How to Start an Indoor Garden

Thinking Sustainably

Even when it’s cold outside, you can learn how to start an indoor garden. To up your excitement, make it a fun family activity! One way to get your little ones involved is to let them choose a type of veggie or flower they want to see grow. Growing herbs and greens inside is a great way to get started.

That’s right—with the right tools and a bit of planning, you can enjoy fresh, year-round greens, grown and picked right in your home. Of course, whether you choose herbs, greens, or flowers, they’re all perfect gardening activities for kids.

indoor garden activities for kids

Make a Plan

Decide what you’re going to grow: herbs, greens, or flowers. Growing herbs and greens are both great ways to teach kids about food and cooking.

Herbs are compact, easy, and edible, and they’re a great way to start an indoor garden. If herbs are what you want, find a sunny spot and decide which you’d like to grow. Common choices are rosemary, basil, and mint. You can pick up seeds in the gardening section of many home improvement stores or at the grocery store.

Greens are another popular choice. If you’re growing an indoor garden, however, you may be concerned about size. Your solution is microgreens: They are smaller versions of popular greens, pack a nutritious punch, and have a delicate taste. Since microgreens are grown in soil, they’re a good alternative to sprouts—growing sprouts in water can harbor bacteria, according to NPR.

There are many plants that can be grown as microgreens. Try lettuce, spinach, watercress, or cabbage. Microgreens add a bit of color and fun to salads. They also work as a garnish for main dishes.

Once you’ve decided what you’ll plant, gather your supplies and find a good place for the garden. Here’s what you need:

  • A sunny, south-facing window or a grow light
  • Shallow container with drainage holes. A plastic container such as a prepackaged-salad box (with holes added to the bottom) or a nursery flat are good options
  • Organic potting soil
  • Seeds
  • Mister or watering can

When you have all of your supplies together, you’re ready to start planting!

How to Start an Indoor Garden

  1. Place one to two inches of organic potting soil into your container. Smooth the surface or gently push down, creating an even plane.
  2. Scatter seeds over the surface of the soil. It may seem like you’re using a lot of seeds, but the trick with microgreens is that you’re growing a lot very quickly and harvesting them when they’re still sprout-sized.
  3. Now, you’ll want to cover your seeds with a thin layer of soil. Be gentle—some people even use a mesh sieve to make sure the soil is fine. Take a look at your soil to decide if it needs to be sifted or if a thin layer with your hands will suffice.
  4. Put the container with your seeds into a drip tray, and give your seeds a gentle shower. Use a small mister or a water can that diffuses the water. Be gentle with your tiny garden!
  5. Once the tray is in the sunny spot or under grow lights, mist them with water every couple of days (just enough to keep the soil moist). But you don’t want soggy soil, so if you see water accumulating in your drip tray, remove it.

You can expect to see your greens growing within a week, and they will typically be ready to harvest in two to three weeks. It depends on what type of green you’re growing, but once the leaves unfurl, they’re ready.

Then, when it’s harvest time, trim your microgreens right above the soil line. Give them a rinse, and enjoy!

What do you grow indoors? Let us know! Tweet us using #GoodMatters.

Image source: Mali Anderson

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Starting an indoor garden is an educational and fun way to introduce kids to growing their own food. Start with herbs and greens, and you'll be enjoying fresh, year-round greens in a few weeks, to go along with your learning!