Not everyone has a yard, but that doesn’t mean they can’t grow edible plants.
Today we are looking at several vegetables and herbs you can grow indoors.
You may be surprised to learn that 43% of American agricultural crops are grown under protection. Under protection can mean in a greenhouse or hoop tunnel, but it’s not that much different from your living room, if you have enough sunlight.
Before we look at specific plants, let’s consider the particulars of growing indoors:
Now for the list of edible plants that you can grow indoors!
Carrots grow well in containers. They are not very competitive and are easily discouraged by rocks and compacted soil. Cover seeds only lightly with soil. Mist them each day to keep the seeds moist until they germinate. Your carrot tops will make nice houseplants and can be used repeatedly to make new carrots.
In the same way, you can use the base of a celery plant repeatedly for stalks. Just keep in mind that your homegrown celery may not look like the thick, straight stalks you see in the grocery store. If you want them to look like that, you have to put in a little extra effort. See my post on celery for more information about that.
While bell peppers are best left outdoors, you can grow smaller chili peppers indoors. These attractive plants need a lot of heat and sunlight to produce fruit. While most pepper plants are self-pollinating, you can increase your crop size by hand-pollinating, or just giving your pepper plants a gentle shake every now and then.
Many herbs prefer the outdoor life, but you can still grow chervil, chives, cilantro, ginger, lemon balm, lemongrass, marjoram, mints, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme , and turmeric indoors. Most of these herbs need at least 5–6 hours of sunlight each day. Basil can be grown indoors, but it needs more sunlight than that.
Alfalfa sprouts aren’t the only microgreens you can grow at home. Sprouts are nice additions to salads and sandwiches, and they require little to no soil to grow. You can use a sprouting jar or a shallow tray filled with moist potting soil. Arugula, basil, beet, chard, cilantro, kale, and radish are just a few plants you can grow as microgreens. [Do not use members of the nightshade family in this project as the seedlings can be poisonous.]
If you’ve never tried one of those mushroom growing kits, I urge you to give it a go. It’s amazing to watch and the mushrooms are delicious. No sunlight is required.
Your indoor pea plants will climb whatever they can get their little tendrils around and you can use that to your (and their) advantage. Put something they can climb in front of a window. Before you know it, you can be harvesting sweet, fresh peas.
With just a little space and light and you can have fresh radishes year-round. And the nice thing is, you are not limited to the traditional red globes of your childhood. Radishes now come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. And they still germinate in only a few days.
Add some strawberry crowns to an indoor planter and watch as the magic happens. You will need to hand-pollinate your strawberries, but you won’t have to fight with slugs and snails!
Ah, tomatoes. The joy of every gardener. Your indoor tomatoes will require lots of light and hand-pollinating, but they are worth it. And a staked cherry tomato plant is a sight to see (and eat)!
Other crops that can, with enough sunlight and space, be grown indoors include cauliflower, cucumbers, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Before taking on these trickier behemoths, start with something smaller and simpler to see how it all works. Remember that temperature and humidity have a big impact on plant health. Also, plants tend to grow more slowly indoors.
While I normally urge everyone to avoid planting grocery store produce, due to the potential of pests and diseases, this case is different. These plants will all be growing in containers. If there is a problem, it is limited to that container (unless it’s aphids or fungus gnats). Worst case scenario, you throw the whole thing in the trash and start over. Growing these edible plants indoors, it is easy to start with the base of store-bought celery or scallions or the tops of grocery store carrots.
Finally, to keep your indoor plants healthy and productive, you may want to turn a fan on them once in a while. Plants need the stimulation of touch to grow well. This is called thigmomorphogenesis. [How’s that for a cool garden word?]
What edible plants are growing in your house?
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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