- Author: Karen Metz
I had been looking for a way to both encourage a love for gardening, and to strengthen the bond with my long-distance bonus grandchildren in Oregon. I had given them gardening tools a year ago, and had recently found some cute animal shaped watering cans. I decided it might be fun to get some seeds for them to plant in Oregon and I could plant here.
I debated what to get. I wanted something that would grow quickly so it would sustain the children's interest. The two girls would be 4 years old when we started the project and turn 5 shortly after. I thought about radishes, but a lot of young children don't like the taste. It also needed to be something that could at least start out in a pot.
Then I thought of sunflowers. I searched for a long time to find a small variety and finally found Sunspot. It said the plant would grow to 18 inches tall and have a pretty yellow flower. I sent up a seed packet for each girl. I figured their younger brother, at 2 years old, was a little young to focus on the project, but could hopefully enjoy the results.
After I sent everything up, I waited to hear. The girls planted their seeds in pots on April 26th. One child insisted on planting all her seeds in one pot, while the other child split their seeds between two pots. Uh oh, not a great start. I tried to explain by text about allowing 8 inches between the seeds and that perhaps they could separate them to give them more room. By May 3rd the seeds were sprouting. On May 10th, they transplanted them out to a level area of soil in their yard where they were able to give the seedlings more room.
Now I wasn't able to get mine planted up in little pots until early June. This was partly because I was traveling and partly by design. I wanted to make sure that their plants would always be larger and prettier. I also was planning on leaving them in small pots as I didn't have any available ground to transplant them in to.
My first buds didn't start to form until July 19th. By then the girls' plants had many large buds. The children were very excited to see the first hint of yellow, deep within those buds, on July 24th. At times all three children would be sitting in front of the flower bed watching the plants. They would talk to the plants and encourage their “sunflower family” to open up.
Of course, the blossoms opened and the girls would make sure that their mom sent pictures so I could see the progress and wanted to see pictures of my 2 small plants. The sunflower garden also became the required setting for photos of other special occasions like sister hugs, Daddy- daughter date night, and superhero poses.
It was a warm summer in Oregon this year and the girls were responsible for watering the sunflowers. They started off with their little watering cans. Over time, going back to the faucet each time to refill grew tiresome. When their wading pool was out, they could refill their watering cans there.
Still trying to find ways to make the job easier, one girl tried to fill a 5-gallon bucket with water. She managed to wrestle it over to the area and tip it over to soak the area. My favorite photo of this whole project is when the girls used their Super Soaker squirt guns to water the flowers. Very clever, I thought.
The summer has passed and the girls were reporting that they only had 2 “cheery “sunflowers left. We explained that the plants had worked hard over the summer and now needed to rest. Their mom is going to try and save the seeds from those last blooms for planting next year. I think the sunflower project was a great success.