I’m the kind of person who looks at a backyard and sees garden beds instead of turf. That makes winter a bit hard for me, which is why I turn to indoor gardening.
Don’t let cold weather or limited space squash your green thumb. Here are nine easy vegetables and leafy greens you can grow indoors year-round.
- 1. Lettuce greens
- 2. Carrots
- 3. Arugula
- 4. Kale
- 5. Scallions
- 6. Microgreens
- 7. Tomatoes
- 8. Ginger
- 9. Lemons
- A few tips on indoor gardening
- The Easiest Vegetables to Grow Indoors
- Growing Vegetables Indoors
- Want to learn more about growing herbs and vegetables indoors?
- 8 Vegetables You Can Grow at Home (Yes, Even in an Apartment)
- The Best Vegetables to Grow Indoors
- Happy with herbs
- Raise the roots
- Microgreens and mushrooms
- Grow a Bountiful Vegetable Garden Year Round
1. Lettuce greens
Lettuce is surprisingly easy to grow and does not take up much space, making it an excellent choice for a sunny window. Look for lettuce mixes marketed as cutting lettuces or leaf lettuce varieties. With these, you can harvest the leaves and the plant will grow back, giving you more lettuce for half the work.
Start your seeds in a pot or a plastic bag with drainage holes. Fill with moist potting soil and sprinkle five to 15 seeds on the surface. Cover them with 1/8 inch of soil and mist them with a spray bottle until the surface is damp but not soaked. Place them in a sunny window or under a grow light and keep nice and moist. Thin the seedlings once they germinate, leaving the strongest to grow into delicious, fresh lettuce.
More: Container gardening tips
You won’t get monstrous carrots from an indoor garden, but with a deep enough pot you can enjoy fresh carrots year-round. Shorter carrot varieties need a pot at least eight inches deep and longer varieties require 12 inches to reach their full size. Choose a moistened organic potting soil mix and fill your container up to an inch from the top. Plant your seeds 1/4 inch deep.
Keep your carrots in a sunny windowsill and keep them moist but not wet. Once they germinate, thin them so that each carrot is at least an inch apart from its neighbor. Plant a new batch of carrots every two weeks to keep them coming all year long.
More: 7 Trendy garden ideas for the hipster gardener
Spicy and delicious, arugula germinates quickly and grows even faster. Each plant gives you multiple harvests if you cut the larger leaves and leave the small ones at the center. Arugula prefers cooler temperatures, which makes it a perfect vegetable to grow indoors.
More: 6 Things to know for winter gardening
Sprinkle arugula seeds in your container the same way you would lettuce. Water and place them in a sunny windowsill, thinning out weaker seedlings as needed.
Once a garnish and now a superfood, kale is a great vegetable to grow indoors. Like arugula, you can harvest the bigger leaves and leave the small ones for a later harvest. Plant a few seeds in a medium-size pot and cover with 1/2 inch of soil. Keep the soil moist and thin to one plant per pot, as kale can get pretty large.
More: Tips for the stylish indoor gardener
Scallions, also called green onions, give you that onion taste without the space requirements. You can start them from seed or you can pick up some scallions at the grocery store or farmers market. If they still have roots attached, stick them in the soil, burying them up to the top of the white bulb, and watch them grow. Harvest the tops periodically.
More: 10 Extreme gardens that took way too much time
Sometimes waiting for salad greens to grow is tedious. Microgreens are one of the best vegetables to grow indoors. They grow quickly, they require very little space, and they are absolutely delicious. To grow microgreens, simply sprinkle a single crop of mesclun or microgreen seed mixes in a shallow, well-drained container. Cover the seeds with a fine covering of soil, keep moist, and harvest once the first “true leaves” of the plant pop up.
I was surprised at how long my tomatoes lasted indoors the first time I moved a potted plant inside. Had I added fertilizer, I suspect it would have lasted even longer. Tomatoes do well in containers, but they do like sunlight so make sure your tomato gets the best seat at the window.
More: Decorating Diva: Digging up the hottest garden trends
I highly recommend starting your seeds in a seed flat (egg cartons work well too) and transplanting them into a large pot when they are a few inches tall. This gives them sturdy roots. Trellis your tomato with a stake to offer further support and fertilize every two weeks.
