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Average Rating: 
Participant Age: 
7 to 12, Under 7
Approximate Cost: 
$10 to $100
Duration: 
Over an hour
Date submitted: 
10/01/2012
Difficulty: 
Physical Challenge: 
Grow Your Own Tomatoes
Growing tomatoes is easy. Just add water, sunshine, and a little TLC.
Materials
  • Fertilizer made for tomatoes
  • Gravel
  • 12-inch pot with drainage hole (1 per plant)
  • Potting soil with perlite
  • Stakes (1 per pot)
  • 12-inch-long strips of cloth
  • Tomato plants
Steps
Step 1
Pick Out Some Plants

Cherry and grape tomatoes are easy to grow, and many children prefer the bite-sized harvests to large ones.

Step 2
Get Ready to Plant

Put a layer of gravel at the bottom of each plant. Then fill each pot more than halfway with soil. Plant the tomatoes deeply, covering up to three-quarters of the plant, including some of its bottom leaves! (This helps the plant grow stronger roots.) Insert a stake with each plant so it can be tied up when taller. Make sure your child gives the plants lots of warmish water immediately and every day for the first week.

Step 3
Add Sunshine

If you’re starting your tomatoes indoors, put them in your sunniest window. Once the outside temperature climbs toward 60° F, place them in a spot where they can enjoy at least six to eight hours of sunshine daily.

Step 4
Give Them Some Love

After a week or two, have your child put dried grass or pine needles around the plants to help the soil stay moist. Keep watering the plants regularly, mixing in some water-soluble fertilizer every two weeks. When the plants start to flower, tie them to the stakes with the strips of cloth. This will keep the plant from falling onto the ground.

Step 5
Harvest Your Tomatoes

Once your tomatoes start to ripen, water them a little less to make the fruit even sweeter. When your tomatoes are a bright, deep red, it’s harvest time. Yum!

Step 6
Talk About What You Learned

Use this activity as an opportunity to teach your child that plants need sunlight, water, and nutrients from the soil to grow. Each part of a plant has a special job to do.

  • The roots hold the plant in the ground. They absorb water and nutrients from the soil. 
  • The stem carries the water and nutrients to the leaves. It also helps support the plant. 
  • The leaves use sunlight, water, and air to make the food the plant needs to grow. 
  • The flowers make the fruit we eat.
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