Growing vegetables indoors is a great way to liven up your house, filter your air, and of course create a steady supply of delicious and nutritious veggies that you do not have to pay for. Many people assume that because they do not have an outdoor space or a public garden at their disposal they must rely on the industrial farming machine to get their greens. Not so! Many plants grow quite well indoors, and in fact, some are so easy to maintain you might even forget about them until they are quite overgrown.
If you are interested in turning the extra windowsill in your house or apartment into a beautiful and productive source of nutrition, you have come to the right place. We will caution you at the onset, however: growing vegetables indoors can be addictive. That green thumb of yours can easily become a set of two green hands. You have been warned!
7 Tips for Growing Vegetables Indoors
Most of the tips that will make you a master of growing vegetables indoors are plant-specific. Hot peppers have very different requirements than radishes do. That said, here are some general principles that will get you started.
- 1Don't be intimidated! Growing many types of vegetables indoors is easier than you think. You just need to pick the right plants.
- 2Know your space. Bigger veggies need bigger spaces
- 3Smaller can be better. Microgreens are more nutritious than their big counterparts
- 4Talk to your plants. We don't know why this works, but that it does work is definitive
- 5Buy organic. If you are going to use seeds from store-bought vegetables, keep in mind that many of the GMO veggies are designed to not reproduce from their seeds
- 6Start today! As the Chinese proverb says: the best time to plant a tree is ten years ago; the second-best time is today
- 7Pick the right vegetables.
This last tip is the most important. The following list of veggies are all excellent candidates for growing vegetables indoors. In each entry, we will give you additional plant-specific tips to make you an indoor growing master.
Great Vegetables to Grow Indoors
The easiest way to have success growing vegetables indoors is to pick the right plants. Some veggies really need quite a bit of space to spread out or tend to wilt if they do not receive proper sunlight. Others are a breeze to grow indoors. Join us as we explore some of the best plants for growing vegetables indoors.
There is a reason that scallions top our list of the best plants for growing vegetables indoors. Scallions are ridiculously easy to maintain, and they go with just about any meal you could prepare. If you have ever ordered meals from Blue Apron, you know that just about every single box contains at least one scallion to garnish most every dish with. What you may not have known is just how easy this scrumptious green is to grow.
You do not even need soil to grow scallions. You don't even need a special pot. That's right, you can grow scallions in a regular old glass of water.
All you have to do is plop the root end of a scallion into a glass with about an inch of water in it. (That's right, you don't even need seeds, since onions reproduce from their bulbs.) You can even use the green part of the scallion to garnish and flavor a meal of yours before you begin growing the root bulb.
Some people like to plant the scallion in soil after it has begun to grow roots from its bottom. However, you really do not have to do this. You can simply use toothpicks to prop the scallion up in its glass of water so that the green top can grow up into the air. Place scallions on your windowsill and they should get plenty of sunlight. If this is your first venture growing vegetables indoors, the scallion is an excellent way to start.
If you've got more space and less light, radishes are another great way to start growing vegetables indoors. Radishes are famous for growing inside as long as they can be planted in enough soil to accommodate their large bulbs. They do not need as much light as other vegetables that you can grow indoors.
Radishes take only about a month to reach maturity and they provide an excellent source of natural nutrients and sugars. The only major precaution with radishes is that you do not want to crowd them. If they begin sprouting up too close to each other, you ought to pull a few out so that they do not suffocate each other.
Radishes are by no means a monolithic species. Many varieties of radishes exist, so you can take your pick based on appearance and flavor. Our favorite variety is the easter egg radish, which comes out in many different pleasing colors. It is a killer way to add color to your salads.
Microgreens are not a singular type of vegetable but are in fact a whole host of tiny plants that are great to grow indoors. These tiny plants are simply adorable in the way that baby shoes are. But that is not the end to their charm! Microgreens have been demonstrated to have 40 times the vitamins and nutrients than their macro counterparts. This is due to the fact that they concentrate more nutrients per plant and that you can eat several plants in a bite whereas other full sized vegetables may take several bites to consume.
Microgreens have gained quite a bit of popularity as of late. Chefs absolutely love them as do nutritionists. In fact, many urban farmers have made a middle class living out of converting their basements into microgreen growing facilities. They can be harvested quickly, take up little space, and are in high demand.
The following plants have microgreen potential: baby kale, arugula, beets, radishes, swiss chard, basil, and leeks. All you have to do is plant the seeds in about two inches of soil, give them appropriate water and sunlight, and then harvest them when they develop a set of about two leaves. Wait any longer and you'll be growing regular old greens!
