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Even though the gardening season may come to an end outside, it doesn’t mean gardening has to stop. There are so many wonderful vegetables that you can grow indoors just as easy. Even if you don’t have a greenhouse, you can still grow vegetables year-round on a shelf in the kitchen, on a windowsill, or in containers with the right conditions.
Most homes keep an average temperature of around 65° to 75° year round. These are ideal temperatures for many vegetables to grow indoors. Being able to sustain these temperatures in the home means that the winter cold no longer is an issue for a small vegetable garden. If temperatures average between 70° and 80° during the day, and 65° to 70° at night in your home, then try your hand at indoor vegetable gardening!
Having the right temperature out of the way brings on a concern for lighting. Although a sunny windowsill may be enough light for some plants like lettuce and other leafy-type vegetables, it is not adequate for other vegetables that require higher amounts of light. Fruiting vegetables such as eggplant and tomatoes require a lot more light to provide a great yield. Some plants such as mushroom require very little light and can pretty much thrive in any poorly lit condition.
The size and type of pot used and amount and type of potting medium play an important part in the success of indoor vegetables, as well as watering frequency and humidity.
Below I will address the top 10 easiest vegetables to grow indoors along with the requirements of each one.
Top 10 Vegetables to Grow Indoors:
Radishes are the easiest and most successful vegetable to grow indoors. Plant weekly for a continuous harvest. Radishes grow well when planted with carrots. Plant radishes 6-8″ deep. You can grow carrots in a 5-gallon window box.
Carrots grow well in loose draining soil with about 5 to 6 hours of bright sunlight. A grow light works well with these veggies because if the light is compromised, growth can be slow. Choose the rounder varieties and plant seeds well enough apart to allow room to grow. You can use a 5-gallon window box at least 12″ deep and plant seeds about 1″ deep. Keep the potting mixture moist by placing some soaked peat moss over the top. They should sprout in about 2 weeks. Most carrots are ready for harvest when their tops have grown to about 3/4″ across.
Lettuce thrives in only 3 to 4 hours of dappled sunlight on a windowsill. It grows great under artificial light. Lettuce appreciates a little cooler air and grows well in a 5-gallon window box planted 6-8″ deep. Water regularly and keep the soil moist to the touch. The loose leaf varieties are the best choice because you can remove the outer leaves often for a continuous harvest. Spinach can be grown using the exact same method.
Scallions require absolutely no seeds at all. Instead of buying seeds, just purchase scallions from your local grocery store. Simply wrap a rubber band around the bulbs and toss in a jar of clean water about an inch or two deep. Make sure you change the water daily. When the new sprouts appear and the roots have doubled in length (usually about 10 days), plant them in a shallow pot. Water regularly and keep in full sun. To harvest simply snip off the green tops leaving about 2 inches of the plant. The bulbs will regrow.
Tomatoes need an unglazed pot with good drainage. The pots should be at the very least 6″ deep as you should only place one plant per pot. Tomatoes require a lot of sunlight so a very sunny windowsill or a gro-light is necessary. Grown indoors, the fruit will be smaller in size but deliciously tasty. Cherry tomatoes seem to do better than it’s larger counterparts. If you grow the larger varieties, staking may be necessary unless you grow them upside down.
Peppers are a heat-loving plant and require constant 75° temperatures. They also need direct sunlight like tomatoes. A perfect soil mix is equal parts vermiculite, coarse sand, and peat moss. Pinch the growing tips to promote bushier growth.
7. Bush Beans:
Believe it or not, bush beans do great as long as they receive direct sunlight. Their potting mix should be enriched with compost. The trickiest part of bush beans is that soil should stay around 85° and the soil should stay moist. Water bush beans from the saucer at the bottom and not overhead. You can use a heat mat to keep the soil regulated. Green beans can be harvested about 2 months after planting.
Although some people having differing opinions on peas, the cooler varieties do well in the home. I grow mine in my bathroom window in a hanging basket. Simply wrap the runners around the basket and chain or let hang. Peas require a good mix of rich potting soil and sand and some compost and require regular watering.
Potatoes can be grown very simply indoors. Make sure you choose large pots at least 6″ deep filled with potting soil and sand mixed at a ratio of 10:1. Potatoes prefer a more sandy soil. Plant the sprouts directly into the soil and water regularly. Potatoes do need direct sunlight so you may want to have a grow light.
Although not a vegetable, catnip is the easiest indoor plant to grow that is just as useful to people as cats! It requires a pot with drainage holes in the bottom and a potting mix that drains water well. Set the potted plant on a windowsill and water well. You can cut off what you need and it will always grow back.
Gardening is a fun and relaxing hobby for many people, but if you don’t have a garden or live in a cold climate then growing vegetables indoors may be the way to go. There are many vegetables that do very well and depending on the equipment, the temperature of your home, and the condition of lighting, the possibilities are endless. If you have questions about which kind of lighting may be most suited for your indoor vegetables, ask the local gardening center for their recommendations. Local hardware stores and places like Home Depot and Lowes are other sources of artificial lighting.
Growing your own food is important with all the commercial pesticides and whatnots that we have to worry about in our local grocery stores. See Commercially Grown Foods: Is it Killing Us? Having an indoor vegetable garden can allow your family to enjoy healthy and fresh vegetables all year round.
For more information on lighting, see Tower Garden’s post which explains lighting in explicit detail here.
Do you grow any vegetables inside your home? Tell me about them in the comments below.