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Overhead view of an avocado seed planted in a jar indoors

Indoor Fruit and Vegetable Gardening Projects for Families

9 practical, edible, and just plain fun growing projects

Jodi Torpey

Houseplants do a lot for us: They connect us to nature, help improve indoor air quality, and they make decorating a snap. Beyond the usual fern, succulent, fiddle-leaf fig tree, and other sturdy houseplants, there are plenty of other plants to grow inside that can offer the added rewards of delicious kitchen ingredients, nutrition, and a fun planting project for the whole family.

If you’d like to try something different, here are ideas and tips for edible and fun indoor growing projects.

Turn Common Household Items and Scraps into Indoor Gardening Supplies

Before you plant, you’ll need supplies, many of which you likely already have at home. Start your indoor garden project with a scavenger hunt.

Search the kitchen for:

  • Jars
  • Containers and milk jugs that could be cut into containers
  • Toothpicks
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Sponges

You should also mine your kitchen discards for vegetable scraps, fruit cores, ends, seeds, and pits.

Along with these, some projects require potting soil and a packet of seeds.

Grow with Roots, Shoots, and Tops

Green Onions: Save the root ends of green onions and cut them ¼ inch above the bulb. Stand them in a jar and pour in just enough water to submerge the roots. Change the water every few days so it stays crystal clear, and the greens will grow.

Celery and Lettuce: The hearts (bottoms) of heads of lettuce and celery can grow in water, too. Put the base of the heart in a shallow container with about ½ inch of warm water. Place the container on a windowsill that gets plenty of sun and change the water every few days. In about a week, leaves will sprout and grow.

You may also like: Fermenting at Home: Tips from an Expert

Sweet Potato Vine: Poke three or four bamboo skewers (or double up large toothpicks) perpendicularly into the top of a whole sweet potato, then prop it in a jar so that it stands pointy end-down halfway out of the jar. Fill the jar with water so that the bottom two-thirds of the potato are submerged. In a few weeks, roots will sprout and a vine will begin to grow heart-shaped leave.

Carrot Tops: Recycle carrot tops by cutting ends of whole carrots that show a little green. Put the tops in a shallow saucer of water, cut side-down. Place the saucer on a windowsill and refill with water as needed. The tops will sprout frilly green shoots in one to two weeks. When planted in a small container, the greens will keep growing, and `you can use them in dishes like pesto. Keep in mind no carrots will grow.

Grow More Edible Greens Inside

Garlic Greens: Garlic cloves can grow greens that you can snip and toss into salads and stir fry dishes. Choose a small container with drainage holes, add potting soil, and set the container on a saucer to catch water. Moisten the soil with water and push each garlic clove, skin on and pointed end up, into the soil so the top third of each is showing. Space cloves 1 to 2 inches apart. You can arrange the cloves in a circle, rows, or a swirl. Keep the soil moist and in a week, the cloves will sprout greens for several harvests. Don’t expect garlic heads to form, though.

Microgreens: Microgreens are easy to grow and can be harvested in about two weeks. For this growing project you’ll need:

  • A packet of microgreen seed mix or sprouting seeds, like broccoli or pea
  • A shallow plastic container with holes poked in the bottom and a tray to catch excess water
  • Several inches of loose, well-draining seed starting mix or potting soil
  • A spray bottle for water

Follow these steps for planting, managing, and harvesting microgreens:

  1. Fill the container with potting soil, moisten it with water, and scatter the seeds over the top of the soil.
  2. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, then spray it with water to moisten.
  3. Place the container on a sunny windowsill or right under grow lights.
  4. Spray regularly with water to keep seeds moist, but not soggy.
  5. Microgreens will sprout in about a week. When greens are about 2 inches tall and have two sets of leaves, snip them with scissors. Use the microgreens raw or cook them up.

Garden Indoors with Seeds

Sponge-Sprouted Seeds: Carrot, spinach, and lettuce seeds can sprout on a damp sponge. Use colored sponges, either whole or cut into shapes; rinse them and squeeze out the water and put them on a saucer. Sprinkle seeds on top of the sponges and use a toothpick to poke seeds into holes. Mist the seeds with water and cover with a clear cover or plastic wrap. Keep the seeds moist. In a few days, they’ll sprout as sponge-top decorations. When that happens, remove the cover.

Avocado Seeds: Place the pit of an avocado in water, following similar instructions as growing a sweet potato vine (see above) by suspending half of it in water with toothpicks. Roots will sprout and a tree will start to grow from the center of the pit. Be patient. It may take a month or two for roots to begin to grow. Once a small tree forms, plant it in a container with potting soil. Water it when the top of the soil gets dry. Soon you’ll have a home-grown avocado tree for a houseplant.

Trees: Orange, grapefruit, and lemon seeds hold the promise of little fruit trees. Find a small container with drainage holes and fill it with moist potting soil. Plant seeds about twice as deep as the seed is thick (for a ¼-inch seed, plant ½-inch deep). Keep the soil moist and wait up to four weeks for seeds to sprout. Because trees grow slowly, you won’t need to repot them until they outgrow their original containers.