Growing Herbs in a Bag
Herb seeds (choose one
kind: dill, parsley, basil or oregano,
or prepare 4 bags and
4 pots if you want to grow all four)
Small zip-lock plastic
bag | paper towel
Paper cup or 6" deep
clay pot | potting soil
Spray bottle for water
Magnifying glass |
additional cups or pots for transplants
Here's a way to give even the youngest children a
bird's-eye view of how plants emerge from tiny seeds. They'll be able to see
the baby plants develop every step of the way, through a plastic bag. The same
process will be taking place hidden in the dirt in a pot at the same time,
which will help the children understand what's going on in the world all around
them every spring!
Kids love this because they can see a process that's
usually hidden, in the dirt. They also can't get over how plants can get their
start with little more than air and water!
This method is how experienced gardeners test seeds for
"viability." That word means "alive." Sometimes, if you save seeds for more
than a year, you're not sure they will still sprout. So you test a few on a
moist paper towel first, in a zip-lock bag. For example, here are some
cantaloupe seeds that sprouted right away:
you're going to sprout smaller seeds, and wind up with some tasty herbs.
wet a paper towel. Squeeze out the water so that it's moist but not wet.
it into a square or rectangle to fit inside the zip-lock bag.
half the herb seeds on the towel. It's OK to push them around on the towel with
a finger so that they're fairly spread apart.
the towel into the bag. Seal, except for about inch of one corner.
the zip-lock bag flat in a warm spot that is out of direct sunlight.
fill the paper cup or clay pot full of moist potting soil. Make sure to poke
small drainage holes in the bottom of the paper cup, if you're using one.
the other half of the seeds in the soil as deep as the seed packet recommends.
Mist with water from the spray bottle. Keep the soil moist - never soaked.
the pot and the bag every day, using the magnifying glass if you have one. They
are racing to see which one is the best home to make the seeds germinate, or
other day, poke a finger inside the bag. If the towel feels dry, open the bag
and mist it with the spray bottle. Then reclose - except for one corner.
the soil in the pot and re-mist as needed.
the seeds begin to sprout, the hard seed coat that protected the seed will
split open. Inside, the seed has a bit of stored plant food, and a baby plant
just waiting to grow.
will enjoy learning that the first green leaves, called "cotyledons" (cot tle
LEE dins) have stored plant food curled up within the seed all along. That's
where the seed got the power to germinate. Soon thereafter, the plant's first
true leaves will emerge. It's time to transfer the sprouts from the baggie to
the soil, or else their roots can't sustain their growth any more, and they'll
the kids will let you, leave some of the seedlings on the paper towel, and
check to see how long before they die.
the other ones into additional paper cups or pots. Continue to watch the plants
change as they grow. It's really fun to send one home with each child after a
the plants look like the picture on the seed package, harvest a little at a
time to add to salads and other foods. Rinse what you're going to eat with
clean, cool water. Then add your homegrown herbs to your food. Nothing tastes
better . . . and it all started in a lowly plastic bag!