At Brightling, we plant a vegetable garden each summer in our yard, and the children love tending it. There is always a little feeling of wonder when we spot the first signs of growth, and then again when we begin to see vegetables forming… and harvest time is a full-on party. “We made carrots!”

This spring, you can make a family project of starting some special vegetable plants from seed indoors, and take care of them until they’re hearty enough to plant outside (once the weather is ready for them).

Sweet peas are often a favourite: they’re easy to find (Canadian Tire or most any hardware store will have them, if you’re not around a garden centre), they don’t require any special equipment, and they grow into lovely, curly plants. Children love to harvest peas as they grow, and to open the pods to find the peas arranged like strings of Christmas lights inside!

Working together, here’s all you need to do:

  1. Fill a 3″-4″ deep planting pot with moist potting soil.
  2. Plant your sweet pea 1″ deep, and cover it up with soil.
  3. Add a little bit more water, then leave it in a sunny spot to begin to germinate.
  4. At a certain time every day (to make it easy to remember!), have your child touch the soil. Does it feel damp at all? If not, add a little bit more water. The idea is to keep the soil moist (but not fully wet) throughout its early growth.
  5. After a couple of weeks, the pea plant should sprout. Once it has grown a few leaves, it’s safe to plant outdoors, as long as the ground is ready!
  6. If you can, build a tower above the plant in the garden out of wooden chopsticks or popsicle sticks, so your child can watch the plant grow up the structure. If not, the plant will still yield lovely peas closer to the ground.

Growing plants together gives you lots of opportunity to talk about nature, and to bond over the experience of building something patiently. Make sure to take pictures to document your sweetpea’s growth… and their plant, too.