16 Indoor Gardening Activities for Kids these winters school holidays
- Milk/juice bottle with the side or top cut off
- Juice carton with the side or top cut off
- Plastic tomato and strawberry containers
- Chinese containers (but only if deep enough)
- Pizza box (but only if deep enough)
- Shoe box or other cardboard box
Remember to punch 3 drainage holes in your planter.
I DO NOT recommend egg cartons or toilet rolls. These dry out very quickly and can set people up to fail. If you do wish to use them, place them in a shallow dish of water (0.5cm max) and allow them to wick the water up from the base. You want your seeds moist, not wet. They are only appropriate until the seed has sprouted and then need to be transplanted into the garden or pot.
I recommend buying a bag of seed raising mix (they are small bags which are perfect).
(If you want to use potting mix I encourage you to listen to my Podcast, Growing Vegetables Down Under Episode 2, where I discuss the issues with potting mix.)
It is best you use a spray bottle and mist your seeds as opposed to pouring water in. Water will drain through the soil faster and risk overwatering. Mist every day. Every. Day!
This guide is designed for planting indoors in the cooler months. Place your planters close to windows so they can receive direct and indirect sunlight throughout the day. A room that is heated is better but not necessary.
Day 1 - Radishes from seeds
Although kids may not be all too interested in eating radishes, because they are fast growing, and look cool, they will be fun to watch. The smaller they are, the less sharp they taste.
Container: 15cm deep x 5cm wide per radish.
Planting: Plant one seed per 5m2
Position: as much sun as available
Harvest: 6 - 10 weeks depending on warmth and sunlight.
Day 2 - Regrow Spring Onions from food scraps
These can be grown from seed, however, it is faster to grow from off cuts.
Container: a jar for water method, or a container at least 5cm deep for soil method
Planting: Cut the white part off a spring onion. Either stand the roots in 2cm of water (change water daily), or plant the roots and 1cm of the white stem in soil.
Position: happy anywhere. Seeds need sunlight to warm the soil.
Harvest: will resprout in 24 - 48 hours.
Day 3 - Lettuce from seeds
Lettuce are quick to sprout from seed. We will be growing from food scraps later.
Container: at least 10cm x 10cm per plant
Planting: fill with soil and poke a hole 1cm deep. Sprinkle 2 seeds. (They are very small so don't worry if there are more. But when they sprout, reduce to 1 - 2 seedlings per hole).
Position: direct sunlight for a few hours per day.
Harvest: will take about 30 days to have leaves worth harvesting depending on the amount of sunlight. Harvest leaves not the whole plant for a continuous crop.
Day 4 - Microgreens
If you don't know what microgreens are, check out my blog post.
Container: any size. A Chinese container is perfect.
Planting: fill container with soil. Add water and mix around till soil is moist. Pat soil down. Sprinkle seeds on top and pat down (no need to bury). Place lid on top. You can sprout anything, but broccoli and other brassicas or lettuce have a mild flavour and are best for kids.
Position: indirect sunlight (kitchen bench is great). Mist daily and check to see if seeds have sprouted. Once sprouted, take lid off.
Harvest: at any time. Just cut off what you need and sprinkle on top of ANYTHING!
Day 5 - Spinach from seeds
Probably not the first thing you think off to feed kids, but chop it up finely and stir it into food. I also freeze it and add to smoothies. When added frozen it doesn't turn the smoothie green! Otherwise I just call it a Shrek smoothie....!
Container: use a milk or juice bottle with the top cut off for at least 20cm of soil depth
Day 6 - Grow Baby Carrots from seed
Baby carrots will be ready to eat in about 4 weeks, whilst larger carrots will take about 8 weeks and need a deeper pot.
Container: 10cm deep x 5cm wide for every carrot
Planting: 3/4 fill container with soil. Add water and mix until moist. Level out soil level. Sprinkle the seeds over the surface of the soil. Cover with no more than 1cm of soil. Mist
Position: near a window with a few hours of direct light is best but will grow in indirect light. Growth will be much slower.
Harvest: move the soil around the base of the stems so you can see the top of the carrots. The width of the top gives you an indication of how big the carrot is. Harvest as needed.
Day 7 - Regrow Celery
Cut the base off a celery leaving about 10cm. Place the celery in a jar of water with just the base touching. You can use toothpicks if necessary.
Container: once sprouted, plant in a milk carton with the top cut off. Needs at least 20cm of soil, but the more the better as they have deep roots.
Planting: plant in the garden at any time. It will go to seed in spring. Let this happen and next year free celery will grow.
Position: the more sunlight the better. Outdoors, part shade to full sun.
Harvest: you can harvest the stalks individually.
Day 8 - Alfalfa sprouts
These are a great salad topper. Kids will probably have fun eating them.
Container: glass jar, cloth and rubber band
Planting: pour seeds into the glass jar. Seal with cloth and rubber band. Add water to cover seeds and soak for 24hrs. Rinse, drain and repeat once or twice per day.
Position: Store on an angle upside down to allow for drainage (I keep mine in the dishrack!) If you want them to go greener, leave in the sun for 2 hours before eating.
Harvest: Once sprouted, store in fridge till ready to eat. They will last for about 2 days.
Day 9 - Regrowing Lettuce
Day 10 - Regrowing Carrots
Day 11 - Regrow Onions from food scraps
Day 12 - Growing Beetroot
Day 13 - Growing Sprouts
Day 14 - Regrow leeks
Day 15 - Grow Silverbeet
Day 16 - Grow Sweet Potato Slips
Note that sweet potatoes are a vine which produces potatoes under the soil. You will need a very large pot, or a garden to grow these successfully. Otherwise they are a pretty indoor plant.
Container: glass jar, pot
Planting: place the bottom of the sweet potato in a jar of water with at least 2cm submerged, but not more than 50% of the total sweet potato. The top is the pointy end which was attached to the vine, whilst the bottom is the flatter end. The sweet potato with grow shoots called "slips". The slips that are submerged in water will grow roots, whilst those that are growing out of the sweet potato above the water line will not grow roots.
Change the water daily.
If you want to grow an indoor vine, plant the whole potato into a pot.
If you want to grow potatoes, you will need all your slips to grow roots. Cut the top off your sweet potato which will have slips with no roots. Place this portion in a new jar, completely submerging the sweet potato and the bottoms of the slips, but with the top of the slips out of the water. This will encourage the slips to grow their own roots. After 8 weeks you will have tall slips with lots of roots.
Gently break off the slips. Place one slip per large pot, or one every 30cm in the garden.
Position: place in direct sunlight for a few hours per day for faster growth. Once potted, place in at least 6 hours of sunlight for best results.
Harvest: In autumn, before the first frost, cut off the vine, and dig up your sweet potatoes. They will all be attached to each which makes for easy harvesting.