Winter is on its chilly way again, as our days shorten and the temperature dips. This is, ironically, a great time to start gardening! This month, we humbly suggest an experiment that will keep some green in your home even when the skies turn gray (and occasionally white).
You will need: potting soil, herb seeds, potting containers of some kind and a window (preferably south-facing, but mostly just sunny). You will also need something clear to make a greenhouse, but keep reading before considering your options.
This is a classic, and you’ll likely know the results already, but it can be a great experience for kids. We’re going to plant two containers of indoor herbs in a nice, sunny window. Get a well-drained container, fill in some soil and follow the packet directions for your herbs (thyme, basil and oregano are all widely available and very hardy). One container should be grown with a greenhouse lid on top – anything clear that covers most of your planting container will work: old salad green boxes, halves of 2L pop bottles and even versions built from wooden skewers and plastic wrap are possible. Keep the plantings similar in both containers, and water them similarly, as well. As they grow, compare their progress and see if the simple greenhouse you make for one helps at all (eventually your herbs will likely outgrow any cover you use).
Herbs are great for this experiment for two reasons: they are very useful in cooking (which is a fun lesson all on its own), but they also tend to be tough little plants. Herbs tend to live wild in somewhat mediocre soil, so as long as they get some reasonable sunlight (your chief challenge in Nova Scotia) and aren’t overwatered. Almost any “greenhouse” you make should work wonders – trapping the heat from the sun under a bit of clear plastic is such an easy trick that it doesn’t require anything close to a perfect fit or ideal construction materials.
For added scientific inquiry, there’s a great experiment on erosion you can do that’s great fun (see here: http://www.lapappadolce.net/science-experiment-on-soil-erosion/).
And in keeping with the gardening theme – come down to the Discovery Centre any day of the week to see how we use red wiggler worms to make easy indoor compost. A little kitchen waste and a few worms can go a long way!