Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Child planting seeds in the Children's Garden
 Photo by Greta Pemberton
Children’s Garden from Home

Hello Children’s Garden Families and Friends, 

If we were in the Children’s Garden together, now would be the time to plant out the tiny seeds that will grow into colorful Swiss chard, curly kale, and elegant sunflowers. Almost all of our Children’s Garden plants start from seeds.

This week, Emily and Ashley have recorded a video class on Zoom to align with these seed activities. Designed for our Trees & Saplings and Seeds students (ages 26), it's full of songs, sensory explorations, and a seeding demonstration. Enjoy!
Let’s Investigate: Seed Sort
(Ages 25, 10 minutes)

Our littlest gardeners can add this Seed Sort PDF into their garden journals to practice sorting seeds based on color, size, texture, and shape. If you do not have a printer for the sorting guide, grab a muffin tin and gather dried seeds and beans from your cupboard to sort by category. Can you sort them from lightest to darkest, or smallest to largest? Can you imagine what all your seeds will grow into? 

Note: If you want to continue creating with the seeds you’ve sorted, arrange your seeds into a design and glue onto cardboard to make a seed mosaic.
cutting top off egg carton
egg carton with soil
planting seeds in egg carton with soil
egg carton planted with seeds on a windowsill
 Photos by Ellen McCarthy
Let's Grow: Starting Seeds at Home
(All Ages, 30 minutes) 
As the weather warms, this is the perfect time to start summer crops like tomatoes, basil, and marigolds because these seeds will thrive in the summer heat. Most hardware stores sell seed packets, but if you do not have access, try experimenting with the seeds you find in your kitchen. Here’s a video of Greta and her son Mac experimenting with seeds from their pantry and spice cabinet. Follow along with the instructions below to start your own small plants from home.  
Egg carton, scissors, soil, seeds, water 
Select your seeds. Take an egg carton and cut off the flat top. The egg cups become the perfect seed-starting container while the flat top you removed will become the tray in which you set the egg carton. 
Moisten the soil and add it to the egg carton. Make small holes in the soil to add your seeds. Remember, the smaller the seed, the shallower your hole needs to be. A good rule of thumb is that your hole should be about twice the size of your seed’s width. If you're planting a new packet of seeds, only put about 1–2 seeds in each hole. If you're experimenting with seeds from your kitchen, you can plant 3–4 per hole. Lightly cover with soil. 

Sprinkle your tray with water and put it in a sunny window. Continue to water your seeds whenever the soil starts to look dry (generally once every day) and keep it near the sunlight. If you see tiny green plant parts poking through the soil, your seeds have germinated! Add a chart into your garden journal to document how the seeds change from week to week.
seed packet, small plastic bag, paper towel, string
seeds on a paper towel
plastic bag containing paper towel and seeds
sprouted seeds in a seed necklace
 Photos by Ellen McCarthy
Let’s Create: Living Seed Necklaces
(Ages 3–10, 15 minutes) 

If you cannot access soil, no problem! This living necklace experiment allows you to investigate plant germination with kitchen items. Use your necklace as a new fashion statement or tape it to a window to jumpstart germination. 

Cotton ball or piece of paper towel, plastic zip-top baggie, water, dried seeds from the pantry like lima beans or popcorn, yarn, magnifying glass (not required)  
Soak a cotton ball or paper towel in water. Ring out excess water so that the paper towel is moist but not drenched. Place your seed in the center of the moist paper towel, slide it into a baggie, and seal it. Punch a hole in the top of the baggie and string some yarn through. Tie it off to create a living necklace.  
What does your seed need to germinate (begin to grow)? Be sure to leave your seed baggie hanging in a sunny window and continue to spray the paper towel with water every few days. Or, put it on as a necklace and take it for a walk through the neighborhood on a sunny day! After a few days, you should see your seed start to germinate. Once your seeds germinate, bury them in soil and water daily to see if they will continue to grow. 
If you are interested in taking a closer look at the parts of a seed, place a handful of different types of dried beans in a large bowl of water overnight. You can dissect the soft, enlarged seeds and use a magnifying glass and this diagram to identify the parts of a baby plant inside each seed.  
ingredients for granola (oats, seeds, honey, spices)
a bowl of oats
baked granola on a cookie sheet
finished granola in a bowl
Photos by Ellen McCarthy
Let’s Cook: Seedy Granola 
All ages with adult supervision, 25 minutes
Kids in the Children’s Garden love munching on this seedy granola. You can add it as a topping for yogurt, but we always eat it right out of the oven.  

2 cups old fashioned oats 
½ cup raw sunflower seeds  
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds  
¼ cup chia seeds 
½ cup flax seeds  
½ cup honey 
1 tablespoon heated coconut oil 
Pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg 
½ cup dried cranberries or raisins (or other dried fruit) 
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients except cranberries and raisins. In a small measuring bowl, combine the honey and oil, stirring with a fork. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir well to combine. Line a baking dish with foil and spray foil with non-stick spray (you can use parchment paper, but we find foil to be easier). Pour the granola onto the baking sheet and bake for 1520 minutes or until golden brown. Stir with a spatula occasionally to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let cool for 510 minutes, then pour into a bowl to let further cool. Stir in raisins, cranberries or other dried fruit. Enjoy! 
We’ve loved hearing your updates and seeing photos of your work! Please reach out with any questions you might have about seeds and growing plants at home. Until next time, happy planting! 

Emily, Ellen, and Greta
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