Chicago Grows Food Grow Kit


  1. Conduct a sunlight analysis for your space to help you decide where to place your plant.
  2. Plant seeds.
  3. Water your plant.

If you are growing inside: Place a plate or plastic container under your grow bag so that it does not leak water.


Just like humans, plants need water to survive. Plants get water from rain or from us watering them. It’s important to think about where you will get water from to water your plants.

Water sources:

  • Your house using a watering can
  • An outdoor hose with a spray nozzle
  • A rain barrel - please note that it is not recommended to use collected rain water for produce plants.

How much water do my plants need?

Check your seed packets or research online to learn how much water your plants need.

Fabric grow bags and containers dry out more quickly than raised beds.

Always consider where you will get water from before establishing your garden. 

Watering best practices

  • Water is a finite resource which means that we could run out of it some day. Because of this, it’s important that we conserve or use as little water as we can when watering our plants.
  • Ideally water your plants each morning before it gets too hot (establish a daily routine)
  • Before watering, feel the soil below the surface to see if it feels damp (stick your finger in up to the first joint). If it is still damp you don’t need to water your plants. You also don’t need to water your plants if it has just rained or is going to rain.
  • For more guidance on specific water requirements for your plant check the seed packet or email CGF.
  • Water your plants slowly, making sure the water doesn’t flow over the sides of the container. Stop watering once you see water flow out of the bottom of the container.
  • Always water at the base of the plant and try to not get the leaves wet. Wet leaves attract pests and can cause diseases.

Please Note: Containers will dry out more quickly than raised beds and in-ground gardens. 

Planting the seeds


Direct Sowing

Direct sowing means planting seeds directly in your grow bag, a container outside, or a raised bed garden. This way of planting seeds is necessary for root vegetables that grow underground like carrots, beets, onions, and potatoes. It’s also necessary for plants that don’t like to be transplanted, or moved from a smaller container where they first start growing to a larger container where they will continue to grow.

To direct sow, follow the directions on the back of your seed packet. Watch a video about how and why to direct sow seeds -



Broadcast sowing is an easy way to plant a large number of very small or small seeds. You can broadcast sow beets, carrots, herbs, lettuce, and some other greens. After your seeds sprout, you will need to thin them.

Watch a video about how to broadcast seeds -


Direct Sow Plants

  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Bok choy
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Cilantro
  • Collards
  • Dill
  • Kale
  • Mizuna
  • Onion
  • Parsley
  • Peas
  • Purslane
  • Radish
  • Spinach
  • Swiss Chard



Starting seeds indoors

It can be helpful to start some seeds indoors so the plants have a chance to grow before you plant them outside. This increases the chance that they will survive and helps them produce more food for you. If you don’t want to start your own seeds indoors you can purchase seedlings from local nurseries.

Starting seeds indoors can take some special equipment and practice, but trying is a great way to learn. Watch the videos below to learn more about starting seeds

Starting Seeds -

Recommended Materials -

Common Mistakes -


Plants that need to be started indoors:

  • Basil
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Eggplants
  • Oregano
  • Peppers (hot)
  • Peppers (sweet)
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Thyme
  • Tomatoes

Plants that can be directly sowed OR started indoors depending on the time of year

  • Cucumbers: Start indoors in the spring. Plant outside in late July.
  • Kohlrabi: Start indoors in the spring. Plant outside in early September.
  • Lettuce: You can start indoors in the spring so your plants produce  leaves that you can eat more quickly. Plant outside in mid-September.
  • Melons (cantaloupe, watermelon): Start indoors in the spring
  • Pumpkins: Start indoors in the spring. Plan outside in mid-June.

Seedlings are small plants. They can be purchased from a nursery or you can start your own. Make sure to harden them off, which means gradually get them used to the sunlight outside. If you buy seedlings, ask if they have been hardened off.


Once your seedlings have been hardened off, they are ready to be planted in your container or raised bed. See page 13 to make sure that you have the right size container for your plant.


Helpful Videos

Printable Instructions