Ginger is an attractive plant that looks a little like bamboo. The best way to start ginger is to pick some up at a natural food store, as these tend to use fewer chemicals. Even then, you’ll have to soak it in water for a few hours to remove any growth inhibitor chemicals on the plant.
Place your root in a wide, shallow container and barely cover it with soil. Keep it moist, sit back, and watch it grow.
More: 13 Awesome garden herbs that double as health supplements
Lemons are technically not a vegetable, but they go well with so many dishes that it seemed criminal to omit them from this list. Dwarf lemon trees make beautiful houseplants. They also provide full size, juicy lemons that pair nicely with meat and vegetable dishes, not to mention a hot cup of tea in the winter.
While you can start lemons from seed, most potted citrus enthusiasts buy a dwarf citrus tree from a nursery. It takes a long time to grow a productive tree from seed, and professional nurseries use a grafting process that keeps potted lemons small enough to grow inside.
A few tips on indoor gardening
These vegetables all require well-drained soil and partial sunlight. For best results, place a grow light near your vegetables during the winter months to boost your garden’s yields and avoid overwatering.
The Easiest Vegetables to Grow Indoors
Want fresh produce all year long? Grow them at home! Check out this list of eight easy-to-grow vegetables.
There’s nothing quite like freshly picked produce and between the growing popularity of community gardens, farmers’ markets and CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), it would seem that many people across the country agree. The benefits of local, seasonal, farm-fresh foods are easy to see — they not only taste better, but their purchase helps to strengthen and support local communities and they’re a little bit easier on the environment (especially if grown organically) than those you’ll find in the supermarket, since they’re typically grown on a smaller scale and require less travel. Growing your own food is another option and offers a few additional bonuses — like knowing how and where your fruits and veg were grown, not to mention the satisfaction of having grown them yourself.
Even if you don’t have a yard of your own or call a pint-sized apartment home, you can still reap the benefits of homegrown produce — a simple windowsill, a little counter space or a small corner will do.
If you’re not ready to go all out just yet, herbs are a great way to get your feet wet. Start with seeds or a starter plant (a much easier, hassle-free option), potting each in a container with plenty of drainage holes and placing them in a well-lit spot in your home. Water often — about once a day — trim regularly and be sure to keep flower buds in check whenever they pop up, which will encourage plants to grow and produce more leaves.
Glazed, roasted or pureed into soup, carrots are easy to grow at home and offer plentiful culinary possibilities. If you’re short on space, look to short varieties, which can be grown in small boxes, troughs or 8″ pots. Look to 12″ pots for long varieties. Seeds can be sown almost any time of year and will start two produce carrots only a few short weeks after planting. Keep soil moist and when harvest, pull straight out to avoid damaging other carrots’ roots.
It’s a well-known fact that store-bought tomatoes are sub par (globular red cardboard, anyone?), so growing them at home when you can’t get them fresh from the farm is the way to go. And with so many varieties available, you’re bound to find at least one that will work within the confines of your space. Put them in Just remember, lots of light is key!
Radishes are one of those majorly underrated legumes. They boast some pretty fantastic health benefits (what vegetable doesn’t though, right?) and they’re delicious. Two words: glazed radishes. You’ve seriously got to try them. Like carrots, these pint-sized root vegetables don’t need a much space to grow and things like pots, pans, boxes or any other spacious container can be repurposed into planters. Globe and round varieties are great for small spaces.
Potatoes can easily be grown in a confined space with just a few buckets, large pots or bags. Fill the containers with good quality compost, leaving enough space to add more compost as the spuds develop. Place tubers near the top of the bag, giving them plenty of space to put down roots. Cover with a few more inches of compost and water sparingly. The soil should be moist, never wet. As the potatoes grow, soil should be added so that only the top inch or so of the plant is poking through. You’ll know they’re ready to harvest one they start to turn yellow. Green potatoes are poisonous and are best avoided.
