For several years now I’ve had a small garden outdoors for vegetables and a place to grow herbs. I live in the midwest so unfortunately my window for growing food in an outdoor space is limited. Each spring I choose the best vegetables based on my desires for the season, I fertilize my garden soil, plant the seeds at least four inches apart, make sure the garden has enough light to promote plant grow, and then wait. After a few weeks of watering, keeping the soil moist, and watching, the seeds germinate and sprouts begin to show through the soil.
I love to grow my own food and each year I am so disappointed when the end of August rolls around and my garden is almost all harvested. So this year, rather than sit around all winter and wait to plant my own veggies again in the spring – I have committed to growing vegetables indoors.
After a few weeks of research I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned so others can easily do the same thing if they decide to grow vegetables indoors too. Who knew I had such a green thumb!?
What Is An Indoor Vegetable Garden?
An indoor vegetable garden is a garden that is planted and grown indoors using both artificial light and natural sunlight.
Indoor gardening is an extremely affordable alternative to keeping a small backyard or patio garden. You can grow your very own vegetables and herbs. There is no reason why you should limit yourself to only vegetables. You could grow fruits like tomato or pepper, branch into herbs or microgreens, or even brighten the living area with simple garden decorations. There are endless possibilities with an appropriate configuration. This article will provide some details on indoor gardening and hopefully help you decide just what you may want to grow.
How Do I Set Up An Indoor Vegetable Garden?
There are many ways you can set up an indoor vegetable garden using your own supplies and labor however one of the most simplest ways is to purchase an indoor garden tower or growing system. I’ve done a ton of research, and these systems are low maintenance and make it very easy to grow vegetables indoors. They even come with grow lights to help with growing your home garden in a place without a lot of direct sunlight.
If you decide not to use an indoor growing tower or kit you will need to set up your home environment to grow indoors and create healthy plants by considering these things:
- Air Circulation: Air circulation is important to prevent mold and fungus from growing on the plants. Outdoor spaces have a continuous flow of air where as indoor spaces do not.
- Light: Light requirements vary depending on what plants you are growing. Natural light is amazing but can be unpredictable so being prepared for this is important. Some plants require indirect light and some direct sunlight. Regardless of your natural light situation – be prepared to use some artificial source of sunlight.
- Humidity: Humidity levels need to be in the rage of 40-50% for most crops to thrive. You can purchase a humidity and temperature gauge on Amazon.
- Soil or Growing Medium: There are many organic potting mix bags you can purchase for veggies
- Containers: The containers you choose must have good drainage to promote well draining soil.
- Water: If you have hard water or water that is heavy in salts you will want to water your plants with distilled water
- Temperature: It’s very important to keep the room temperature between 60degrees f. and 70degree f.
There is not a better time to start planting and indoor garden than now! Because you are planning to grow indoors and harvest indoors, the weather plays no part in your decision to start, and planting during the winter months is totally possible.
Now That I Have My Set Up – How Do I Start?
If you are all set up with the elements listed above and you are not using an indoor growing kit or tower, you are going to set up your growing space and start your own indoor vegetable garden by planting the seeds in the potting soil you purchased.
The seeds you select are going to be based on the light you have to offer and the condition of your growing space taking the 7 things into consideration from the above paragraph. It’s very important to set up a maintenance schedule for yourself so you can ensure your plants are remaining healthy. Setting up a time daily to check temperature and humidity levels is important for the success of growing food indoors.
Remember that different plants have different lighting needs so making sure you are providing your plants with adequate light and the proper amount of light based off of their instructions is key. Instructions for growing your veggies or plants are typically found on the backside of the seed pouch.
If you are using an indoor garden kit or growing tower, seeds are typically purchased through them and come in little kits and instructions on how to get started.
Are Salad Greens A Good Plant To Grow Indoors?
Leafy salad greens are incredible plants to start growing indoors. Outdoors they tend to attract a lot of bugs and their growing season is short, but indoors they thrive.
If you choose to use an indoor growing kit there are a plethora of brands that offer a wide variety of leafy greens to choose from. But, if you are planting in containers on your own – this is still a great choice!
Leafy greens require at least 5 hours of direct sunlight to grow but do much better with more than that. A sunny windowsill or bright window will work, however getting enough light is vital so considering using grow lights because of their consistency may be a good choice.
What Kind Of Salad Greens Are Good To Grow Indoors?
1. Arugula –
Arugula has a few different varieties and they can all be grown indoors. Mixing arugula into butter lettuce or other types of lettuce adds an additional pop of flavor to your salads!
2. Butter Lettuce –
Butter lettuce has been labeled as beginner friendly to grow by the Urban Leaf. I will take it – I need all the help I can get.
3. Kale –
Kale is also another beginner friendly green and is also considered a super food! Kale Chips are amazing to make and adding kale to a salad is also a delicious option.
4. Spinach –
Want big muscles? Spinach is a healthy plant that contains a fair amount of protein as well as fiber. It’s a great addition to salads and also sautéed in many meat dishes.
