Indoor Gardening

    Even though winter is upon us, there are still some things you can do indoors to keep on growing, and see how different kinds of plants grow in indoor environments. Here are two indoor growing experiments you can try, one fast and one slow. 

    Fast growth: Beansprouts 

    Beans are known for growing very rapidly. To conduct this experiment, you’ll need: 

    Mung beans 
    A large glass jar 
    Cheesecloth 
    A large rubber band 

    Get the sprouting started: 

    1. Add ¼ cup of beans to your jar and fill it about half way with room temperature water. 
    2. Cover the top of the jar with the cheesecloth secured with the rubber band. 
    3. Place the jar in a dark corner. 
    4. Let it sit for 8-12 hours. Pour the water off, loosely put the lid over the top, and return the jar to its dark corner. 

    Keep the growing going: 

    1. Every 12 hours, thoroughly rinse the contents of the jar. Fill it with enough water to completely cover all of the beans and get them moving around. Swirl the jar to get them all moving to loosen them up. 
    2. Strain the water out through the cheesecloth and put the lid back on. This keeps the sprouts from drying out. 

    Within a few days, you’ll have a jar full of bean sprouts. You can eat them raw in salads, stir fry them in a bit of oil, or use them in other recipes. 

    Slow growth: Avocado pits 

    Avocado pits take a lot more patience to grow. Like beansprouts, they also get started in water; unlike beansprouts, they take weeks or months to grow. To conduct this experiment, you’ll need:  

    A small jar or a glass 
    Toothpicks 
    An avocado pit 

    Carefully clean all of the avocado flesh off of the pit. Poke three or four toothpicks about halfway down your pit around the sides, and place it so that the larger side of the pit is suspended into the glass or jar, and fill the jar with water. Keep the jar filled with enough water so that your pit is always partially in the water. Place the jar in a sunny window. 

    After a while, you’ll notice your pit begin to crack down the sides, then a root will emerge from the bottom. Some time after that, a small plant will begin to sprout from the top. 

    This can take weeks or even months to happen – the avocado plant you see in the pictures has been growing for three months! If after a month your pit hasn’t split yet, try it again with a new one. 

    Once your plant reaches three inches tall, you can transplant your avocado into a pot of dirt and it will continue to grow. If you live in an area that stays above freezing outside all year, you may be able to plant your avocado outside and have it grow into a tree; otherwise, it will have to remain a houseplant, and probably won’t produce any avocados for you. 

    There are other indoor gardening options you can try as well. Many people grow herbs like basil and oregano in pots in their kitchens. Cold temperatures don’t have to stop us from enjoying plants! 

    Watch this site for an outdoor gardening feature in the spring!