Winter Greens: Indoor Plants From Common Veggies
February 9, 2009
you feel a little lonely for the green days of summer, get
busy and plant something. At the end of December I planted a
few daffodils and crocus bulbs in a large indoor pot with
potting soil. I saved these from a group I purchased for
planting in October. I actually planted the bulk of them
outdoors in early December. I am in Western Pennsylvania, and
am hoping they bloom this spring. They should have gone in the
ground in October, but....
Today, February 9, five daffodil booms brighten our day,
and the crocuses, though growing, have shown no blooms yet.
Already, a breath of spring. You see the photo to the right.
The grill over the pot was to discourage our two cats from
making other use of the soil, although we find that it also
serves to hold the plants erect.
We found some fun things to plant today. These will produce
some green very soon, and will be fun to watch. The sections
below are part of an article from a site called
Kids Gardening. We hope you will grow something today, and
will go to that site for even more fun ideas.
Citrus are plentiful in winter and the seeds in
oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and limes are easy to grow into
new trees. Fill a 4-inch-diameter pot with moistened potting
soil. Remove whole seeds from the fruit and plant three to
four of them one inch deep in the pot. The seeds should sprout
in two to four weeks and you’ll have a mini citrus orchard.
Keep the seedlings well watered for about six weeks and then
transplant individual trees into bigger pots. It will be quite
a while before you see citrus flowers (let alone fruit), but
the leaves smell like whatever citrus you’re growing so be
sure your children do some “rub and sniff” tests.
If the small seeds are a hit, try growing big seeds
of tropical fruits such as mango and avocado. Let an avocado
pit dry out for a day or two, then plant it in a
6-inch-diameter plastic pot filled with moistened potting
soil. Leave the tip of the pit exposed to air. A fun way to
sprout avocadoes is to suspend a pit over a glass of water.
Poke three toothpicks around the middle of a pit and rest the
toothpicks on the rim of the glass. Add water until it just
touches the bottom of the pit. Kids can watch the roots and
sprout emerge. Cool! It can take a month or two for roots to
appear. If using the glass method, plant the pit in potting
soil once a sprout emerges.
Mangoes are a little more difficult. Soak the hard seed for
a week in warm water, replacing the water every day. Then pot
it like an avocado and settle down for a wait: it can take up
to four months for a sprout to emerge.
Off With Their (Carrot)
Heads!You can force many root crops (beets, parsnips, and
carrots, for instance) to sprout new growth by beheading them.
Kids love the chopping part. Slice off the head end along with
one to two inches of root and place it in a saucer filled with
pebbles for support and water. In a week or so new greens
should appear from the top. Then snug the root into a
container filled with potting soil.
This beheading technique also works well with pineapples.
Cut off the top inch of the fruit and scoop out most of the
yellow flesh inside the crown, leaving the core. Let the top
dry for a day or two, then place it in a tray filled with
pebbles for support and water. Roots will appear and new
shoots will sprout from the top in about two weeks, and soon
you’ll have a fantastic tropical plant. To continue growing
the new pineapple, transplant it into a pot, covering the
crown and roots with soil.
New Tuber Plants
Tuberous roots — potatoes, sweet potatoes, and ginger — are
another group of root crops that are easy to grow. Select old
potatoes with eyes that are ready to sprout. The more
shriveled the potato is, the better. Prop up the potato with
toothpicks (like an avocado pit) over a water-filled glass or
place a potato piece with one to two eyes in a container of
moistened potting soil. Within a week a new sprout will
Ginger is particularly fun to grow because both the cut
ends and the glossy new leaves (when broken) emit a strong
gingery aroma. Suspend a chunk of ginger with toothpicks over
a glass of water or place it in a container of moistened
potting soil. If using the water method, transfer the new
plant into a pot once roots appear.
For a garbage-can plant that’s both smelly and
edible, try garlic or onions. Plant old cloves of garlic or
bulbs of onions just below the surface in containers filled
with moistened potting soil. Within a few weeks you’ll see
sprouts. Unlike the other garbage-can plants described above,
you can eat these greens in salads and stir-fries.
Although it’s fun and easy to grow each of these
plants individually in its own pot, you can also make an
indoor gardenscape for kids to play with once the original
plants are established. Select a large container (16 inches in
diameter or bigger) and fill the bottom third with empty
plastic water bottles. Then fill the rest of the container
with moistened potting soil. Have your kids select which
plants to move into the big pot and start designing. You can
make “jungles” for kids to populate with toy animals, city
streets for toy cars, or exotic foreign “worlds” to explore.
Make sure the pot gets three to five hours of sun a day and
enough water and your kids will have an indoor play area that
will grow for months, keeping them entertained and their
imaginations stimulated without your constant input or a
single high-tech gadget.