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Sowing seeds

This first practical session can be started in spring time and consists of sowing the seeds into trays.

We estimate the time needed is one hour for the classroom session. You will need 15 minutes per day to check and water the seeds.

Teacher's lesson plan

Divide your class into four groups; the children will stay in these groups for all three sessions. The four groups are the carrot group, pea group, spinach group and tomato group.

Each group will get to know their particular veg/fruit and will be responsible for looking after each plant. If there are not enough adults to supervise each group sowing their seeds at once then we advise:

Three groups can do an activity, (from one of the activity cards for instance), which is easier for one adult to supervise whilst the fourth group sows their seeds. Rotate the class so each group gets a chance to sow their seeds. We recommend you do not have more than two groups at a time doing the growing activity. Each group will have 15 minutes to sow their seeds.

  1. Introduce the project to class – explain the aims of the project
  2. Discussion around how plants grow, what they need to grow etc
  3. Explain information cards
  4. Explain the practical session – sowing the seeds
  5. Explain the instruction cards
  6. Plant care
  7. Explain plant care cards
  8. Use of activity cards if appropriate
  9. Look at 'what next?'
Session One (sowing seeds)
Teacher's guidelines
Introduce the project to your class:

“The aim of this project is to learn how easy it is for us to grow some of our own food and then make some tasty meals or snacks. This fits in with how important it is for us to eat at least five fruit and vegetables every day."

"We will be growing four different vegetables/fruit over the next few weeks; these will be carrots, spinach, peas and tomatoes. You will be divided into four groups and called the pea group, tomato group etc. Your group will be in charge of looking after your plants from sowing the seeds all the way through to picking them when they are ready to eat.”

Discussion with class:

How plants grow, what they need e.g. compost, warmth, sunshine, water. Explain how each vegetable/fruit has its own characteristics which mean:

•  This will affect the health benefits to us and that's why a variety of fruit and vegetables are good for us.

•  How we grow each plant.

Children's Information Cards:

Work through the information cards for the children which give detailed information for each group so they can get to know their Veg/Fruit. Click on each to open:

Carrot information card  
Pea information card  
Spinach information card  
Tomato information card  

You could have a quiz at a later date to see who has learnt the most about their plant.

Session One (sowing seeds)
Teacher's seed sowing lesson plan

This first practical session involves sowing the seeds into trays and can be started in spring time.

Each of the four groups will need:

•  A modular seed tray or children could bring in old egg cartons to use instead of plastic modular trays – this is a good example of recycling .

•  Compost (soil)

•  Seeds

•  Watering cans

•  Labels (it's easy to make your own using strips from plastic bottles)

Each group needs to place some fine and crumbly compost in their seed trays and fill all the modules until they are almost full and then press the compost down very lightly.

As each group may need to sow their seeds in a slightly different way there are four children's instructions cards which explain how to sow each vegetable/fruit seed.

Children's Instruction Cards:
Click on each to open:

Carrot instruction card  
Pea instruction card  
Spinach instruction card  
Tomato instruction card  

Session One (sowing seeds)
Teacher's plant care notes

After the seeds have been sown the trays need to be put in a warm and light place but not where it gets too hot. A north-facing windowsill is good but if you do not have one put them somewhere where they will not have the sun shining directly on them and not on top of a radiator, (see diagram on right).

Pamper those Plants!

After care:

•  Regularly check the trays, don't let them dry out too much and don't water them too much because the seeds will drown - the compost should be moist (damp) to the touch.

•  When the seedlings start to grow they can often get ‘leggy' as they look for the light, this means they grow quickly and the stem gets very thin and spindly and can barely stay upright. This can also happen if they are somewhere too warm. Try to remember to turn the trays regularly and ensure they get light during the day, (see diagram on right).

•  When the plants grow over 5cm tall they can be placed outside during the day if the weather is not too windy and there is no heavy rain. This means the plants get some extra light and air and this will help to prevent ‘legginess' and will get them used to being outside before being planted out in the second session.

•  As each vegetable/fruit may have its own individual after-care needs a children's care card has been included for each group which they can use to look after their plants until Session Two

Children's Care Cards:

Click on each to open:

Carrot care card  
Pea care card  
Spinach care card  
Tomato care card  


Session One (sowing seeds)
Teacher's follow up notes to
Session One
  1. Keep an eye on the seed trays and follow the guidelines on the children's care cards for the care of each vegetable/fruit

  2. Refer to progress timescale chart to monitor your progress

  3. Schedule in the next Grow Your Own Grub session for about one months time. However you may need to be flexible about this – you may need to delay the session if the plants are not ready or if the weather is too bad or bring the session forward if the plants are ready to go outside.

  4. Print off the invitation letter for parents about two weeks after Session One which invites them to the last session. (click to open letter)

  5. If you need some gardening advice your school can get free advice from the HDRA (an organic gardening organisation) by joining them for free online at Once you have joined you can call the advice line on 02476 308215 and get free advice from one of their experts.

  6. We have provided some related activity cards which can be used between the sessions or for indoor work if the weather is bad and you have to delay the second session. These activities will show you how to produce fresh, nutritious foods from growing indoors!
Children's Activity Card

Related activities which can be done during this session or at any other time:

Now follow on to Container Growing Session Two (transplanting) or Ground Growing Session Two (transplanting).

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Sowing seeds

These are the 4 groups, pea, tomato, spinach & carrot.
Click for larger versions of the symbols

above: children's project cards.






above: click for larger version of the images




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©2006 Portsmouth City Council


click for a larger version of the pea group symbol click for a larger version of the tomato group symbol click for a larger version of the spinach group symbol click for a larger version of the carrot group symbol