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Clear Container Gardening

Kids love to plant seeds, watch them sprout and hopefully produce something edible. Unfortunately, a lot of the exciting stuff happens beneath the stem, inside the soil.

So why not take advantage of the transparency of glass and sow some jar gardens?

Growing small plants, bulbs and legumes from seeds in a see-through container really lets kids witness the important role roots play when it comes to a growing plant.

Beans and legumes

These types of seeds can sprout quickly and easily on only a plain, wet paper towel. Thrift stores stock an almost endless variety of glass jars, terrariums and storage jars with lids – just have a walk through and pick up whatever looks interesting. Even used jam jars you have at home will work.

Soak a few seeds each of pinto beans, navy beans or lima beans (or whatever bean you wish) overnight to soften the outside.

Where to purchase? 

It’s better to purchase your beans from a garden centre rather than the bulk bin of your supermarket. Grocery store beans may or may not sprout.

The next day, spray a paper towel with water until damp (not soaking) and put in the bottom of a jar.

Lay a few seeds of each variety on top of the paper towel, put the lid on the jar and put near a window with indirect light. 

Strong stem 

Turn the jar halfway every day to ensure a strong stem and straight plant and do not let the paper towel dry out. You should see signs of life in five to ten days.

You can either let the plants grow in the jar to see how big they get or you can transfer them to pots and continue growing them on a windowsill or outside.


Whether you start the seeds yourself or purchase a few small plants from the garden centre, it’s fun to arrange them in an enclosed glass container and watch the root systems grow.

Your kids can turn them into fairy gardens with jem-like stones and little fairy figures.

Make sure they receive adequate light and don’t dry out. Terrarium gardens are more successful if misted as there’s no drainage in a glass container and overwatering can cause root rot.

An inexpensive mini spray bottle from your local discount store should do the trick.

Bulb jars

Yes, there is such a thing as a bulb jar! It’s a glass container that narrows near the top and then widens again. You can practically force any kind of bulb in this type of jar.

Daffodil and hyacinth are the two most common.

Purchase the bulbs from a garden centre in the fall (you can probably find the jars there too), fill with water until the bottom of the bulb just makes contact with the water and place in a sunny window.

Before long, you should see roots on the bottom and green shoots on top that will eventually turn into leaves and flowers.

Root vegetables

Similar to the bulb jar idea, you can easily take a small sweet potato, stick a few toothpicks into the upper half to prevent it from falling into a jar filled almost to the top with water, submerge the lower half of the sweet potato in the water and watch it grow.  

Change the water when it gets cloudy to prevent rot. In about five days you should see the start of a great root system on the bottom and a lovely vine on top!


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