You don't need to be a grown-up with a huge garden to grow your own veg; children can sprout them inside on a windowsill and then transfer them outside to a pot. And you don't even need to buy seeds – you can get them for free by 'recycling' the seeds from the veg you eat.


Jennie Pollard and her daughter Ruby did this, saving the seeds from the peppers, chillies and tomatoes they'd been eating, drying them and then germinating and growing little veggie seedlings on a windowsill.

It’s not a quick activity, this one – it could take a couple of weeks before anything much happens – but, there’s something really special about spotting those first sproutings. Definitely worth the wait!

Here’s how to recycle – and sprout – your veg seeds

You will need:

  • Vegetable seeds (red, yellow or green peppers are the easiest but you can try chillies and tomatoes too)
  • Bowl
  • Zip-lock bags (optional)
  • Paper towel or coffee filter paper
  • Compost
  • Small containers, such as yoghurt pots, egg cartons or flowerpots

Step 1: Seed Harvesting and Drying

Carefully ‘harvest’ the seeds from discarded bits of peppers and collect them in a bowl. If you’re using chillies, do wear gloves and make sure your child doesn’t put their hand in their mouth. With tomatoes, you’ll need to cut up uneaten tomatoes and delve squashily around for the seeds.

Dry the seeds by leaving them in the sunlight for 1 week, turning them occasionally. You might find the seeds dry faster if you put them in a zip-lock bag and tape them to a window.

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how to grow seeds from vegetable seeds step 1
Pic: Jennie Pollard

Step 2: Seed Germination

Once they’re dry (they should be hard enough that they don’t dent if you bite them), it’s now time to germinate them.

Take a sheet of paper towel or a coffee filter paper, dampen it slightly and place a few seeds on it. Repeat, using as many of the seeds as you want to (you can keep the rest for another time).

Leave the paper with the seeds on anywhere out of direct sunlight. You can put them inside a zip-lock bag, if you like (this will act like a mini greenhouse, encouraging up the germination).

After 5 to 7 days, you should see your seeds starting to sprout.

how to grow seeds from vegetable seeds step 2
Pic: Jennie Pollard

Step 3: Transplanting Seedlings

Fill some old yoghurt pots, flower pots or egg cartons with some compost.

Dampen the compost and poke a little hole in it. Then very carefully transfer your seedling to the holes in the pots. Try not to touch the seedling’s roots.

Once a seedling is in its hole, push a little compost gently over it until the whole root is covered.

Now watch your seedlings grow!

how to grow seeds from vegetable seeds step 3
Pic: Jennie Pollard

When your seedlings look like small plants, you can transfer them to larger pots which you keep outside. Make sure you water them regularly, and await your homegrown veggies!

  • Jennie Pollard originally posted this idea on the fabulous Family Lockdown Tips & Ideas Facebook group before sharing it with us. You can order a new e-book, £1.99, of the group's best ideas, edited by the group's creator Claire Balkind and with all profits going to Barnardo’s charity.

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Danielle GraphCommunity Manager