Mushrooms are a low-key crop that require minimal effort — perfect if you’re not the most attentive gardener. You can buy kits with compost and mushroom spawn ready and raring to go, which require nothing more than a little watering before being placed in a cool dark place like a cupboard.
Fresh, homegrown beans are well within reach as long as you have a nice sunny spot on hand. Dwarf varieties are best for indoors and seeds can be sown in late winter onwards. As the beans grow, adding a stick to the pot will give the plant a little stability and support.
While everything from bok choi to kale and cabbage can be grown indoors, microgreens are delicious, nutrient-packed and stress-free. What are they? Essentially, sprouted seeds, so as long as you can get your greens to sprout, you’re golden. To grow microgreens all you need is a flat dish, a little bit of soil and time.
This is only a small sampling of the many types of produce you can grow at home. Once you get comfortable with these, go ahead and give everything from eggplants to endive and leeks a try!
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Growing Vegetables Indoors
As the winter months descend upon us all, it can be a bit depressing thinking about the layers of snow blanketing our growing spaces. While some vegetables will certainly do just fine in the colder months, there are certain plants that simply won’t survive between the first and last frosts. A great alternative, if you have the space to devote to it, is growing some of your favorite vegetables indoors during the winter months. Even if you don’t have a greenhouse, you can still grow your vegetables on a shelf in your kitchen, in a garden shed, or even in your basement if you have the right tools and equipment.
There are several gadgets that, through the hydroponics process, will allow you to grow cherry tomatoes on your kitchen, in your living room, or even in your office at work. However, while these gadgets certainly do have their novelty appeal, they can be very costly and also limit you in what you can actually grow. There are other options, however, so read on!
Indoor Growing Requirements
Naturally there will be different requirements for the various plants that you are growing, but the majority of them will require at least six hours of sunlight a day. There are five essential factors to growing your vegetables indoors, and they are as follows:
- Levels of light
- Growing medium
- Levels of humidity
- Air circulation
If you have a room in your home that receives a constant amount of light during the day, then this could be your best choice. Another alternative is to do some good research into growing lamps. Grow bulbs are available at most home improvement stores and can fit into any lighting fixture; however, they may not provide your plants with all of the light that they need. These grow bulbs are typically best suited for keeping your orchards and African violets thriving indoors. The amount of light and the intensity of the light will determine how long your plants remain active and will ensure that photosynthesis is taking place at an acceptable rate. Light intensity has a marked effect on how the plant grows, flowers, and fruits; the intensity of the light is dependent on how close the plant is to the source of light.
Vegetables that produce fruit, like cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes, will have much higher light requirements than salad greens, herbs, and root vegetables like carrots and beets. Compact fluorescent lights can serve you very well if you are growing greens, sprouts, and herbs, so long as the source of light is no higher than four inches above the plants.
Your growing medium is just as important for your indoor plants as it is for your vegetables grown outdoors. If the soil is not providing the plants with adequate nutrition then you will have just as many problems indoors as those you face outdoors when your soil pH levels and nutritional values are off. Before you plant your seeds, do a thorough test of the soil that you plan to use, and you can effectively avoid problems that would hamper your growing progress.
Levels of humidity are important to keep an eye on, otherwise you face concerns with overly dried out plants or plants that are developing fungal infections and rot. During the winter months, we tend to heat our homes using forced-air heating systems that are incredibly effective at drying out everything in our homes. To maintain a good humidity level, you may need to consider investing in a simple cool mist humidifier that can counteract the forced air dryness.
Air circulation is also an important consideration because a nice breezy atmosphere can help to prevent the growth of molds and fungus and also help to ensure that the moisture in the air is getting evenly distributed throughout your indoor garden space. Numerous options are available for providing adequate air circulation, but a nice quality fan that rotates slowly will do the job really well.
New Survival Seed Bank™ Lets You Plant A Full Acre Crisis Garden!
Temperature is something that you also need to closely monitor, especially if your indoor garden space is in a shed, garage, or other space that is not insulated. If temperatures dip too low during the overnight hours, then you run the risk of your plants succumbing to the freezing temperatures. On the other hand, you also run the risk of your tomatoes not setting blossoms if their overnight temperatures do not go below 85 degrees F.
