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Make a greenhouse: What can you grow?

Recommended for ages 5+

Estimated time: 20 minutes

Growing food strengthens your understanding of nutrition, food production and healthy living. 

The city of Oakland has many community gardens that enable residents to connect with neighbors and grow organic flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs. With lots of sunlight, Oakland is a great place for growing produce. 

Did you know there are Oakland organizations like Acta Non Verba and The Oakland Public Library that work with young people to improve our local food systems and promote healthy communities? When the library is open, some branches have free seed lending programs. What kinds of seeds can you grow right now in your garden or window greenhouse?

A greenhouse is a structure that lets in light and is used for growing and protecting plants. 

In a greenhouse, you can better control the temperature and humidity (moisture level) that plants need to grow, especially when it’s cold outside.

Did you know seeds don’t need soil to start germinating? Germinating means to sprout or develop. You can place seeds in a homemade greenhouse and they will start germinating right away. 

Today, we challenge you to create your own greenhouse garden. Using seeds and your homemade greenhouse, you can plant seeds and track the progress in a nature journal. Dried beans work great for watching how seeds sprout and peas, chives, cilantro, basil, and oregano seeds work great for starting your own garden. 

Having trouble finding seeds? Try using the kitchen scraps that you would normally compost to regrow common fruits and vegetables.

Think about…

Got kids under five? Try using scraps to regrow vegetables or have them decorate the greenhouse and put beans or seeds into the bag!

Make your own greenhouse


  • Paper 
  • Small paper towel
  • Ziplock bag
  • Tape
  • Scissors 
  • Things to draw with – markers, pencils, crayons
  • Seeds (including beans)
  • Greenhouse journal, or something to record your observations


1. Print and decorate the greenhouse template, or use the template as inspiration and make your own.

Make sure you cut out the center square. This is where the bag will go and allows you to watch your seeds sprout.

2. Dampen your paper towel and place 2 seeds in the middle. 

Use only 1 or 2 seeds so your roots have room to grow.

Make sure the paper towel is not soaking wet. If it’s too wet, the seeds will grow mold.

3. Fold the paper towel so that it fits into the ziplock bag and seal the bag closed. You do not want any air to get in or out of the bag. You’re creating a little micro-climate in there!

4. Tape your bag to the back of your greenhouse and display in a window that gets some direct sunlight each day.

Once the seedlings have reached the top of the bag, remove them and place in a pot with soil. If the roots grow into the paper towel, just pot your seedlings with the paper towel still attached. Paper towels are biodegradable.

5. Check on your seeds every few days to watch for new growth. 

Take notes in your greenhouse journal so you can track the progress of the seed as it grows.

Take a photo of your greenhouse and share it with us using #OMCA, and then pass it along to your friends and family.