Guide to Growing Greens

During winter months, our diet gets flooded with heavy foods that slow us down and make us feel even more tired than we are. But it does not have to be that way! Valley talked with Brian Kinney, owner of The Barn at Lemont, to find out how college students can grow fresh, energizing foods right from their apartment or dorm.


The simplest way to grow your own food indoors is sprouting, says Kinney. “Sprouting seeds are similar to any other kind of seed. They grow quickly and are highly nutritious,” says Kinney.

All this process requires is a mason jar with a draining lid, some sprouting seeds, and only a small portion of your time and effort. Sprouting seeds can be bought locally or online — they are even sold on Amazon.

To begin the process, you put a tablespoon of seeds into your jar. Then, add some water and allow the seeds to soak overnight. From there, you rinse and drain the seeds twice daily for one week. At the end of the week, you’ll find yourself with a jar full of sprouts.

At this point, you can use a regular lid on the mason jar and keep that in the fridge. Rinsing and draining the spouts once a day is still a good idea. Kinney recommends adding these sprouts to soups, sandwiches, or salads. “A little bit of crunch and lots of flavor,” says Kinney.

The best part about sprouts, besides being extremely easy to produce, is that they are packed with flavor and extremely nutritious.

“Six days from tablespoon of seeds to this,” says Kinney as he picked out some greens and enjoyed their flavor.


Microgreens are the next step in complexity when it comes to growing your own food indoors during the winter.

Microgreens take from two to three weeks to grow. “You’re intensively panting baby plants and growing them in a tray until they reach about 3 to 4 inches and get their second set of leaves,” says Kinney.

You can grow many different foods in form of microgreens, from radishes and broccoli to beets and even popcorn.

“When you try a baby piece of broccoli you get this intense broccoli flavor from just a little nibble, so gourmet chefs love them because of their high flavor,” says Kinney.

Full Size Plants

The next step of growing food is growing full size plants that produce lettuce and other greens. This process is less conducive for college students as it requires a grow light.

The suns not up long enough in the winter to grow those so you can’t just put it by the window,” says Kinney. “Even if you have a really sunny spot there’s just not enough daylight so you would need to invest in a grow light.”

Grow lights are different from regular lights as they emit light on the electromagnetic spectrum that is appropriate for photosynthesis.

“Without a light you’re just kind of keeping them alive, you’re not really growing anything,” says Kinney.

Kinney recommends using these easy processes to grow your own food and deviate from traditional heavy winter foods. “When you start growing your own foods in the winter, it gets rid of that winter slump,” says Kinney.

Valley wishes you the best on your indoor-gardening endeavors. Tweet us @Valleymag and tells us how your plants turn out!