How to Make an Indoor Salad Garden with Recycled Materials

How to Make an Indoor Salad Garden
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Turn Your Trash into an Indoor Salad Garden!

Create your own mini indoor salad garden with stuff you otherwise would throw away. Use these instructions to build your own environmentally-friendly indoor salad garden using plastic food packaging and toilet paper tubes. Keep waste out of the landfill and harvest fresh salad greens from your kitchen windowsill!

These indoor salad gardens are great for growing fresh homegrown salad greens even if you don’t have the time or space for a garden. They’re also great for extending your growing season when the weather outside is too cold – or hot – for tender greens to survive.

If you’re an RVer, you can even take your mini salad garden on the road – mine fits perfectly into the sink of my camper for transport. No more taking up valuable camper refrigerator space with salad greens – I simply harvest them fresh when I need them! (And, in the mean time, the mini garden makes a pretty centerpiece for the picnic table.)

Best of all, these mini indoor salad gardens are a great way to reuse common household items that otherwise get thrown away!

Recycle Common Household Items

I got the idea for the indoor salad garden over the winter after accumulating a number of those plastic boxes with lids that organic salad greens are packaged in. Instead of recycling them or – even worse, throwing them away – I was determined to find another use for them. And how serendipitous is it to use lettuce packaging to grow more lettuce?

I’m also loath to throwing away toilet paper tubes and am always trying to find creative reuses for them. Since I’ve used toilet paper tubes to make seedling pots before, using them for this project was a no brainer. They’re lightweight, compostable, and readily available. It doesn’t take long to save up enough for a mini indoor salad garden!


  • 1 plastic salad container with lid (from grocery store-purchased salad greens) measuring roughly 8″ x 6-1/2″ x 3-1/4″ deep
  • 12 empty cardboard toilet paper tubes
  • Organic potting soil
  • 1 packet lettuce or mesclun mix seeds
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Scissors
  • Small hand trowel or tablespoon
  • Spray bottle with mister
  • Organic plant food
  • Grow light (optional)

How to Assemble an Indoor Salad Garden

Step 1: Measure the depth of the plastic salad container, remembering that the lid will take up about 1/2-inch. This is the length to which you will need to cut the cardboard tubes so they fit in the container when the lid is closed. You should get a measurement somewhere around 2-3/4 inches (7.5 centimeters). Cut each cardboard tube to that length. Reserve the shorter pieces to use later.

How to Make an Indoor Salad Garden

Step 2:  Stand the cardboard tubes on end in the plastic salad container and use the smaller pieces to fill in any gaps to keep the tubes from tipping over. Prepare the potting soil for planting per the directions on the soil packaging (which may include mixing in water to the soil to moisten it) and, using a small trowel or tablespoon, fill the cardboard tubes with soil, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top. Don’t worry if a little soil spills into the bottom of the plastic tray; it will help to hold the tubes in place.

How to Make an Indoor Salad Garden

Seeds for Your Indoor Salad Garden

I find that looseleaf lettuce varieties work best in an indoor salad garden. I like to use a mix of different greens to get an attractive assortment of colors, shapes, textures. Here is one option (affiliate link):


Step 3: Drop three seeds into the soil of each cardboard tube, leaving as much space between them as possible. Top off each tube with a thin layer of potting soil, and gently tamp down the top layer of soil. Using the spray bottle, thoroughly water each tube until the soil and cardboard is completely moist but not soaking wet.

How to Make an Indoor Salad Garden

Step 4: Place the lid on the plastic salad container to hold the moisture in, and place the container in a warm, dark place. I use the furnace room in my basement.

How to Make an Indoor Salad Garden

Step 5: Check on your indoor salad garden daily. After about five days, you will start to notice seedlings popping up from the soil. At that point, remove the lid and place the container in a sunny location, such as a window with a south exposure or, for best results, under a grow light for 12 hours a day.

How to Make an Indoor Salad Garden

Step 6: Water the indoor salad garden regularly to keep the cardboard tubes moist. Every couple of weeks, feed the garden with a high-quality organic plant food such as Naptune’s Harvest, which is a favorite in my household (affiliate link):

How to Make an Indoor Salad Garden

Step 7: In about 30 to 35 days, your lettuce plants will be big enough to harvest. Harvest the leaves with a small, sharp knife. If you leave a few small center leaves on each plant, enough new growth should emerge for at least one or two more cuttings. To encourage new growth, continue to water and feed the garden regularly.

How to Make an Indoor Salad Garden

Step 8: Dress the tender greens with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt and enjoy!

Fresh salad greens

This post has been shared on the Homestead Blog Hop.