Once you have addressed the five major requirements of growing vegetables indoors, you can move onto the actual seeding and growing process.
Best Vegetables To Grow Indoors
There are some vegetables that are simply not going to be a good choice to grow indoors, mostly due to the space and light requirements that they have. Corn, squash, peas, beans, and melons like cucumbers or watermelon may not thrive indoors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t necessarily attempt to grow them. If conditions are right and you can afford the space, then you may be able to have good luck with them.
Here are some of the best choices for growing vegetables indoors during the winter months:
- Tomatoes (cherry and mini varieties)
Several intrepid gardeners have taken the steps to create a trellis in their indoor growing space so that they can grow peas year-round. Peas prefer cooler temperatures, so they might be a better choice to attempt versus heat-loving beans that tend to thrive during the summer months.
Limited space need not keep you from growing things like potatoes, especially since you can grow them vertically. Potato towers and bags are exceptionally popular with gardeners who have space limits. Not only can you grow several pounds of potatoes in less than a few square feet of space, but you can also make harvesting them a lot easier than needing to go dig through several hundred feet of growing space outdoors.
Your potato tower or bags can be reused outdoors during the summer months to ensure a year-round harvest of this very versatile and nutritious vegetable that also stores beautifully.
Growing carrots indoors is something that often comes as a surprise to even the most seasoned gardener. While carrots do well growing outdoors, many gardeners have discovered that they tend to thrive in large containers or buckets as well. Whether planting the mini varieties or the full-sized carrots, you’ll find that with nice loose soil that is rich in organic material, along with the right light requirements, you can grow amazing carrots even in the dead of winter.
Some types of fruits also grow really well indoors, assuming you can meet their growing requirements. Lemons and strawberries, for example, can thrive in your greenhouse, shed, or basement garden if you just give them the light and warmth that they need.
Knowing where to start can sometimes be the most baffling aspect of growing vegetables indoors, so consider starting small. Get a few compact florescent bulbs and grow a few varieties of lettuce. Once your lettuce is thriving, you can branch out towards spinach and even those juicy red cherry tomatoes you’ve been dreaming of.
It might take a bit of time and a bit of a financial investment, but with the right gear and the right setup, you won’t hesitate getting your vegetables growing indoors when everyone else is staring at barren winter fields.
©2012 Off the Grid News
The snow is falling and you crave some fresh veggies, so off to the supermarket you go. Did you ever think about growing your own? There are varieties of vegetables that can successfully be grown indoors.
When embarking on an indoor garden project, it is best to begin with vegetable varieties that produce in small spaces. Lettuce, spinach, many herbs and endive do very well indoors. It is possible to grow green peppers, beans, cherry tomatoes and miniature eggplants.
Don’t waste time trying to grow corn, melons, broccoli or cabbage. Chances are they will not do well.
When selecting vegetables to grow, check with the larger seed companies. More and more dwarf varieties of fruits and vegetables are being developed. Dwarf varieties don’t take as much time or space to grow.
It is important to choose the proper pot for indoor gardening. Pots should have adequate drainage and be large enough to host adult plants as well as seedlings. Pot size varies depending on the type of vegetable you are planting. Crops such as herbs and salad greens don’t need as much root space as do other plants such as cherry tomatoes.
It is best to avoid clay pots because they tend to dry out faster than ceramic, wooden, metal or plastic containers.
The location of the indoor garden is important. Choose a spot that gets as much direct sunlight as possible. While some plants tolerate partial shade, most need as much sunlight as possible so make sure the garden gets at least six hours of sunlight a day.
If you don’t have sunny windowsills, you may have to buy grow lights to have a successful garden. There are many different types of lights available in department and hardware stores, as well as online.
Gardeners have their favorite soil recipes for indoor planting. It is important to use a soil mixture that will drain well. You can make a good plant-growing medium by mixing equal amounts of silica, sand, perlite and mulch. Another recipe is to use equal parts of garden soil, coarse sand and compost OR peat moss. The Square Foot Gardening recipe for soil is also a very good option.
When planting, follow directions on the seed packets.
