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Sunflower Project to grow the next generation of gardeners

Daltons are hoping to bring smiles to the faces of over 11,694 kindy children around New Zealand with their 2021 Sunflowers in Kindergartens Project launching this month.

The project aims to help grow future generations of gardeners by educating kindergarten children about gardening and providing them with hands-on learning opportunities. There is a fun, competitive component to the Project whereby the 236 participating kindergartens will compete with other kindergartens in their region to grow the tallest sunflower and widest sunflower heads.

The project kicks off on Monday 16 August and runs until Tuesday 07 December, with winners announced Thursday 09 December. This is the sixth time Daltons has run this popular Project.

Daltons, General Manager, Colin Parker says; "We feel very fortunate that things appear to have settled down in New Zealand with regards to Covid, enabling us to roll out the biennial Project to kiwi kindy kids as planned this year. We hope the project brings smiles to little faces who, along with their families, may have experienced - and still be experiencing - stresses brought on by the pandemic."

The Project provides a platform for children to learn about gardening practically, developing skills and a basic understanding of plants by sowing seeds, learning about germination, caring for seedlings, planting them out and daily care of their plant. Teachers can also integrate aspects of the Project into their learning curriculum.

Eleven kindergarten associations throughout New Zealand are taking part in the Project. Associations include, Auckland Kindergarten Association, Central Kids Kindergartens (Central North Island), Kidsfirst Kindergartens (Christchurch), Dunedin Kindergartens Incorporated, Inspired Kindergartens and Home-Based Education (Tauranga), Kindergarten Taranaki, Marlborough Kindergarten Association, Nelson Tasman Kindergartens Association, Northland Kindergarten Association, Waikato Kindergarten Association, Whānau Manaaki Kindergartens (Wellington).

Colin Parker continues; "Last year taught us how much of a sanctuary our gardens can be. We hope children will take their newly found gardening skills home and create their own little sanctuaries, whether it is growing veggies with their family or planting colourful flowers to brighten up their backyards."

A free starter pack is sent to each participating kindergarten and includes everything the children need to grow and learn about sunflowers, including a measuring tape, an instruction booklet with growing guides, peat pots, seed raising and potting mix, and the key ingredient, Skyscraper Sunflowers seeds provided by project partner Kings Seeds. This spectacular sunflower variety has been grown throughout the Project's history because it can reach up to 4-5 metres high, with stems that can be thicker than your arm! Their golden petalled flower heads can measure up to 45 cm across and weigh several kilos. In the 2019, the tallest sunflower ever grown in the project came in at a whopping 3.41 metres and the widest sunflower head measured 35cm across!

Teachers are supported throughout the project with regular newsletters full of sunflower information along with learning sheets, How-to-videos, and fun activities to integrate into the learning curriculum and share with their kindy kids.

Regional winners with the tallest sunflower and the sunflower with the widest head will receive prizes from Daltons, The Warehouse and new Project partner GARDENA, and all participating kindergartens will go into the draw to win a prize pack for their kindergarten.

At the end of the Project, each kindergarten also nominates their very own “Daltons Best Little Gardener,” to receive a certificate and prize pack, courtesy of Daltons. Participation certificates are also available for teachers to download and print off, so every child receives their own special momento.

  • We also have ‘Tips for tots to grow giant sunflowers at home’ below – please feel free to use these.

  • *The Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens Project is only running in Kindergarten associations in selected regions of New Zealand for 2021. Daltons tips for tots to grow giant sunflowers at home

    Plants begin as a seed and in order to grow, the seed must first germinate. Germination is what happens to a seed that has been dormant (asleep) and with enough warmth and water it will sprout (grow). Follow our guide on how to sow your little sunflower seed so it can begin its journey and grow into a giant sunflower. It needs warmth, sunshine, and water, a little tender loving care!

    What you will need:

    · Daltons Premium Seed Mix

    · Kings Seeds – Skyscraper sunflower seeds

    · Small pot e.g: yogurt container etc (just make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom)

    · Small shovel

    · Water spray bottle

    · Plastic dish or ice-cream container to hold your pots in

    · Gloves

    · Adult to help

    Step 1: Take your small pot and fill it (almost to the top) with your Daltons Premium Seed Mix.

    Step 2: Sow your sunflower seed into the soil about 1-1.5cm deep - no more than twice the diameter of the seed. (Seeds sown too deeply will not germinate).

    Step 3: Add a little more soil on top and water lightly. Be sure to water regularly for even germination and growth - but don’t overwater as it can rot the seeds.

    Step 4: Place your seed pots into an ice cream or yoghurt container so they do not leak water. Find a nice warm, sunny windowsill indoors. It’s very important to keep the temperature even so they germinate well.

    When will your seedling be ready to plant outside?
    When seedlings sprout, a set of leaves form first that look almost like a four-leaf clover. A few days later, a third single leaf will emerge that does not look like the first ones. This is called the first true leaf. Your seedling will be big enough to plant outdoors (weather dependent) once it has sprouted its second set of true leaves – it should be about 10-15cm tall.

    Planting your seedling
    Choose a spot in the garden that gets plenty of sun throughout the day and is sheltered from the wind. Find a strong, sturdy stake that is tall enough to support your seedling plant as it grows. Stake the seedling when planting it so you don’t disturb the plant’s roots later on. Gently tie the plant to the stake with soft ties like recycled pantyhose.

    © Scoop Media

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