By Charlie Nardozzi
With the outdoor garden tucked in for the season in most areas, all the gardening attention has moved indoors. Finding winter gardening projects to do with your kids can be a challenge, but one activity that’s always fun is growing exotic plants found in the grocery store from their seeds. Two of the best ones to try are citrus and avocado. Each will produce trees that may never produce fruit, but the fact that you can start these plants from seed is amazing to kids and provides a good educational opportunity. Here’s how.
Select a number of ripe avocados from the grocery store and save the seeds/pits after having a delicious snack. Wash off each pit with cold water. Insert four strong toothpicks into the avocado pit just far enough that you can lift the avocado pit with one toothpick; place the toothpicks, evenly spaced, around the pit about halfway up. Suspend the avocado pit over a dish filled with water with the root side down (the broader side). Position the pit so that the bottom half is resting in the water and the pit is supported by the toothpicks on the glass rim. Place the dish and pit in a sunny window, and change the water every few days to keep it fresh. Your avocado can take three to six weeks to sprout. Have your kids observe the pit daily and record any changes. Once it has fully sprouted and leaves and roots have formed, plant it in a pot filled with moistened potting soil, keeping the pit only half buried. Place the plant in full sun and keep it well watered.
Another exotic fruit to plant is citrus. Have kids select oranges, grapefruits, and lemons from the grocery store. Cut them open and look at the seeds. Explain to your kids that the part we eat is actually food for the seeds and that when those seeds are ready, they will start to sprout and grow. Sometimes mature citrus seeds will already be starting to sprout inside the fruits. Have your kids remove some seeds, let them dry, and then plant them in labeled pots filled with moistened potting soil. Keep the plants in a warm location. In a few weeks, your kids should see some citrus sprouts.