Keep in mind that indoor gardens take regular watering. Do not allow the soil to become too dry. Irregular watering can cause vegetables to have a bitter taste. Watering globes, which are available in most garden and hardware stores, help keep the soil moist.
A good fertilizer is a vital part of the recipe to successful indoor gardening. Choose a good organic fertilizer and follow product directions. Add a little compost can boost growth. Seaweed meal is good to use because it releases nutrients slowly, minimizing the need for frequent applications.
The good news about indoor gardening is that there should be fewer pests to feed on your plants. Whiteflies can tend to be a problem, but they are easily caught with the aid of sticky traps that are available in garden stores. Mealy bugs can be eliminated by rubbing them with a cotton ball saturated with rubbing alcohol. Spider mites are one of the most common pests. You can rid your plants of spider mites by spraying the plant growth with water. If that doesn’t work, try mixing a capful of dish detergent with the water.
Want to learn more about growing herbs and vegetables indoors?
Organic Gardening magazine features this page with the top 10 herbs to grow indoors.
It also offers this article about growing plants from vegetable scraps indoors.
The University of Missouri Extension has this PDF guide to learn more about whitefly infestations and how to deal with them.
8 Vegetables You Can Grow at Home (Yes, Even in an Apartment)
Pretty much everybody knows that you can grow herbs in your kitchen, but I was in my 30s before I learned that lots of vegetables—and I mean lots!—are just as simple and low-maintenance to grow. Plus, you can grow them both in containers and indoors. I had no idea.
Now I’m growing produce I was buying every single week. Not only does DIYing them save money, it also cuts way down on waste because I only harvest what I plan to use, right before I start cooking. It’s really fun and rewarding too: The longer I do it, the more veggies I want to add to my little urban garden. You don’t have to wait for the right season to begin if you’re growing indoors, and everything you grow can be organic to boot. In some cases, you can even regrow your veggies from scraps.
Here’s how to get started:
Literally any dirt-filled container with a hole in the bottom will work, but some are more user-friendly—and attractive—than others. I’ve used cheap tin toiletry storage bins from Target, plastic yogurt tubs, ornate olive oil tins, old kitty litter buckets, drawers salvaged from an IKEA dresser that fell apart, and even burlap coffee sacks. (Sack farming is ideal for people who have very little space, as they’re high in volume but take up little surface space—plus you can slit the sides and grow different plants!) Go through your recycling and get creative with it. You can use regular flower pots too, of course.
Add a bit of gravel to the bottom of the container to encourage drainage. If you don’t have gravel, you can use smashed-up old ceramic plates or cups, bits of concrete, marbles, or a handful of actual rocks. Put some kind of saucer or dish underneath the container so It doesn’t leak all over your floor or counter when you water it, then fill the rest with soil. I like Sungro Black Gold, which is organic and affordable.
If you’re starting your garden from seeds and want to keep it low-key in the beginning, I recommend Jiffy Peat Pellet Seed Starters, which are cheap and unmessy: You just add water, and they pop up, so you don’t have to fill up a Dixie cup with dirt or anything. Plus transplanting to larger containers is a snap. There are upsides to going to a garden store and buying your own greenhouse seedlings, however: They’ll be hardier, healthier, and more likely to thrive than the ones you start yourself.
Here are some of the easiest, most prolific, and most useful vegetables that I’ve grown so far.
Salad Greens, Like Spinach, Arugula, Mesclun, and Loose-Leaf Lettuces
These guys couldn’t be easier: Just water every day, get your scissors, and custom-snip yourself a salad. I like to have a few pots going at once and plant new seeds every 10 to 14 days to ensure a steady salad supply. Greens are perfectly happy in smaller containers too. You can segregate your salad species pot by pot or plant from a seed packet of mixed greens. Chard, in particular, especially the rainbow-hued bright lights variety, doesn’t need a lot of attention and brings delicious, brilliant results.
Try them in 7 Simple Side Salads That Go With Everything.
