Having a garden is a great, hands-on way to teach kids about where our food comes from. Plus, your kids can gain firsthand understanding of the time, patience and hard work it takes to grow a plant from seeds. If you’re unfamiliar with the garden plant life cycle, then keep reading for the basics.
Seeds contain plant embryos, the result of pollination and fertilizer. Usually, seeds are found inside of fruits, but you might be surprised to learn why. When animals or humans eat these sweet fruits, they swallow the seeds and disperse them when they have a bowel movement. As a result, the seeds get spread out across a larger area. Additionally, some plants, like dandelions, have seeds that can be carried far away by the wind. If a seed lands in an optimal spot, then it can grow into a new plant.
Once a seed has settled into a new spot in the soil, a bit of water and moisture will encourage it to germinate. A root will anchor the seed into the ground, and a stem will poke out of the soil. Eventually, it will sprout leaves and begin photosynthesis.
A plant with one stem and two brand new leaves is called a seedling. You should begin to see these in your garden anywhere from 2-5 days after planting. Take care of these delicate little things! They are soft and sweet, making them a perfect meal for animals.
Plants can’t run around and meet each other, so they must attract animals and insects in order to reproduce. Flowers evolved to be beautiful and fragrant for this exact reason. Nectar is the reward for insects like bees. The furry body of the bee picks up pollen, and deposits it onto other flowers that the bee visits.
When a plant receives pollen from another plant, via a bee or animal, this is called pollination. This is similar to sexual reproduction in animals, where the pollen functions like sperm. Meanwhile, the egg of the plant sits inside the flower of the receiving plant. Successful pollination results in new seeds, beginning the cycle all over again.