There’s more than one way to plant a bounteous vegetable crop. It’s possible to have a hearty garden even if you don’t have space in the backyard, even if you don’t have a patio or balcony for containers, and even in the dead of winter.
The approach may be different than planting seeds in the ground, but it isn’t difficult to grow vegetables in the convenience of your toasty, warm home. And, unlike growing vegetables outdoors, you’ll have total control over temperature, water and light – all without bothersome bugs and pesky weeds.
You may, however, need to provide supplemental lighting, especially if you’re growing vegetables indoors during the winter months. If the atmosphere in your home is dry, mist the plants frequently or raise the moisture level with a humidifier.
Vegetables aren’t fussy about containers. Nearly anything will suffice, as long as it has a good drainage hole in the bottom. Use a good quality potting mix. Don’t attempt to use garden soil; it won’t work.
Starter plants may be difficult to find, but if you plant seeds, the top of the refrigerator is a good place to provide a little extra warmth for germination.
Now that you know the scoop on growing vegetables indoors, here is a list of the best, indoor-friendly veggie plants.
1. Tomatoes do well indoors with plenty of light and warmth, but they need a good-sized container – preferably at least five gallons, even if you grow dwarf or patio varieties. Once the tomatoes bloom, you’ll probably have to help with pollination by giving the plants a gentle shake to release the pollen. Choose indeterminate tomatoes, which will grow and product fruit indefinitely.
2. Eggplant and peppers belong to the same plant family as tomatoes, and their growing conditions are similar. Look for dwarf varieties that take up less valuable growing space.
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3. Carrots generally need deep soil to accommodate the long roots, but you can plant dwarf or round types successfully in pots. Sprinkle the seeds over the surface of moist potting soil, and then clip the tiny seedlings to ½ inch apart soon after they germinate. Once the carrots reach 3 inches, thin them again to a distance of about an inch.
4. Radishes are easy to grow just about anywhere, and growing them indoors is no exception. Like carrots, round or dwarf varieties fit best in containers.
5. Potatoes don’t require a lot of space, but they need large, deep pots because you’ll need to add straw or compost to build up layers over the plants as they grow. You can even grow potatoes in a garbage bag with the top rolled down; then roll up the top as they grow.
6. Mushrooms are a fun indoor crop. It’s easy to get started with kits, but you can also purchase mushroom spawn and do it yourself. The growing medium depends on the type of mushroom, but you may need to stock up on straw or sawdust. (Or rotten manure if your mushrooms are in a garage).
7. Beets do fine in lower temperatures, but they need plenty of light. Don’t crowd the plants, as beets need space for the roots to develop.
8. Lettuce is one of the few vegetables that you can plant in a small pot if you’re low on space. Like beets, lettuce is a cool season vegetable that doesn’t require a lot of heat.
9. Green onions do great in a sunny window. They don’t require much growing space if you harvest them while they’re small.