If you plant it from seed, celery takes about 120 long days from germination to harvest, but you can speed up the process significantly: Just take the base of an old bunch of celery and let it sit in water for five to seven days, until leaves start to grow out of the top and roots sprout from the base. Then replant it in a pot with soil loosely covering the roots and watch it go to town. Break off a few stalks as you need them, leaving the rest of the bunch intact and alive. Celery’s easy as long as you water it daily; but don’t drown it, as the outer stalks can develop rot.
Serving suggestion: Baked Stuffed Celery With Goat Cheese, Garlic, And Basil.
Potatoes (Both Sweet and Regular)
This one is the best: If you take a sprouty old potato from the supermarket, cut it up into chunks (two or three sprouts per chunk), lay them sprout-side-up on at least four inches of soil (no gravel required), and bury them in another four inches of dirt… they make more potatoes!
It takes between one to two months before they’re ready, depending on the variety, and you need to keep adding soil for them to grow in as the plants get taller and taller. But it’s so, so satisfying to rummage around in the dirt and pull up your own spuds. There are actually potato-growing sacks out there, with flaps at the bottom for easier harvesting, but a large pot works just as well.
The potatoes will tell you when they’re ready because the foliage will turn yellow—when this happens, cut the plants and leave them alone for 10 days before harvesting the potatoes underneath. A note: Make sure you cure your tates (don’t worry, it’s super easy) before you eat them.
Give one of the 45 Creative Ways to Cook Sweet Potato or 7 Baked Potato Recipes a shot.
Growing radishes is as easy as can be, and they grow fast, with only 30 to 40 days from germination to harvest. There are all kinds of fun, colorful varieties too—easter egg radishes are a favorite. They don’t like to be crowded, so you’ll have to thin out the herd if they sprout too close together.
Other than that, just plant the seeds under half an inch of soil in a container that has at least eight inches of soil in it, water them every day, and pull them up as soon as they’re ready so they don’t get bitter. You can keep a few pots of these going at once, with staggered sowing times, just in case inspiration for taco night randomly strikes!
Try perfectly simple Radish Sandwiches With Butter, Salt, and Herbs (or, y’know… tacos).
Similar to radishes, carrots don’t need much space, and the sprouts also need to be thinned out—they like to have one to two inches of wingspan, so to speak. They tend to need deeper soil than radishes, and they typically take about twice as long to harvest (around 70 days), but they’re essentially as simple to grow. If you want to save time—and heartbreak, if you love all of your plants like pets, even the babies—you can buy carrot seed tape or pelleted seed that eliminates the need to thin your crop by hand.
Then make a tray of Roasted Carrots With Cardamom Butter.
If you live in northerly climes like I do, I have good news: You can still grow chiles indoors, as long as you can give them at least six hours of bright sunlight a day and don’t keep your thermostat below 70 degrees. They can be even grown from the seeds you scrape out of your store-bought chiles, as long as they’re organic.
I’ve had the most success with jalapeños, habaneros, and Thai bird’s-eye chilis in a 16-inch pot. And even better news: They’re pretty hardy and won’t die if you forget to water them for a couple of days. (Looking at you, celery.) This is one plant that will benefit from a grow light or from being placed outdoors during warm weather, if possible.
Chiles are self-pollinating, but outdoor insects help them out with this process, so if your chiles are flowering but not fruiting, it’s easy to hand-pollinate them—just tap the stems gently once the flowers have bloomed in order to spread the pollen.
Then use the fruits of your labor in Spicy Baked Chicken Meatballs.
Tomatoes, like their nightshade cousins chile peppers, are self-pollinating, and many varieties can thrive in containers. Smaller tomatoes like Red Robins, Yellow Pears, Tiny Tims, and Florida Petites are all good choices.
Tomatoes can tolerate a bit more cold than chiles as well—a minimum of 65 degrees or so. Nothing’s worse than a mealy, pale, flavorless wintertime tomato, and so having access to your own sunny, organic toms will brighten your whole season. If you love tomatoes as much as I do, you can start a new pot every two weeks to keep the cycle coming.
Since tomatoes are self-pollinating, the chile pepper rules apply: If they’re not doing the thing on their own, just tap the stems of the open flowers to get the pollen moving around.
Of course, you need to try 7 Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipes That Would Make Your Grandma Proud.
