Indoor gardening is not for spices, herbs and ornamental plants alone. You can use the same method to grow a table full of vegetables. In other words, you can complete the entire growth cycle of edible vegetables (from seed sowing to harvest) inside your house.
So, the idea of growing vegetables indoors is perfect if you don’t have an outdoor gardening space or if the weather (outside) is terrible, like in winter. Here is the best part- you don’t need any special equipment to do it.
When it comes to indoor vegetables, the key is to grow hardy vegetables and create an ideal growing environment for them to thrive. Sure, the growth rate will be slow and your indoor garden will be limited to certain plants. Still, you can accomplish a lot with just an understanding of the basics and a few essential supplies.
Fortunately, this article will cover it all. So without further ado, let’s talk about growing vegetables indoors.
What vegetables can you grow indoors?
The chances of success are higher if you choose the right plant for this venture. Indoor vegetables have qualities that allow them to survive indoors. They are generally hardy, tolerant, and easy to sow and care for.
So here are the plants we recommend trying as a beginner. With time and experience, you can try growing more high-maintenance crops like those that can’t self-pollinate.
These include basil, peppermint, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley and spearmint. These vegetables are generally easy to grow indoors as long as they get enough light.
These include kale, chard, spinach, Pock Choi, rocket, arugula and mustard leaf. Leafy greens make great indoor vegetables because they are hardy, fast-growing and compact.
Compared to the last two, peppers need a lot more space and time to mature and produce healthy fruits. However, they still make great indoor vegetables if you provide a good growing medium, a suitable container and enough sunlight.
Tomatoes also require more time and root space. However, they will flourish with enough sunlight, root space and good soil. They will also need support for the twigs to climb.
Carrots are always one of the first indoor vegetables on any list. They will flourish indoors if you ensure enough sunlight and root space.
Radishes don’t need much warmth or sunlight. However, you still need to provide enough root space.
All your indoor potatoes need is enough sunlight and root space. So choose a big container and place them near windows or anywhere they can get enough light.
The final indoor vegetable on our list, cucumber, also do well indoors despite its slow growth rate. You just need to provide space and sunlight.
What supplies do you need to grow vegetables indoors?
Here are the supplies you need to grow and care for indoor vegetables.
Plants need light for photosynthesis. However, the amount of light required varies from one plant to another. For example, tomatoes need more light than spinach. Still, all your indoor plants need some light every day.
Natural sunlight is the cheapest and most efficient way to provide this. So place your indoor vegetables near windows and doorways where they can get enough sunlight. You will also need grow lights, especially in winter when there is not enough sunlight.
There are three main categories of professional grow lights, flourescent, HID and LED
Indoor vegetables need a nutrient-rich, well-drained growing medium. You can create this using your soil mix or organic potting soil from a local store. Whatever you do, ensure you use a growing medium that is free of pests and diseases.
You need a container with drainage holes. It should also have enough root space for the chosen plant. You can always transplant a plant that outgrows its container, but it is easier to get these things right initially.
As for the container type, anything will do. Plastic, wood, ceramic, clay or metal will all work. However, note that clay containers are not water-efficient. The growing medium will dry up too quickly.
Finally, stick to one plant per container.
Because you are dealing with potted plants, you want to water them regularly but moderately. Just slightly water the growing medium and the plant’s body. This will prevent waterlogging.
You can use a watering can or spray bottle to handle the job. However, there are many other options, such as automated systems.
This will help with air circulation and cross-pollination. You need good air circulation to protect your indoor vegetables from fungus and mould. An ordinary electric fan will do, but it is better to get one that has a timer.
You will need this to measure room temperature. The ideal temperature for growing vegetables indoors is 60°F/15°C to 70°F/20°C.
Finally, you will need to add fertiliser as your plants grow and the growing medium loses nutrients to leaching. Use organic or slow-release fertiliser.
How to start growing vegetables indoors
There are two ways to start your indoor vegetables.
Sow seeds directly into the container
Your seed packet will come with instructions but here is the process in a couple of steps.
- Prepare the growing medium and ensure it is warm and moist
- Dig a shallow hole to sow the seeds
- Cover with soil
- Water gently
- Wait for the seed to germinate
Start the plant elsewhere, then transplant seedlings into the final container
You can start the plant in a nursery, seed tray, or even another container. Then when the plant is ready, you can transplant it into the final container. Here is a quick step-by-step guide for transplanting indoor vegetables.
- Use a tool (trowel etc.) to uproot the seedling/plant with its root ball. Avoid damaging the root system.
- In the final container, dig a hole slightly larger than the plant’s root system.
- Plant the uprooted plant in this new container.
- Fill up the space with soil or a growing medium.
- Wait for a few days to add fertiliser
Once again, the key to successfully growing vegetables indoors is to choose the right crop and create an optimal growing condition. The optimal growing condition will vary depending on the crop. However, it generally involves
- enough sunlight,
- a nutritious and well-drained growing medium
- a temperature of about 60-70°F and
- a humidity of 40-50%
Simply put, your indoor vegetables will need a lot of daily attention. Chiefly, you may have to move it closer to a window (for sunlight) or away from the window (to avoid too much heat or cold) at least once daily. You may also have to help with pollination.
Once you keep all of these in mind, you won’t have much difficulty growing vegetables indoors.