When we think about exploring our sense of taste and smell the kitchen seems like the obvious place to go. But what about the garden? Growing your own garden indoors from leftover food scraps can be a great way to expose little ones to new flavors and smells, and to get them interested in food production and science! We recommend herbs, garlic or onions as they are easy to grow and safe for children to handle, taste and smell.
Herbs: In general, you can use a 3 to 4 inch cut of an herb for propagation. A great herb to start with is basil. Remove the leaves on the bottom 2 inches of the cutting and place in water. Once roots have sprouted, you can plant in soil. Children can practice cutting to remove the leaves, and they can be in charge of changing the water on a daily basis. Ask them to smell the leaves! If there is more than one type of herb practice identifying it by smell alone. For more information on how to grow specific herbs you can check out this reference.
Garlic: Garlic is an easy plant to grow, just pop a clove in some potting soil and place in a sunny location! Keep it watered, and once the shoots are established trim them back so the garlic will produce a bulb. Children can fill the pot with soil, dig a small hole, and plant the clove. Ask them to smell their fingers after handling the garlic, they are sure to be smelly!
Onions: As you’re chopping onions for dinner keep the end of the onion with the roots with a few centimeters of onion still attached. Your child can plant this piece of onion in soil and cover with soil and keep it watered in a sunny area. Onions are a great food for sensorial exploration. As we know they have a strong smell that can make our eyes water, and a very distinct taste!