I really enjoy growing my own fresh fruits and vegetables – it’s one of my favorite pastimes. I love the taste of sweet, freshly-picked fruits and vegetables, straight from my own garden. Sometimes, growing your own food is a requirement for survival instead of just being a pleasant hobby.
You can grow various types of food inside your home, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, herbs, lettuce, and greens. All you need is some basic knowledge about how to grow them, the right supplies, and a little bit of care.
I started growing food indoors this year when the pandemic hit. I realized that I needed to grow more food at home. I’m not new to the home production scene, but suddenly I was driven to make it more than a hobby.
Basics of Growing Vegetables and Herbs Indoors
One of the easiest plants to grow indoors are greens. They are typically pest and disease free when grown correctly. The following is how I grow my lettuce indoors.
#1 – Plants need light in order to live, whether it be from the sun or artificial light.
Growing an indoor garden can be difficult if there is not enough natural light. Vegetables and greens usually need good sun exposure to grow well. Sometimes, artificial light may be necessary to help the plants grow optimally.
The best plant growth will happen when there are at least 12 hours of light each day. To make up for the shorter days in winter, some plants may need extra light from a lamp.
Light Bulb Specifications for Growing Plants
There is no need to spend a lot of money on grow lights. You can get good results with inexpensive shop lights if you buy the right type of bulb. Look for a bulb with a Kelvin rating of 5,000 to 6,500 and an output of at least 2,500 lumens.
To ensure your plants are getting enough light, grow lights should be positioned close to them. You may need to make your lights adjustable so they can be moved closer to plants as they grow. If your plants appear yellow or leggy, this may be a sign that they are not receiving enough light. Healthy plants will have a vibrant color and thick, healthy stems.
#2 – Give Roots Plenty of Room to Grow
I start most plants in a small container and then transplant them into a larger pot once they’ve outgrown their current one. Small containers limit the potential size of the plant and can affect its overall health and production negatively.
#3 – Provide Good Drainage to Prevent Root Rot
To ensure your indoor plants are getting the right amount of moisture, use quality potting soil. It may cost a bit more, but it’s worth it to have healthy plants.
There are not many plants that can tolerate having their roots constantly wet. I created a low-cost system using plastic dishpans. Jon drilled drainage holes in the top dishpan. A second dishpan underneath captures any excess water. I placed thin pieces of scrap wood between the dishpans to allow room for the water to drain. It is not my dream system, but it is affordable.
#4 – Consider Growing Temperatures
The temperature recommendations on the seed packet are a good starting point. You should maintain the right temperature for the plants you are growing. Although plants can withstand temperature changes to some extent, there are a few things you should bear in mind. A good place to start is by looking at the temperature recommendations on the seed packet.
Ideal temperature for lettuce growth is between 65 and 70 degrees. Lettuce requires an average temperature of 50 degrees to grow; too cold will slow growth and too hot will encourage the plant to bolt.
While peppers require a temperature of 85° to germinate, they are much more adaptable to different temperatures after the seedling stage as long as they don’t freeze.
#5 – Air Movement Builds Strong Plants
Outdoor plants are stronger because of the exposure to air movement. You can create a similar effect by using fans to create a gentle breeze. If your garden is in a room with windows, open them to let the natural breezes come through. Do not confuse drafts with healthy air movement.
#6 – Fertilize Regularly
Indoor plants don’t get the natural fertilization that they would from being outdoors. You need to provide them with nutrients.
The text is talking about how often to fertilize plants. It says that some potting soil comes with slow-release fertilizers, so you do not have to fertilize for a few months. It also says that the author usually fertilizes every few days with an organic fertilizer that is designed for edible plants.
Preppers keep a stash of important supplies on hand at all times. This includes fertilizers for their indoor gardens. Here are a few of the best options available online.
- Neptune’s Harvest Fish Fertilizer (not stinky)
- Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer
- Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer Spikes
- Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Edibles Plant Nutrition Granules
#7 – Harvest Daily
The more you harvest responsibly, the more your plants will produce. I start selectively harvesting leaves from lettuce and greens when they are about 4 inches tall. The cut-and-come-again method lets me harvest the young leaves while allowing the plant to continue growing. I do not cut more than one-third of the plant at a time so that the plant can quickly replace the leaves that I have harvested.
To harvest using the cut-and-come-again method, first cut the outer leaves at the base of the plant about 1 inch from the soil. The plant will then continue to grow new lettuce in the center for a while longer. For the best flavor and texture, harvest in the morning.
#8 – Plant All Year to Harvest All Year
Indoor gardening is not constrained by the seasons and can be done year-round.
Continually Plant New Crops
All types of lettuce and greens will eventually go to seed. Some varieties last longer than others. Most greens and lettuce plants have a limited productive life, but you can significantly increase that productive life by using the cut-and-come-again harvest method.
By having plants at different stages of growth, you can ensure a constant supply of fresh greens. When you begin to harvest from one set of greens, plant a new container to ensure a continuous supply. Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers don’t need to be replanted as often as greens.
Try Perennials in Your Indoor Garden
You can grow a few kinds of greens that come back every year. One kind of spinach called Malabar can be grown as a houseplant inside. I am trying it out in my indoor garden.
Perennial herbs like oregano, thyme, chives, and mints are perfect for your indoor garden. Not only are they beautiful, but they’re also productive.
