We Hosted a Virtual Plant a Seed Day Party

Big Green’s Chicago Team decided to do #PlantASeedDay social distancing style. We’re delighted to share our planting and cooking practices with everyone, and encourage you to host your own socially distanced planting party!


Marla’s been drinking a lot of tea this remote season, and wonderfully, those tea bags are perfect for germinating seeds as they have already been sanitized in boiling water! When saving tea bags, they should be dried out and then resoaked prior to planting.

To utilize tea bags in planting, line a seeding tray with damp paper towels, and then arrange your tea bags in a row, leaving gaps between. Slit a small hole into each tea bag, pop a seed or two into each, and then spray the entire tray until moist. Leave on a sunny windowsill!

Marla’s looking forward to starting a packet of hollyhock seeds saved from the Hopi Reservation and sent by a friend, as well as an Illinois Native Prairie Wildflower Mix from the Illinois Audubon Society.


Recently, there’s been a video floating around suggesting folks in the midst of a panic attack to bite into a lemon as a grounding technique. Beyond that sharp sensation as relief, lemon-infused water supports immunity and digestion, and the smell of citrus can reduce anxiety and stress

Austin had some lemons in his fridge, so he filled a few empty keurig cups with potting soil and planted a few lemon seeds! 

While they likely won’t grow to produce fruit, the leaves will still provide a calming and uplifting scent.


In December, Ilana received some farm-grown quinoa from her Ecuadorian host family. She will be planting them as a way to feel close to friends who are far! Although quinoa is adapted to the Andean climate, Ilana will try to start these seeds indoors, near a heater, until the soil temperature is at least 60 degrees F.


Elisa drinks arabic coffee at home, using Chicago roasted, Assyrian-made Anu Coffee. What to do with all the coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup? Collect and use for germinating pepper seeds, that’s what!

Elisa dipped two napkins into her cup of wet coffee grounds, and placed one in the bottom of a plastic container. She placed a few jalapeño seeds on top, and then covered with the second damp paper napkin. She will close the tupperware and leave in a warm, sunny place.


Last fall, Big Green and Taylor Elementary held Back to School Bash, a daylong event encouraging students to engage in different garden practices, including harvesting and seed saving. Amina will be planting cilantro and dill seeds saved from that day!

Amina used a plastic container that previously housed store-bought mushrooms and already had drainage holes, and filled it with a mix of potting soil, coffee grounds, and ground egg shells. A few spritzes of water, and the seeds are ready to be placed out on her balcony where they will get plenty of sun. 

Amina also indulged us in a mini pickling activity. In a jar full of mini peppers and garlic, Amina sprinkled a herb mix (salt, pepper, coriander, dill), and then poured water, lemon juice, and vinegar on top. The jar will be stored in the fridge, ready to be eaten after a week or two!


Katherine buys seeds in bulk from her local store, the Dill Pickle Co-Op, so she has plenty stored in her pantry to make seed-based energy bites! While the recipe is flexible to fit what you have in your kitchen, the essential ingredients are dates, seed butter (peanut butter, tahini, etc), and seeds/nuts (pumpkin, chia, sesame, coconut flakes, almonds etc)! Pulse or mix all of the wet ingredients together until it is the consistency of a mushy dough, then chop and add your seeds/nuts. Roll the dough into little balls and coat with shredded coconut, chia seeds, or cocoa/cacao powder. Set in the fridge for 30 min until firm. Enjoy eating all the fiber and natural sugars! For more detailed recipes, try this super seed recipe or this chocolate one.


Sam provided us with a tour of his home garden/outdoor landscape to plant a vision seed for a food secure future! Some of Sam’s growing methods include: a vertical garden area for tomatoes and pole beans, raised beds for perennial herbs (this year he will have fertile garlic varieties!), and rain barrels with holes for sweet potatoes and cucumbers. Sam has several peach trees pruned and weighted to promote fruit production, and is hoping that his blackberry shoots foraged from a U-Pick farm will grow this summer! In front of his home, Sam showed us two containers that are filled with sweet potatoes, onions, celery, chard, and kale, interspersed with flowers in the summer, to showcase his harvest to visitors as they enter his home.

While building a garden infrastructure (soil, compost, beds, etc) takes time and work, Sam offered the encouragement that after seven years, his garden is hardly time-consuming. Most of the time spent in the garden is now for eating and saving the food grown! 

A few seeds planted can lend to a future where everyone around us is growing a little bit of food, creating a food security blanket. This is surely as good a time as any to hop on board that vision!


Maggie demonstrated how easy it is to plant green onions in the kitchen! While Maggie likes to pick up 50cent clay pots from Goodwill, any container with drainage will do. Just pop the green onion in the soil, and prune the top slightly – that’s it! Maggie also likes to plant other herbs into these pots and practice recognizing seedlings with her granddaughter. Not only are green onions good for you, but they add beautiful color to any dish!


For Laura, this year’s Plant A Seed Day theme is “Food is medicine.” During times like this, Laura is cooking every day- no, twice a day! She shared her immunity boosting Thai coconut curry soup recipe with us. Slice and sauté half an onion until translucent. Add sweet potato, ginger, thai curry paste, and sliced carrots. Add a few cups of vegetable broth, boil, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add coconut milk, stir to combine, then turn off the heat. Once cooled, purée and add salt or pepper. The ingredients in this curry provide plenty of nutrients to keep everyone healthy and sane!

Whether for a vision of food security or for a stress-relieving scent, we all have a reason to plant a seed. We welcome all of you to think about the Plant A Seed Day activities in the kitchen, the garden, or wherever you may find your self and invite your friends to a virtual party in the coming days and weeks. You can also read other garden stories and add your own Plant a Seed Day story here: https://biggreen.org/stories/ and by using #plantaseedday.