5. Green Onions –
Green onions add a ton of flavor to salad dishes and are basically just underdeveloped onions. They are picked before the bulb grows and the green part is eaten rather than the bulb.
Oak Leaf lettuce is great to grow indoors because you can remove a few leaves every week and then come back for more the next. It’s also got small leaves so its is a good fit for smaller gardens or containers.
7. Green Mustard –
Not like the mustard you put on your brat, these greens grow well and require little maintenance as long as you provide them with the nutrients they need. They kind of have a peppery flavor and pair well with sautéed onions and garlic.
8. Romaine –
Romaine is a popular green almost everyone has heard of. Many people eat this green in a salad, on tacos or in wraps.
9. Watercress –
Watercress has a ton of vitamin K & C plus it tastes great too. Some would say it also has a peppery flavor or a bitter taste if its leaves become too mature. Try watercress raw or cooked. Some say when cooked it loses a bit of its bitterness.
10. Endive –
Endive comes from the chicory plant family and can be eaten raw or cooked.
My Favorite Indoor Vegetable Garden Veggies That Can Be Grown Indoors
1. Sprouts & Microgreens –
These to veggies are just as easy to grow as salad greens and are packed with a nutritional punch!
2. Garlic –
Who doesn’t love the taste of garlic when added to vegetables, meats, chilies and more! This year I’m growing my own garlic greens.
3. Radishes –
These veggies add a peppery punch to many dishes and are an easy plant to grow because of their shallow roots.
4. Beets –
Beets are extremely nutritious – but watch out! Eating beets puts you at risk for pink pee and poop! Often mistaken for blood – many have been pleasantly surprised when they realized the discoloration was from beets rather than something very scary! (Not that I know this from personal experience or anything : – )
5. Carrots –
Needing only about 4 hours of direct sunlight, these veggies are easy to grow and also very popular.
6. Bush Beans –
My kid loves green beans and this year I couldn’t plant enough in the garden. Adding a couple extra plants may not be a bad idea this year.
7. Mini Tomatoes –
Mini tomatoes are fun to grow indoors and quite colorful too. They need 8 hours of sunlight a day so make sure your indoor garden is not in the shade.
8. Hot Peppers –
Growing peppers indoors is a breeze and the seeds can be kept from peppers you have eaten. Plants grow well in plastic pots or plastic trays if you aren’t using a grow kit.
9. Zucchini –
Making zucchini bread is one of my favorite things to do. During winter months I would have to buy overpriced ill looking zucchini from the store. Not this year! I’m going to grow my own.
10. Bell Peppers –
Red, yellow and green bell peppers can be grown indoors. I LOVE making stuffed peppers. Although these veggies can be a bit finicky to grow indoors, it is still very possible and rewarding when harvest time comes.
What Are A Couple Indoor Garden Fruits?
Strawberries are a classic fruit and can be used in so many ways! One can cut them up for a topping on ice cream, you can eat them plain or dipped in chocolate, they can be used in a protein shake or you can even put them on salads.
2. Cherry Tomatoes
Most people think of tomatoes as a vegetable, however they are a fruit! Talk about versatility! Pasta sauce, salsa, tacos, and more…. Tomatoes are one fruit you don’t want to be without. When growing them indoors, you can give each plant their own container if you aren’t using a growing tower.
Here is an amazing healthy shake recipe that not only includes strawberries, but cauliflower and protein too! It’s so important to eat diet balanced with proteins, carbs and fats that includes whole foods as often possible to ensure that we live long healthy lives and this shake will get us off to the right start.
Strawberry Shortcake Smoothie
- 8 oz unsweetened almond milk
- 1/2 cup sliced strawberries
- 1 cup frozen riced cauliflower
- 1tbs raw cashews
- 1 sprinkle of vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp lemon zest
- 1 scoop strawberry or vanilla protein powder
Blend all the ingredients together and enjoy! This shake is also a great way to “disguise” veggies from your kids. It tastes so good they won’t even know there is cauliflower in it.
If it’s summer or hot where you live, you can even pour this recipe into popsicle molds to make strawberry protein popsicles your kids will absolutely love!
After reading this article I hope you realize that indoor vegetable gardening is not as difficult as you may have originally thought. Often times I have the best intentions to take action after learning about something new and then I never follow through with actually implementing it.
Your next steps will determine how quickly you will be eating food that you have grown. Don’t waste this valuable knowledge! Make a plan to get started today! Decide if you are going to go with a tower garden/kit, or pots and trays. Purchase your supplies and get started on planting your seeds!
Here are some links for a few great tower garden options! This is the direction I have chosen to go due to the fact I love the seed kits, the ease of use and how everything is just ready for you.
- AeroGarden – AeroGarden Harvest Elite with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit
- Lettuce Grow Farmstand – Lettuce Grow Farmstand | 36-Plant Hydroponic Growing System
- Click & Grow – Indoor Herb Garden Kit with Grow Light
I would love to hear how your indoor vegetable garden venture is going! Please DM me or email me at email@example.com !