Kale can grow to magnificent heights in an outdoor garden, but it’s perfectly content indoors too—possibly even more so, as it doesn’t love either frost or heat. You can keep it going all year round, so long as you stay on top of the watering and direct sunlight.
Depending on your available gardening space, dwarf varieties might be preferable, such as Dwarf Blue Curled Kale, which ends up being about one foot by one foot. (It makes a pretty houseplant too!) If you’re aiming for microgreens, kale sprouts are ready in a couple weeks; the plants take about two months to reach maturity.
Once they’re ready, it’s time for 7 Crazy-Good Kale Recipes That Aren’t Salads.
Scallions are by far the easiest vegetable to grow from scraps. All you do is take the white ends of the scallions, stick ’em in enough water to submerge the roots, and change the water every few days. After a week, you can plant them in a pot. Then just snip off the fresh ends with a pair of scissors to season your meals. Voila! Never buy scallions again! If they start to flower, it’s no problem—the zingy blossoms are great in salads.
And then you have to give this Momofuku Ginger Scallion Sauce a shot.
Meg van Huygen got her start in film/theater criticism and now writes about food, travel, and history most of the time. Her love for Steve Perry from Journey is pure and unironic. When she’s not on the road, she lives in Seattle.
Put your green thumb to work—and save yourself a trip to the farmer’s market—by growing your own veggies, fruits, herbs, and other foods indoors year-round.
To get started, you’ll need a pot with drainage holes and specially designed indoor potting soil. While some options can grow in small planters, larger veggies will require big and deep containers so their roots have space to flourish. And to ensure your soil drains properly (no soggy pots allowed!), it may be helpful to DIY your very own mixture by adding some organic perlite into high-quality potting soil.
Once you’ve got your supplies, find yourself a sunny window (veggies will need at least 4-6 hours of sunshine while fruits will need at least 8-10 hours daily), and get to potting.
When it comes to watering, each plant will be a bit different, but it’s always best to remember the old adage: less is more. And here’s a sage idea: Set up a cool mist humidifier near your indoor garden to help simulate their typical outdoor conditions and to prevent them from drying out.
To give your plants an extra boost—especially when those dreary winter days roll around—invest in powerful grow lights, which start at just $33. You can also achieve faster growth (and do less work!) when it comes to herbs with an AeroGarden kit, which you can pick up for just $60.
Without grow lights, you can still expect to see sprouting rather quickly, but it will likely be several weeks to months before you can cut and enjoy your goodies. Follow these tips, choose from one of our favorite options below, and you’ll be harvesting your own indoor crops in no time.
How do I start growing vegetables indoors?
Plants with edible stems and leaves are quick and easy to grow indoors.
Fruiting plants are slower and require more attention.
Decide what you want to grow based on the growing conditions you can provide.
Light (natural and grow lights) and room temperatures can determine what you’ll grow where.
If you have pets that may try to eat the plants or dig in the pots, that’s another thing to consider.
I recommend beginning with Group 1: cool-loving plants that require moderate light.
Any leafy salad greens including spinach, kale, and arugula are easy to grow and ready in weeks.
Start plants from seed using these instructions or get transplants from a garden nursery.
Organize crops by light needs and mature height. Leafy greens do well together; peas climb and should be potted separately with room for trellis.
Set up growing space including grow lights, containers, fan and digital timers.
How long you’ll need your lights on will depend on the natural light available and your plants.
Start with the recommended amounts and adapt as needed.
Check your plants daily to be the sure the lights and fan are working, soil is moist (not damp or dry), and there are no signs of stress or pests.
It’s common to need to move plants closer to or farther away from the lights depending on how they are doing.
Some food plants like tomatoes may need help with pollination. When pollen is visible in the flowers, I use my finger tip and dab each flower to distribute it from flower to flower. Sounds simple but it seems to work. Or, they pollinate anyways and it does no harm.
Liquid Fish Emulsion Fertilizer
Fertilize with a natural liquid fertilizer (fish or seaweed) and follow instructions on product.
