeks progress, Lydia learns to bake bread in her uncle’s bakery, and grows plants everywhere — including a secret garden on the rooftop to surprise her uncle.  Ultimately, her dad gets a job and she goes back home, but not before becoming known as “the Gardener” by the city folk.

Here’s the cover of the book.  Again, I love the illustrations:
"The Gardener" by Sarah Stewart

So, when it came time to start our seeds for the vegetable garden, I knew this would be a fun post for the Earth Day Read and Play blog hop.  You can read about my plans for the garden this summer, which are quite ambitious.

But let’s not get sidetracked.

For this activity, we needed a few bags of seed starting dirt, some seed starting trays, a trowel, newspaper strips, and a seed pot maker #afflink.

Earlier, I had made plans for what we would be growing, and how many seeds would be needed.
Earlier, I had made plans for what we would be growing, and how many seeds would be needed.
We have a lot of vegetable seed packets, just like Lydia Grace
We have a lot of vegetable seed packets, just like Lydia Grace
He was very careful not to spill...
He was very careful not to spill…
I couldn't help but enjoy watching Toby work diligently.
I couldn’t help but enjoy watching Toby work diligently.
And smiling for the camera, of course.
And smiling for the camera, of course.
Here is a tray getting filled up with seed pots.
Here is a tray getting filled up with seed pots.
He worked hard for quite some time.
He worked hard for quite some time.
We went through both bags of dirt by the time it was all said and done.
We went through both bags of dirt by the time it was all said and done.
Toby filling up the newspaper cups with dirt.
Toby filling up the newspaper cups with dirt.
Here's the newspaper pot maker. It's awesome!
Here’s the newspaper pot maker. It’s awesome!

In case you’re wondering how the newspaper pots were formed, here’s a little photo tutorial (it uses the DIY seed pot maker #afflink).  Toby was able to make some of these on his own, but preferred to help me make them.  I will say that it was a great hands-on experience for him, even though he ultimately decided to have me make the pots so he could fill them with dirt.  The concept is really simple, so take a peek to see how the newspaper seed starting pots are formed!

You wrap a piece of newspaper around the pot maker, with about 1.5" overhang.
You wrap a piece of newspaper around the pot maker, with about 1.5″ overhang.
Here's the newspaper wrapped up.
Here’s the newspaper wrapped up.
Then you fold down the newspaper to form the bottom of the pot.
Then you fold down the newspaper to form the bottom of the pot.
And then you press the form together to crease the newspaper.
And then you press the form together to crease the newspaper.
Toby liked to make sure I twisted it back and forth each time.
Toby liked to make sure I twisted it back and forth each time.
Voila! Simply slide off the newspaper, which is now formed into a eco-friendly seed pot!
Voila! Simply slide off the newspaper, which is now formed into a eco-friendly seed pot!

And our next steps?

We’ll be watching the seeds sprout in our greenhouse over the next few days and weeks… and then the seedlings will get transplanted into our raised garden beds.  It really is a great extension activity that gets my toddler into the dirt and loving the nature around him.  Plus, it’s more fun to eat vegetables that you grow yourself!

Are you growing anything this year?  What’s your favorite plant to grow?  What summer vegetables would your dream garden have?  The only thing ours is missing is asparagus, because we don’t want to dedicate the space for a crop that takes 2+ years for a harvest.


earth-day-read-playEarth Day Read and Play Blog Hop

This post is part of a blog hop celebrating Earth Day!  Please check out the other posts below for some more fun book-based activities!  Book titles are in parentheses, linked to Amazon for your convenience (#afflinks used).

29 Responses

  1. […] The Gardener from BPhoto Art […]

  2. Sue Lively
    | Reply

    This sounds like a great book Betsy! I always enjoy reading the Caldecott winners. Your photos in this post are just beautiful by the way. Toby looks like he’s having so much fun! and what a great way for him to learn about food and our planet. Best, Sue

  3. AJ @ NutriFitMama
    | Reply

    Sounds like a great book! And LOOK at the happy smile on his face- he is having SO much fun! I love it!

  4. […] Artsy Momma :: One Time Through :: Bambini Travel ::  Words N Needles :: BPhotoArt […]

  5. Jeanine
    | Reply

    Wow this looks like tons of fun! And the smile, you can tell it is lots of fun! This book looks great too. I hadn’t heard of it until now, I will have to check it out!

  6. Terri Ramsey Beavers
    | Reply

    I love to read and I’m sure I’d love this book as I love to plant veggies, herbs and flowers. Thanks for sharing, your little one looks so happy to be helping and I’m sure he’ll be proud while watching the seeds grow.

  7. […] The Gardener | Growing a Garden […]

  8. Chubskulit Rose
    | Reply

    Awww what a happy gardener. It’s never too early to teach a child how to grow plants. Mine loves helping me do it.

  9. Liz Mays
    | Reply

    That sounds like such a fun project. It will be an awesome learning experience too! That’s a great way to recycle newspaper.

  10. CourtneyLynne
    | Reply

    Omg what a cutie!!!!! I always plant stuff with my princess for earth day! We always have so much doing it :):)

  11. Oh my goodness his face smiling is adorable! I really love this. We are trying to raise gardeners too so this is a nice read!

  12. michele d
    | Reply

    Planting with kids is always fun. They really enjoy planting then watching the seeds grow. Great idea!

  13. Adrienne
    | Reply

    What a fun activity. I’ve always wanted to grow my own garden. It looks like the little one had a blast with this activity!

  14. Carly
    | Reply

    That newspaper pot maker looks AWESOME! I plant seeds with my class every year but we use styrafoam cups….this would be WAY better!

  15. Tammilee Tips
    | Reply

    This is a great way to start a garden. I bet he will love to watch his seedlings grow up.

  16. Rebecca Swenor
    | Reply

    The Gardener sounds like an amazing book indeed. I love the idea of making the seedling cups out of paper and will be doing this with my niece’s kids this weekend. Thanks so much for sharing.

  17. Joanne T Ferguson
    | Reply

    What a fun post and your little one is such a cutie! It is always good to learn about things that grow in the garden together!

  18. Fi Ní Neachtáin
    | Reply

    Aww, how sweet is your little one planting his seedlings! I am so inspired to do this with my own son at the weekend 🙂

  19. Tanya
    | Reply

    This is such a great idea for a little kid. My little guy is not 2 just yet, but I’ll keep this in mind for when he gets a little older.

  20. HilLesha
    | Reply

    It has been ages since I have gardened after moving to an apartment a few years ago. How I miss it! My son and I are looking forward to the day we can have a garden that we can call our own again. 🙂

  21. heidi
    | Reply

    What a great way to teach your child about food, and how the earth works. Hope you have a great day!

  22. Aisha Kristine Chong
    | Reply

    Oh wow this is truly a wonderful activity to do with the kids.. educational too.

  23. Amanda @artsy_momma
    | Reply

    Coolest Mom EVER! He looks like he had such a great time 🙂

  24. I love this, Toby gets cuter every day, his smile is so contagious. Looks like you have a ton of seeds. How many raised beds do you have? I so want a greenhouse! Thanks for hosting Small Victories Sunday with us, pinned to our linkup board.

    • Betsy Finn
      | Reply

      We have 4 raised beds…each 4×8. Plus a retaining walled bed along the driveway that houses some perennials.

  25. I think my daughter will love that book! I wanted to raise a small garden at the rooftop of our home but I will need to have it installed with a roof.

    • Betsy Finn
      | Reply

      Oh…yes. getting one set up initially could be a lit of work!

  26. […] Plant some seeds and start a garden […]

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