Did you know you can create an environment in your home in which almost anything can grow, all year long? Imagine yourself in bleak winter, harvesting lettuce greens and tomatoes from your indoor garden!
Indoor gardening has become more realistic for the average household as technology has advanced. Using a grow tent, you can create whatever conditions your vegetables need to thrive. This specialized room creates a little corner of summer in your home, with temperature and humidity controls, plus specialized lighting.
So what can kind of vegetables can be grown indoors, given the right conditions?
Some varieties of lettuce will grow back when you cut them! These are termed “leaf lettuce” or “cutting lettuce.”
Start them from seeds by sowing 5-15 in a rectangular pot with excellent, well-draining potting mix under a thin layer of soil and a generous misting of water (don’t over soak them or they’ll drown!) You’ll need to thin them down to 3-5 plants once they’ve sprouted.
Make sure your soil and container have good drainage as lettuce roots will rot if they sit in water.
A sunny window may suffice for lettuce greens because lettuce is a cool weather crop, but in the winter months you’ll probably need to treat them to extra lighting.
Tomatoes and peppers (see below) are well worth the effort to grow in your home all year round. The nutrients they offer (especially vitamins C and A) boost immunity and skin health, which are both vital during the long winter months.
Start tomato seeds in an egg carton and then transfer them to a 5-gallon pot when they are a few inches tall. This helps their roots thrive.
Once you transplant them to larger pots, add a trellis to support them when they’re taller.
Tomatoes need regular fertilizing and careful watering.
Check out these tomato plants in the Grow Kings’ storeroom in Plymouth, MI!
Chili peppers and bell peppers will love your grow tent! In most cases, they won’t thrive without some form of greenhouse (e.g., grow tent) lighting.
They need similar care to that of tomatoes: excellent soil, regular fertilizer and lots of light. Start them in small pots or try the egg carton method. Then transplant 1-3 seedlings to a 12-inch pot. Some varieties may need the support of a trellis.
Many varieties of hot peppers can be grown in small pots.
|Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash|
Carrots need taller pots (at least 12 inches) and exceptional drainage.
Choose an excellent potting mix and moisten it before you plant the seeds, which need to be about 1/4 inch deep. Once they’ve sprouted, thin them till there’s about an inch between each plant.
After you’ve harvested some, replant seeds in their place so you can keep enjoying carrots all year long!
Scallions (Green onions)
Did you know you can plant the scallions you buy at the grocery? As long as they still have the roots attached, you can plant them with just the top of white part showing. Then you can harvest the green part for garnishes and mild seasoning.
Grow from seeds if you want to use the white bulbs for a stronger onion flavor. These are a great choice for indoor gardening because they require less space than regular onions.
Grow beans and peas inside by choosing the bush varieties and offer proper support. Most varieties need full sun, so they could be grouped with your tomatoes and peppers in a grow tent. Bush beans don’t need a trellis or other support.
Beans like it sandy! Mix in about 1/4 sand into your potting soil, and for an extra boost, add another 1/4 compost. The other half would be regular potting soil.
As for peas, snap peas or dwarf peas will do well inside with 6-8 hours of “sunlight” per day. Peas need a trellis, like this net trellis from Grow Kings. Attach it to the side of your grow tent and let those peas climb!
Beans and peas are annuals when planted inside (i.e., after one growing cycle, you’ll need to replant.)
Herbs are in some ways the ideal indoor garden plant, because they pack a lot of flavor into a little pot.
Choose small square pots, rather than round, to maximize space in your grow tent or window sill.
Some herb seeds are specifically designed to be planted indoors, but don’t feel that you have to confine yourself to these, especially if you have a grow tent or extra lighting.
Consider these varieties, as they’re easy to grow and commonly used in western cooking:
Basil, Cilantro, Rosemary, Chives, and Parsley.
This is just the beginning of options for vegetables to grow indoors! Nourish your family with homegrown veggies all through the winter. Harvesting beautiful color and rich nutrients in the dead of winter can make all the difference.
Some plants (like basil) will keep regenerating themselves indefinitely with the right care. Other plants (like carrots) can’t keep growing after you’ve eaten them! The wonderful thing about indoor gardening is that you don’t have to wait another year for a new crop. You can get going right away. It’s fine to use the same potting soil as your plants were growing in before, but mix in about 50% additional new soil.
Many plants require similar care, so you can group them in a grow tent or under a grow light. Once you get going, it’s pretty simple!