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BONNIE'S GARDEN--Indoor Gardening Projects for Kids (or the Young-at-Heart)

Kids love growing things. When I was a kid, my mother used to stick a sweet potato in a glass of water and let it vine around the window for the winter. I did the same thing for my two sons but, being a gardener, looked for other plant projects to do, as well. So here is a list of some fun things to try: 1. Grow a carrot forest--cut the tops off carrots, leaving a 1/2 inch stump. Place the stump in a saucer of water, near a bright window and in only a week or two, you will grow a little forest of ferny carrot tops. 2. And just in case you've never done a sweet potato--place a sweet potato, bottom side down, in a glass with water covering the bottom half of the tuber. Place in a sunny window and, in a few weeks, a pretty bright green vine will appear. Even though it will last only a few months, it will grow quickly enough to vine around a window. If you do this in the spring (after mid-April), you can detach the little shoots when they are about six inches tall, pot them into little pots and plant them outside the middle of May. At summer's end, dig and harvest your own sweet potatoes when the prolific vines begin to die back. 3. Citrus--Next time you slice an orange or peel a tangerine, save a few of the biggest seeds. Plant two or three per four inch pot and keep moist and in a sunny window. It will take several weeks before tiny seedlings appear. Over time, given sun and a little fertilizer occasionally, it will make an attractive glossy leaved tree. 4. Avocados--Save an avocado seed and place toothpicks around the middle to form "spokes." Set the seed in a class of water, allowing the "spokes" to rest on the rim of the glass. Make sure water always touches the bottom inch of the seed. it can take a month or so but the seed will sprout. Once it sprouts and has produced both roots and a stem, transplant to a small pot, leaving the tip of the seed exposed to the light. Keep in a sunny window. 5. Paperwhite Narcissus--Paperwhite bulbs can be forced into bloom indoors in as little as three to four weeks. When the bulbs are available (September through December) choose a watertight container about six inches across and three to four inches deep. Add a layer of pebbles on the bottom, arrange the bulbs on top (shoots up) and fill in around the bulbs with more pebbles. Add water so that it just shows among the top of the pebbles but does not completely cover the bulb. Keep in a bright window and within a few days leaves will start to grow. At the end of three weeks or so, you'll have a bouquet of highly scented white flowers. 6. Pineapple--cut the top off a ripe pineapple. Organically grown works best for this. Peel off the bottom layer of leaves until you have a one inch stem. Place in a cup of water just to cover the stem. Change water weekly. Keep in a moderately bright spot. When roots appear, pot in a terra cotta pot. If you want your plant to produce it's own pineapple, then wait until it is at least three years old. Place the whole plant into a clear plastic bag with a ripe apple (apples release ethylene gas which can initiate budding) and seal. Leave for about six weeks. If a bloom doesn't appear within the next three months, wait a year and try again. 7. Plant seeds for your favorite herbs, flowers, or veggies. Choose your seeds and read the back of the package to be sure that starting seeds indoors is recommended. The back of the pack will also tell you when and how deep to plant the seeds. Use seed starting soil or "Jiffy" pellets (compressed peat) to pot your seeds. Place in a sunny window. Whichever project you choose, your kids will enjoy the sense of accomplishment of making something grow on their own and, maybe, discover a life-long love of gardening.

Posted: 3/17/2014 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: BonniePega, Bonnie'sGarden
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