Herbs can easily take a dish from boring to transcendent. They taste great, they smell great, and many provide a slew of health benefits to boot. The great thing about herbs is that they tend to take up very little space. The main tip we can offer that applies to nearly all herbs is that they may wilt if you keep them too close to un-insulated windows in the winter months. They love light, but too much cold can kill them.
We recommend a series of small pots to grow your herbs in. That way you can move them to the light when that is what they need but you can remove them from the windowsill when Jack Frost is breathing down their necks.
There are many types of herbs, and the flavors they provide can be radically different from one to another. (Mint creates a much different flavor profile than oregano does!) You probably have a set of favorite flavorings to choose between, but if you need a list of foolproof herbs for growing vegetables indoors, try one of these: basil, rosemary, cilantro, chives, thyme, oregano, or parsley.
Being a root vegetable, the potato is a wonderful choice for indoor growth. The major drawback of the potato is the length of time until maturity. It takes a few months for them to grow fully.
The growing technology for potatoes is really easy to figure out. Find an old potato with tons of sprouts. Cut that bad boy into chucks, each with a few sprouts. Then, take it and bury it in about 4 inches of soil. Now, it's a hurry up and wait game.
Luckily, you can have a rolling plant of these in your basement, so if you stagger when you plant every month, then you can have fresh, organic potatoes all year long! The growing techniques for potatoes work for both the sweet and regular varieties.
After you harvest the crop, you need to cure the potatoes. Lightly rinse off soil from the potatoes, taking care not to break the skin. Then leave them under a cloth for 7 to 10 days, without peeking.
Many articles are going to suggest that you can grow tomatoes indoors. This is only sort of true. After a few weeks, you need to move the tomato plants outdoors again. As a solution, we suggest that you grow peppers!
Almost any type of pepper can be grown successfully on your windowsill. The plant will need to get a ton of sunlight, so it may be a bad choice if you live in a very rainy area of the northeastern United States or Scotland. Around 6 hours of sunlight are needed for the peppers to flourish.
Peppers are also self-pollinating, so there is no need to allow some bees into your house. However, if the plant is flowering without producing peppers, then you can pollinate the plants yourself! Just tickle the stalk to release the pollen.
Peppers need hot weather. The hotter the weather becomes, the hotter the pepper is. So you need to keep your house above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. There are a few peppers that we would recommend to grow indoors over others. Jalapenos, habaneros, and Thai's Bird's eye chilis are sure fire bets.
If you are a bit of a lazy gardener, then peppers are a great choice. You can forget about picking the fruits, watering the plant, and pollinating for a few days without issue! This might be the easiest thing to grow on our list.
Another easy plant to grow indoors is the strawberry. However, these take up a lot of space to grow more than a handful, so if you are looking to supplement your diet or make an impact on your budget, then look to the pepper or radish.
If you have never had an organic, truly organic, strawberry, then you are really missing out. They taste almost nothing like the GMO monsters that are sold at the store. Organic strawberries are smaller than a quarter, extremely sweet with a tart aftertaste, and almost too intense to have more than a couple.
If you give strawberries good drainage, enough sun or lamp, and good heat, then you have no trouble growing more than a few mouthfuls. This is a great plant to grow if you have kids. They will absolutely love it.
Space-saving, easy to grow year-round when temperature permits, garlic is an excellent plant to grow indoors. You can plant the bulb in 2 inches of water or soil and watch as your plant thrives. No need for fancy plant food or hydroponics. A windowsill will do just fine.
The garlic tops, or the green shoot off the top can be used instead of scallions! So you are getting two for one veggie. Once the shoots reach 10 inches, then it is time to harvest the garlic. Typically only one flush of growth for the garlic is strong. After you harvest the first growth, take a new bulb and plant it for a rolling harvest of garlic all year long! Oh, think of the pizzas.
We have good news for bugs bunny. Even in the dead of winter, in a pot in your basement, you can grow amazing carrots. They do need a bit of light for the leaves on top and photosynthesis, but otherwise, they do not require much else. Water pretty often, but they do not need fancy hydroponics or drainage systems.
Carrots are a root vegetable, so there is no need to worry about pollination or heat. The soil does pretty much everything for you. This is a lazy as you can grow a vegetable. Carrots plants take a few weeks to germinate, then it depends on the variety that you are growing for the length of growth. Of course, you can always pick one when you get hungry.
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