A big part of what we hope to accomplish here at the Plant a Seed & See What Grows Foundation is to inspire parents, guardians, and teachers to encourage their children and students to develop an interest in healthy organic gardening. Getting a head start in the concept, early in one’s life, helps avoid the nutritional back-peddling that so many of us do in our later years. However, kids are kids, and thus one of the biggest obstacles to maintaining their interest in organic gardening, is the frustration born from a few unsuccessful early attempts. In addition, as real estate densification continues in major cities all over the world access to backyard patches and even plots for urban community gardens becomes less attainable. In essence, starting one’s own kid-friendly garden is far more challenging today than ever before. That’s why, in this week’s Plant A Seed & See What Grows blog post, we thought we’d take a big part of the challenge out of the equation by providing you with insight into produce that can be grown easily and indoors. All that you need is a window sill or solarium (even better!) and you and your children or students will be well on the way to growing a very prosperous indoor garden.
5 Easy-to-Grow Indoor Fruits and Vegetables for Urbanites and Kids
Avocados are rich in vitamin B, C, and K in addition to potassium and monounsaturated fats (the good fat). They also taste great in a wide variety of dishes that your kids will enjoy, including guacamole, of course. In fact, the popularity of avocado being commonly used in Indonesia to make yummy yet nutritious (we won’t tell if you don’t) milkshakes has poured over into the western world and is now being served by parents to kids in kitchens all over Canada and the U.S.. Sold? Good, because this fruit (often mistaken as a vegetable) can be grown indoors with definite ease.
Growing up you may have witnessed your parent or teacher growing an avocado tree from a seed with nothing more than a jar of water and a few toothpicks, and this process is a great way to introduce your child to indoor gardening. However, if you’re looking for a long term “investment”, to grow a truly edible fruit, then you will want to start with an already potted small avocado tree. If the latter, be sure to pick a spot with a high ceiling as even indoor avocado trees can reach ten feet in height. Avocados are a great home gardening plant to introduce to children to at a very young age, allowing them to grow along with this fruit of the earth.
Tomatoes are a perfectly tasty antioxidant-rich indoor gardening item to get your kids involved with. They even serve as great anecdotal reference material for your children, as yet another victim of the fruit or vegetable debate. That’s right, although tomatoes are botanically a fruit, the Supreme Court has indeed ruled that they be labelled as a vegetable. “Controversy” aside, a single tomato plant can be grown with relative ease within a 6-inch pot, with seeds planted just a quarter of an inch deep in starter mix. Be sure to provide the pot with continuous and even exposure (turn the pot) to sunlight. Seeds will germinate within a week to a week and a half, and once the growing plant has reached over 3-inches in height, transplant them into potting soil, adding organic fertilizer two-weeks later. Indoor tomato plants require watering often, yet not so frequently that the soil becomes soggy. Children tend to enjoy growing tomatoes as the fruits (Supreme Court assertion aside) of their labor become colorfully evident in a relatively short amount of time. Before you know it you’ll be mixing truly organic tomato sauce into your next batch of spaghetti and meatballs!
Kids love carrots and they make for a vitamin-A rich and nutritious snack when on-the-go. The fact that carrots are also an easy-to-grow indoor vegetable is yet another big benefit to this bunny-biter. Root vegetable seeds require deeper potting mix and soil, but carrot seeds can thrive in just a foot and a half dig (height and width). Plant carrot seeds in rows within already watered carrot potting mix, 1-inch deep and apart to allow room for roots to grow. Like tomatoes, indoor carrots require lot of sunlight so keep the pot or planting box right by an expansive window, maintaining constant moisture (but not soggy) through the process. Germination takes approximately two weeks, soon after evidencing a sprout, followed by tiny orange nubs that will get your eager children/students excited.
4. Chili Peppers
Small to medium sized chili peppers, such as banana peppers, (high in vitamin-C) with only a mild kick make a great addition to your indoor gardening mix for older kids. Typical gardening soil won’t work as well for peppers so find a compost mix appropriate to the species from a local gardening store. Space the pepper seeds 2-inches apart, only half a centimeter deep into the compost mix. Since the seeds are kept close to the surface, heavy water spraying with do the job in keeping the compost moist, yet not soaked. With lots of even sun exposure and care your pepper seed variety can sprout from anywhere between one week to a month and a half.
This crunchy root vegetable snack and salad adornment has a nice dose of vitamin C and potassium and is one of the easiest indoor gardening vegetables to grow from seed to table. As mentioned above (carrots) root vegetables tend to require deeper planting, but radish seeds can thrive very well in your average potting box or pan, given their short reaching roots. When planting the seeds, cover them in only 1/4-inch of compost, and spray evenly to moisten the soil. Then, proceed to cover the box/pan/container with a thin layer of plastic wrap. This creates a greenhouse effect to speed up the germination process. Radishes require sunlight continuously throughout the day, so select a window that allows for dusk until dawn coverage. Once leaves begin to sprout remove the plastic layer, keep the soil moist, and watch with care as the little red bulbs grow one month from the date of planting. These edible roots provide your little gardening students with quick and tasty satisfaction.
Stay tuned to the Plant a Seed & See What Grows blog here for more on getting kids (and you!) excited about the organic gardening and seed-to-table concept.