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womanswork presents dorian winslow's
the curious gardener
Children and gardening go together naturally, but too few kids experience the fun of getting down into the dirt. Try these projects to get them interested and don’t forget kids garden gloves to protect their hands.
What sounds like more fun to a child than growing garbage on a windowsill? For a “Garbage Garden” start with carrots and pineapples, potatoes, and other vegetable waste bound for the garbage pail. It’s educational and inexpensive too. There’s no need for pots either. You just recycle cottage cheese or yogurt containers (poke drainage holes in the bottom).
To start your garden cut ¾” or so off the top of the round end of a carrot. Press the cut end into a container of damp potting soil, and put it on a sunny windowsill. Keep the soil moist, and a green forest will soon start to sprout. It won’t actually grow a new carrot, but it will create green foliage. Cut leafy pineapple tops with only ¼” of the pineapple fruit left on. Clean away any flesh and let it dry overnight. Firm the top into a few inches of damp potting soil and new leaves will eventually emerge. The old ones will fall away. If you have a clove of garlic or a green onion in the refrigerator that are starting to sprout, save the root ends and plant them in soil with the sprouts facing up. Keep moist and in several weeks— voila! New shoots and new roots!
White potatoes grow quickly. Look for old ones with nubbins of developing shoots (called eyes). Cut a potato in half, each with 1 or 2 eyes, let it dry overnight, then plant it cut side down. Keep moist and you’ll have an indoor garden in no time. If you plant it deep enough you can grow a new potato. For more information on how potatoes grow, click here.
This article first appeared in April, 2010 and has been updated.