Teaching the Kids to Grow

Soilless planting with DuneCraft

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There’s a special joy in growing a plant from seed. Starting with a tiny dry pellet, with a bit of nurturing, and growing into a beautiful flower or perhaps even a plant that provides food gives that unique blessing of being a provider of life, no matter who you are. The folks at DuneCraft have a range of products designed to help you bring that joy to a child or the adult who can’t stand being near dirt.

Their products range from a simple seed-starting kit suitable for preschoolers (with grownup help) to a workable in-home hydroponics set for growing salad greens that an adult may find a rewarding introduction to soilless agriculture.

The simplest is the “Eco Plant Pals” ($2.99), a four ounce plastic container with a peat pellet, seeds, and a set of instructions. A child, or an adult who believes in starting at the bottom, can add water to the peat pellet, watch it fluff up, insert the seeds, and cover – then wait until the butterfly bush, sunflower, or one of 10 other choices of seeds to spout, and then transfer to a sunny location outdoors.

Identical in concept, the Sprout n’ Grow greenhouses ($9.99) are large enough attract attention on the kitchen windowsill. It’s a little greenhouse grows watermelons or bell peppers – or at least germinates the seeds and gets the seedlings started for transfer to the garden outside. The Organic Veggies kit ($4.99) is little more grown-up version for tomatoes or beans, using larger peat pellets, a biodegradable pot made of coconut husks, and a thick plastic bag to create the greenhouse effect.

Any of these miniature greenhouses is a great introduction to growing seeds, providing a way to transition from the kitchen counter to the real dirt outside. But imagine being able to grow fully mature, edible plants completely without soil. The process is called hydroponics, and is typically a tremendously complex and expensive undertaking. But the folks at DuneCraft have created a workable introduction to hydroponics they call Hydro-Dome.

The Hydro-Dome system ($29.99) includes a circular greenhouse, with a clear dome, a nutrient solution holding bottom, and a tray that supports four glass wool filled seed pots. The nutrient solution feeds the roots while the dome protects the plants and keeps them warm. Nutrient solution is just warm water and two fertilizers provided in the kit. The only tricky part is remembering to pump air into the solution every day and to refresh it every week. Follow instructions and in a few weeks the kitchen window can provide a self-replenishing salad – and a growing urge to find instructions on building a huge hydroponics system.

The folks at DuneCraft have even more ways to enjoy growing plants. A visit to their website will reveal a broad of items that spark creativity and bring out the mad gardening scientist in all of us, including home-grown mushrooms, glass terrariums, and even lima beans whose first leaves port fun and silly messages.

But the fun doesn’t stop there – scientific fun abounds at their website www.DuneCraft.com, where browsing their shop is an adventure all by itself.
Happy growing!

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