How to Grow Your Own Dorm Garden in 6 Easy Steps


By Jamie Leventhal Brief Disclaimer: This is not an article for how to grow marijuana in your dorm without your RA noticing. However, if you want to liven up your living space with a bit of green from fresh herbs and the occasional vegetable, then read on.

1. Gather your supplies!

There are 4 basic items you will need for any small indoor garden:

  • A pot
  • Drainage for pot
  • Seeds
  • Soil

Let’s start with the pot and its drainage. Now I could tell you to go out to your local hardware store, but I’m writing in an environmental publication for college20141028_220433 readers. So instead, I like to use materials that most students have access to in a process called upcycling. Plastic water bottles function well as pots (and have the added aesthetic benefit of seeing the plant’s root system as it develops) and used yogurt cups can replace traditional pottery drainage vessels.

Soil and seeds are a little bit more difficult to come by, especially in the Fall and Winter. If your local hardware store isn’t selling seeds during this time of year, there are other solutions. The next time you take your weekly pilgrimage to Whole Foods, look out for produce that comes from relatively small plants. I like snap peas, which are extremely easy to grow.

2. Set up your garden!

Now that you have gathered the materials, it’s time to get growing. With a pair of scissors, carefully cut the tops off the bottle. While I don’t need to include the “ask an adult for help” clause in an article for college students, I really do suggest that you take caution. Water bottles can be surprisingly slippery!

1414552168406Every pot needs drainage, because excess water in the soil can cause moldy roots. Take the scissors and cut 3-6 holes in the bottom of the bottle for water to flow through.


For those who are more artistically gifted (unlike myself), feel free to mark up your bottle and yogurt cup with cool designs using a sharpie. The kids who I babysit are more artistic than I am, so naturally I left mine blank. Additionally, I would highly suggest using a label to mark your plants because seedlings can look very similar. Now we’re ready for the fun part.


3. Planting

This next step can get a little messy, so I would recommend doing this in the bathroom. Take your soil, seeds and potting system to a sink…and try to avoid eye 20141029_111637contact with others. Fill up your pot almost to the top (leave about an inch of space) and lightly compress it. Place 1, 2 seeds maximum in the pot, and put another½ inch of soil on top. You should never plant more than 2 seeds, because I’ve learned the hard way that seeds are surprisingly successful (there are now 16 tomato plants growing at my house in Pennsylvania). Water heavily, and set in a sunny windowsill.

4. Sit back and rellaaax

Now that you’ve planted your little green wonders, you can get on with your daily life. Don’t worry if you don’t see any growth for the first few days; my red pepper plant (as seen above) took over a week to sprout. Growing indoors isn’t the quickest way to grow a plant, because your plants will have limited time in the sun through a window. Patience is definitely recommended, but I promise that the outcome is worth it.

5. Everyday Maintenance

Plants are the best pets because they need so little upkeep (and you never have to clean up their ‘accidents’). Watering should be done every 2-4 days, depending on how moist the soil is. Luckily, the drainage system acts as an additional water source, so have no fear Chemistry 101 students! Your plants will survive through your frequent mental breakdowns and all-nighters. I would also suggest rotating your plants 90 degrees once or twice a day. Plants tend to lean towards the sun, and if they are bent too much they could become permanently unstable.

6. Casually show off your vivacious new garden to your friends

I would recommend:

  • Waiting until they bring it up
  • Pretending like it was a labor-intensive process, only meant for those who are truly dedicated to indoor gardening
  • Using pretentious phrases like, “I purposely chose to pair the rosemary with the cilantro because I think they compliment each other aromatically, don’t you agree?” and “a few weeks ago, my little gathering of plants was chosen for ‘Tumblr’s Garden of the Week,’ but I wish my pea blossoms had been highlighted.”


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