- Group 1 | Leafy Greens : Monthly
- Group 2 | Herbs : Monthly
- Group 3 | Fruiting Plants : Every two weeks
If the edible part of a plant is the stem or leaves, you can harvest them any time. Some leafy greens are cut-and-come again so you can use the outer leaves and the inner ones will continue to grow.
Herbs are harvested as needed, removing small amounts for cooking, leaving the rest of the plant to continue growing.
For fruits, look up the days to maturity to know when to anticipate harvest time. Depending on the lighting, this may take longer than the seed packets say.
When should I start growing vegetables indoors?
Summer means you will have more natural light available which may reduce how long you run your grow lights each day.
Winter is my favorite time because it’s incredibly cheerful to have a tray of fresh, delicious salad greens growing when it’s snowing outside.
- Growing Salads Indoors | Melissa J. Will | ebook available for instant download
- Gardening Under Lights | Leslie Halleck
- Indoor Kitchen Gardening | Elizabeth Millard
And there you go! I hope you will try growing food indoors. It’s the fun of houseplants with the bonus of food!
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛
- How Often Should I Water My Houseplants?
- How to Repot African Violets
- Orchids for Beginners
The Best Vegetables to Grow Indoors
Want to grow fresh crops inside? If you can grow your own food outdoors, growing vegetables and fruits indoors will not be a big problem for you.
Year-round vegetable gardening is easier than you think — you just have to be aware of the best vegetables to grow indoors. First figure out if you have the space and light requirements necessary, and then get that indoor garden growing!
Note: There are some limitations when it comes to growing vegetables indoors. Primarily due to the lack of growing space you can devote to plants that like to sprawl outdoors. Be prepared to make due with smaller yields than you would get outdoors and a smaller list of plants to grow.
Happy with herbs
If you are not a big fan of growing herbs outdoors, learn to love herbs because they are the easiest vegetables to grow indoors. Unlike many fruits and vegetables that require copious amounts of sunlight and water to produce a crop, many popular herbs are content to produce with just regular watering and a sunny windowsill. Potting up your favorites from the garden to bring indoors for the winter is a practice we should all get in the habit of doing.
11 herbs that are perfect for your indoor garden:
- Swiss chard
Raise the roots
You don’t need a raised bed or even planters that are very deep to grow your favorite root vegetables. Pots, boxes and kitchen items you can repurpose into planters are great for carrots and radishes. Choose round or globe varieties of radishes like Easter Egg and Pink Beauty.
Similarly, round varieties of carrots can be grown in smaller spaces. Look for seeds for varieties like Round Romeo, and short types like Little Finger and Parisienne.
Microgreens and mushrooms
Microgreens are a great way to get nutrient-dense vegetables into your winter diet without investing a lot of time and space to your kitchen countertop farm.
What are microgreens ? Simply put, microgreens are just sprouted seeds. Most of us can grow seedlings without much of a problem. It is when they start to grow beyond the weeks that we start to have problems. Fortunately, all you need to to your own microgreens is a clean Mason jar or flat dish, seeds and time.
Most gardeners probably never think about growing their own mushrooms. In recent years there have been a few mushroom kits sold commercially that really take a lot of the guesswork and mystery out of growing mushrooms. The best part of growing mushrooms indoors is that you are not limited by the time of year, and low light levels are not a problem. The kits come with prepared growing medium and mushroom spawn. You water once when preparing the kit and place them in a cool (50 to 60 F), dark location and within a couple of weeks mushrooms start to crop up.
If you want to grow food indoors, I suggest staying away from attempting to grow big crops like tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers and melons. Yes, with the grow lights and high electricity bills you can successfully harvest a crop, but it will not taste as good as the same plants grown in your garden during summer.
Beans are easy to germinate and a fun seed for kids to grow. Look for dwarf broad beans and dwarf runner bean varieties that you can grow in tall, sunny windowsills. Similarly, look for dwarf tropical fruit trees, or trees grown on dwarf rootstock, to add some variety to your indoor vegetable garden. The best vegetables to grow indoors are those that you can provide enough light and growing space. But do not be afraid to experiment and try new plants.
You might also enjoy our indoor vegetable gardening tips and our post on how to grow ginger indoors .
Grow a Bountiful Vegetable Garden Year Round
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