Now, in our second month at home, we are all spending more time in our kitchens. Cooking and baking has become the new national pastime. It is the perfect time to take it a step further and start a kitchen garden with your family. Not only is it a fun activity for children of every age, it is a great way to learn about the life cycle of a plant along with the concept of photosynthesis. You will be able to watch the growth process occur in real time, talk about where our food comes from, and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your home gardening labor.
You have two options for starting your garden. You can choose to grow your plants from seeds or from cuttings. Some of you may already have some seeds at home that you can use or you can order seed packets online from various garden stores. For those who want to use what you already have in your refrigerator, there are plenty of options available to easily grow a garden from cuttings and scraps. Below you will find some tips for growing a few common vegetables directly from cuttings, along with directions for making a mini greenhouse to start your kitchen garden from seeds.
Vegetables that you can grow from cuttings:
Celery: Cut off the bottom of your celery stalk and lay it in a bowl of warm water. Change out the water daily. Once the celery begins to grow leaves, transplant the stalk into soil and plant into the ground or into a pot to grow in a window with sun.
Green Onion: Cut off the bottom of the green onion and set it inside a glass with enough water to cover it. Empty and change the water out every two days. It should take just over a week for a new onion to grow.
Lettuce: Cut off the bottom of the lettuce leaf bunch and place in a bowl with water. Set in a sunny window. Mist with water every two days. Once there are new roots and new leaves growing, you can transplant directly into soil.
Potato: Take a cutting of your potato where there is an eye. This is the dark indented area where the sprouts grow from when your potato gets old. Let the potato cutting dry for a day and then plant it in soil in a small container with the eye facing up. Water and keep in a sunny window. Replant after sprouts grow up through the soil.
Basil or Cilantro: Place a couple of stems of either basil or cilantro (about 4 inches is optimum) in a glass of water. Keep the glass in a window or somewhere with plenty of sunlight. When roots appear that are several inches in length, you can transplant the herbs into a small pot with soil or directly outside.
Avocado: Place a washed avocado seed over water in a jar or a glass, using toothpicks poked into the side to keep it suspended. Make sure that only 1 inch of the bottom of the seed is covered in water. Add more water as needed to keep the ratio. This seed can be placed in a warm place in your kitchen out of direct sunlight. After several weeks, roots and a stem should appear. When the stem grows to 6 inches, you can cut it in half until leaves appear and it is ready for planting into a pot. Plant the seed with roots facing down into the soil with half of the seed above the soil.
Create Your Own Mini Greenhouse: If you are lucky enough to have some seeds on hand or have ordered some online, it is always exciting to watch the process of a seed sprouting. You can make your own mini greenhouse in your kitchen window in order to see your seed growing in real time. Some seeds like carrots, radishes, and basil, will sprout faster than others and can also be grown inside until it is ready to harvest.
All you need is:
A small plastic sandwich bag
3-4 cotton balls
A Sunny Window
First, saturate your cotton balls with water and put them into the plastic bag. Next, sprinkle a few seeds into the bag, shake it around to get the seeds wet, and tape up your bag to hang it in a sunny window. Click here to download our Stratford Sprout House frame to hang with your bag on the window. Check your bag every day to make sure the cotton balls are still moist. Spritz a little water into the bag if the cotton is dry. Depending on the type of seed you chose, it can take a few days before you start to see sprouts appear.
After a few days of sprouting you can plant the seedling into a small pot to watch it grow a bit more before planting outside. An egg carton is a great way to continue to watch the sprout grow and you can plant the crate segments directly into the ground when you are ready to move them into to a bigger planter. Clear plastic cups or clear plastic berry containers are also a great way to watch the seedlings grow. Closing the cover on the plastic berry container will also create a greenhouse effect, like the sandwich bags. Some plants, like radishes and carrots, can continue to be grown inside using a large milk carton with the top cut off or a large pot. Herbs can continue to grow well in small pots on the windowsill. Or you can take your kitchen garden outside, making sure your plants get the right amount of light and water that they need to fully grow. When planting outside, be sure to consult with a gardening website like Garden.org to learn more about your plant’s soil and light requirements, and the best time of year to plant.
While you are watching your garden grow, read some fun children’s books about gardening, like “Lola Plants a Garden.” See below for a list of some of our favorite books.
Lastly, you might want to keep a garden journal to record your observations and note what you did for each type of plant, how long each plant took to grow, what kind of light and watering was needed, and what plants grew better than others. Green thumbs don’t happen overnight and you can learn from any of your mishaps to help cultivate a growth mindset along with your kitchen garden. Happy Planting!
For more ideas from growing plants from kitchen cuttings and growing a garden inside, visit these websites:
For information about plant requirements and outdoor planting, visit:
Children’s Gardening Book Recommendations from our Stratford Librarians:
Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn
Planting A Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle
My Garden by Kevin Henkes
Jo MacDonald had a Garden by Mary Quattlebaum
The Bear's Garden by Marcie Colleen
We Are The Gardeners by Joanna Gaines