Budding gardeners learn skills for life
24 August 2015
Budding gardeners learn skills for life
Over 12,800 budding preschool gardeners from around the country will take part in the 2015 Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens Project which launches today. In its third year, the successful gardening initiative gives kindergarten children the opportunity to develop hands on gardening skills and learn about the lifecycle of plants whilst trying to grow the tallest sunflower or widest sunflower head in their region.
Last year over 245 kindergartens in nine regions: Auckland, Nelson Tasman, Marlborough, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, New Plymouth, Tauranga and Waikato took part. One Auckland kindergarten actually grew their sunflower through their deck roof at a whopping 2.88 metres tall! This year the project has expanded and includes Central Kids Kindergartens (central North Island area), taking the number of regions participating to 10.
The Daltons Sunflowers in Kindy’s Project runs from 24 August until 9 December with winners announced on 12 December 2015. Each kindergartens has been sent a starter pack with everything the children need to grow their own stunning Kings Seeds Skyscraper sunflowers which have the potential to grow up to a staggering 4 metres high.
Daltons General Manager, Colin Parker, says; “You are never too young to learn about gardening. The project has thrived since we launched it three years ago and we are delighted to bring it to even more regions this year. Our main goal is that children have the opportunity to connect with gardening - the competition component is there for a little extra encouragement and fun. These kindy kids will not only develop gardening skills and knowledge, practice basic maths, but also learn about responsibility as they take care of their plants throughout the project.”
Regional prizes are up for grabs from Daltons and Warehouse Stationery for the Kindergarten who grows The Tallest Sunflower and The Sunflower with the Widest Head. Participating kindergartens will also go into a draw to win one of two gardening workshops with TV personality and award winning landscape designer, Xanthe White.
At the end of the project, each kindergarten will nominate their own 'Daltons Best Little Gardener' who will receive a special certificate and prize pack, courtesy of Daltons and Warehouse Stationery.
The Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens project provides great learning opportunities for the children through:
• Developing hands on gardening skills.
• Learning about seed germination, planting and caring for seedlings and watching a plants life cycle in action.
• Exposing children to numbers and basic math’s via regularly measuring and recording their plant’s growth.
The project also supports teachers with a variety of tools and activities to help them engage the children in gardening.
For those children not taking part in the Daltons Sunflowers in Kindergartens project, they can still grow sunflowers at home. Here are some top tips from Daltons for growing great sunflowers:
Every seed first needs to germinate in order to grow up in to a giant sunflower. To do this you need to plant your seeds into soil which has all the nutrients (food) it needs to germinate (sprout). Seeds also need warmth, sunshine and water, plus a little tender loving care!
What you will need:
• Daltons Seed Mix
• Kings Seeds – Skyscraper sunflower
• Small pot eg: 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.
Take your small pot and fill it (almost to the top) with your Daltons Seed Raising Mix.
Sow your sunflower seed into the soil about 1 - 1.5cm deep (no more than twice the DIAMETER of the seed).
Add a little more soil on top and water lightly. Be sure to water regularly for even germination and growth, but avoid overwatering as it can rot the seeds.
Place your pots into a plastic container, like an ice-cream or yoghurt container so they do not leak water. Keep them indoors on a nice sunny windowsill and look after them well. To germinate your seeds you will need to grow them indoors for the first month or so as it is too cold outside!
• It’s very important to keep the temperature constant, so ensure your pots are in a very warm, sunny location.
• You can create your own mini green-house by taking a 1.5 litre plastic bottle, cut the bottom out and remove the lid and place it over your pot.
When will your seedling be ready to plant outside?
When seedlings sprout, there are a set of leaves that 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 seedlings will be big enough to plant outdoors (weather dependent) once they have sprouted their second set of true leaves – it should be about 10-15cm tall.