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Gardening in a bag gives young gardeners a start
URBANA, Ill. — An easy way to give young gardeners a successful and enjoyable experience with gardening that will lead to a lifetime hobby is gardening in a bag, said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.

“Even as winter approaches, this is something that can be done indoors,” said Ron Wolford. “You should use plastic bags, specifically, heavy-duty, Ziploc freezer bags. Do not use sandwich bags as they will split and rip open easily.

“With a sunny window and a few seeds, a garden will grow.” Wolford offered some step-by-step instructions for getting started.

“Purchase a box of heavy-duty Ziploc freezer bags, pint or quart size, and a bag of potting soil,” he said. “Choose some easy-to-grow seeds like basil, chives, garlic chives, or lettuce. The chives will grow like grass and can be cut back to be used in soups, cottage cheese, or on a baked potato. Combine some ‘Black-seeded Simpson’ and “Red Sails’ lettuce to grow a colorful, nutritious display.”

The bag should be filled with potting soil. Be sure to punch the soil into the corners of the bag. This will allow the bag to sit upright on the windowsill. Fill the bag to within a couple of inches of the top. You should be able to zip the bag shut.

“Sprinkle a few seeds on top of the soil and lightly cover with soil. Water so the top few inches of soil are moist and zip the bag shut and place in a sunny window,” Wolford said.

“Now you have your own mini-greenhouse. Check the bag every few days for green growth. When you see green shoots emerge, open the bag, allowing the plants to grow. Water the bag when the soil is dry but be careful not to overwater. On very cold winter nights, you might want to move the garden bags away from the window.”

Wolford said gardening in a bag provides an easy way to introduce children to gardening. It is a great yearly activity that builds memories for years to come.

For more tips about gardening with kids, visit U of I Extension’s website, My First Garden, at:

Published in the January 18, 2006 issue of Farm World.