Peas, Please!

By Bonnie Grant | January 31, 2021
Image by drevalyusha
by Bonnie Grant
January 31, 2021

I remember it well even though it was nearly 50 years ago. In school, our teacher had fairly standard lesson plans for the little ones. It was probably first grade when we learned about seed germination. It is still one of those kids’ garden projects that pop up in a child’s early years. 

A seed jar experiment is one of those classic lessons that’s been done for generations. One of the easiest ways to teach children about the growth of plants is to demonstrate seed germination. Peas or beans germinate very quickly with moisture and you can observe the root development and leafy growth in just a couple of weeks. This is great, since kids have notoriously short attention spans. 

A Seed Jar Experiment

I can’t recall if we wrapped our seeds in moist paper towels or used soil. I think they might have been in old baby food jars with damp soil. Anyway, I remember checking the little container eagerly the next day after planting but nothing had happened. On day 3 or 4 roots were starting to come out of the seed, and a little plant was pushing its way out. We were learning about seed germination!

Very soon, within a week I think, we all had little plants growing out of our baby food jars. At least I hope we all had a plant. Sometimes a seed is a dud, so I hope nobody got a bad seed that didn’t germinate. We cared for our little plants and were allowed to take them home. 

This must have all transpired in spring, because I remember planting my plant in the veggie garden. My Mum helped so I didn’t bury the whole thing and smother it. We did get peas off the plant later in the season. Probably not very many, but I remember enjoying eating them off the vine and learning how to shell them. 

Kids’ Garden Projects Through The Years

I’m sure they are using the very trendy Mason jars or something more sophisticated today, but as a lesson, this is still one of the easiest ways to demonstrate seed germination to young people. Some schools may have learning gardens, while others probably rely upon this rudimentary experiment to demonstrate seed growth. In later years, I remember we did the same experiment in order to learn about plant parts. You know – cotyledons, and embryos, etc. This might have been in middle school. So peas feature prominently in my early education. 

I still germinate my peas and beans in moist paper towels, tucked into plastic bags on top of the refrigerator. They germinate quickly that way and are on their way to becoming plants much faster than simply planting the seed in the ground. I still enjoy watching the little roots form, the seed softening, and a fledgling plant appear. Some things never change. 
This is my earliest memory of planting a seed but I have many more helping my grandparents start their vegetable gardens. I got quite the garden education as a child, but it all started with that little seed jar experiment. It’s one of those classic kid’s garden experiments that starts off a joy of gardening and a love for growing one’s own food.

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