You can produce an exact replica of your favorite plant by taking a cutting from it and growing it in potting mix. This process, called cloning, results in a plant that is genetically identical to the parent plant. If you have a plant that you love and want to grow more of, you can do so by cloning it or taking cuttings from it and growing them in potting mix. This process, called cloning, will result in plants that are genetically identical to the parent plant.
I am trying to produce cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers indoors so that my garden will start producing right before frost kills my outdoor plants. I have some favorite tomatoes and cucumbers that I have taken cuttings from and started indoors for my winter indoor crop.
9 Best Vegetables To Grow Indoors
- Sprouts and microgreens
To get the best results, use 1020 propagation trays (these are the standard black plastic trays you see in nurseries) or aluminum baking pans. You can even use and reuse disposable aluminum pans―any shallow pan or tray will work. Unlike with other vegetables, there’s no need for drainage holes since sprouts and microgreens require so little water.
Fill a tray with 2 inches of potting soil and then evenly scatter the seeds on top of the soil. Add a thin layer of soil on top of the seeds and then water lightly to keep the soil moist.
Plant new seeds every 7 to 10 days to have a never-ending supply of sprouts (give or take a few days, depending on how often you eat them).
If you don’t want to deal with soil, you can use grow mats (like these biodegradable hemp mats) or self-watering grow kits that include a tray and some starter mats.
Sprouts and microgreens are good as indoor salad greens because low light just makes them taller, which gives you a tastier harvest.
Wait until the plant stems are 2 to 3 inches tall, then cut them at the soil level.
Seed to harvest: 7 to 21 days
- Salad greens
There are many leafy greens that can be grown indoors, such as loose-leaf lettuce, spinach, chard, arugula, kale, sorrel, and mustard greens. These greens can be harvested at the baby leaf stage or when they are fully grown, depending on your preference.
I recommend growing salad greens as cut-and-come-again crops, which means you harvest a few outer leaves from each plant and it continues to grow new leaves.
I recommend planting seeds 2 inches apart, then thinning the seedlings so they are 4 to 8 inches apart depending on how large you want the final plants to be.
Seed to harvest: 21 to 58 days
Scallions are an excellent crop to grow indoors that will last all year without needing to be replanted.
The leafy green part can be cut off as it is growing, or the whole plant can be harvested with the bulb and roots still attached once the leaves are as thick as a pencil.
If you leave your scallions in the ground, they will keep growing and developing new bulbs, forming a clump that can be pulled apart the next year and transplanted to create new plants.
Seed to harvest: 60 to 65 days
If you grow garlic indoors, you will only get garlic greens, but that is perfectly fine.
Garlic greens are a great way to add some flavor to your food. They have a mild taste that is a cross between garlic and onion. You can use them the same way you would use scallions. Simply cut off a few inches of the stem and add it to your food.
You can start harvesting garlic leaves when they are at least 6-8 inches tall.
This is a plant that will come back every year if you don’t harvest the bulb. However, the plant will be healthier if you pull up and divide the cloves every year to prevent them from getting too close together.
, 60 to 180 days for garlic The time it takes for garlic greens to go from seed to harvest is 14 to 21 days. The time it takes for garlic to go from seed to harvest is 60 to 180 days.
- Spring radishes
Radishes are a good choice for indoor growing because they have shallow roots and don’t need a lot of space. They mature quickly, which makes them one of the easiest vegetables for beginners to grow.
Plant radish seeds every two weeks for a continuous supply of roots and leaves. Radishes can be planted three inches apart in all directions, and harvested when the roots are about an inch in diameter.
Seed to harvest: 24 to 30 days
You can grow beets indoors for both their roots and their nutrient-packed leafy greens.
When planting beet seeds, you may notice that multiple seedlings appear to be sprouting from a single seed.
A beet seed does not only contain one seed, but a group of many small seeds.
You should thin them 3 to 6 inches apart so that they have enough space to grow properly. These thinnings can be used as microgreens in salads or sandwiches.
IIt takes baby beets 40 days to grow from seed to harvest, and 50 to 65 days to mature.
Carrots, like most root vegetables, are good to grow indoors because they don’t need as much light as fruiting vegetables to produce a good crop—they can get by with at least 4 hours of direct sun if that’s all you have.
This means that although more light may help the plants grow more quickly, you may have to wait a few extra weeks before you can harvest them.
I prefer shorter, fatter varieties of carrots that are container-grown and don’t need much depth. Round carrots like Tonda di Parigi are perfect for pots, but you can grow any variety as long as you have a deep enough container (at least 12 inches deep), or you harvest the carrots in the baby stage.
It takes 40 days for baby carrots to be ready to harvest, and 60 to 75 days for carrots to be fully mature.
- Bush beans
Bush beans are different from pole beans because they are shorter and stay upright.
Fruiting crops that need as little as 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight are rare, which is why I suggest them as a shade plant for a vegetable garden.
Plants should be spaced 6 inches apart. New seeds should be sown every three weeks.
Seed to harvest: 50 to 60 days
A non-vining variety of snap pea, like Tendersweet, only needs a small trellis or teepee for support and can grow upright to 18 inches. This would be much easier to harvest than a traditional vine.
All types of peas can be eaten including the bush pea, which is a compact plant. All parts of the plant are edible including the pea shoots, pea flowers, and pea pods.
Try to give the plants as much light as possible to help the pods mature faster. If you can’t give them enough light, don’t worry, the shoots will still taste sweet.
Pea shoots will be ready to harvest in 21 days, and the peas will be mature in 65 to 75 days.