A Gardening Activity for Kids: Make Indoor Gardens

Growing small gardens indoors is a great gardening activity for kids because they can design, create, and look after their own worlds without feeling overwhelmed by adult-sized responsibilities.

| October/November 1992

If your kids are glued to the television set all day, it's time to unpry them. Here's a method that they'll actually enjoy: introduce them to gardening. By teaching children how to plant and grow indoor gardens, you allow them to create their own magical worlds. It's also a good way to teach responsibility and respect for the environment. So why not help your budding gardener bring a bit of the outdoors inside this fall? Below are four easy designs that will encourage your children to put down the TV guide and pick up a gardening tool. 

A Miniature Herb Garden

Herbs are not only beautiful and easy to grow, but they come in an abundance of varieties. Children may enjoy choosing their design around a specific theme, such as "lovely scents" for making potpourri, or "culinary herbs" for making harvest treats. No matter which theme your gardener decides upon, there are some basic supplies you will need: a rectangular windowsill planter or other flower pot, potting compost for seedlings, pebbles for drainage, seeds or started plants, and a small trowel or shovel. 

If your child enjoys the wonderful smells of potpourri, suggest a garden filled with the sweet aromas of lavender, lemon thyme, mints, lemon balm, and scented geraniums.Your child will take great pride in drying the flowers and leaves and then handing them out as potpourri gifts for family and friends. (If your children start their gardening project now, they will be able to give batches of home-grown potpourri to others over the holiday season.) 

Culinary herb gardens always go over big with children, too. Among favorite harvest treats are peppermint, spearmint, nasturtiums, and basil. When buying your herbs, remember that some are easily grown from seeds—like nasturtiums, basil, and dill—and others are slower growing and better purchased as small plants—like mint, thyme, and sage. 

One thing to remember is that mints will frequently take over any container they are planted in. However, if you are still interested, you have two planting options: First, you can choose to grow only mint in your container. Explain to your children that they do not need a whole lot of plants to enjoy an indoor herb garden. You can also highlight the ever-popular frosted mint treats. 

This delicacy is easily made by dipping several mint leaves into lightly beaten egg white and granulated sugar, and allowing them to dry. (You'll be surprised how happy your kids will be with a garden of only mint.) Your other option is to keep the mint in a small container embedded into the garden, which will keep the roots bound in a contained area. That way it won't take over the whole garden. 

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