As winter starts to take hold, many gardeners dream of getting back outside into the sun. Winter leaves many gardeners wishing for fresh produce of summers past. Rather than sit back and dwell on what you had during the summer, you should start thinking about growing vegetables indoors.
Creating an indoor vegetable garden not only provides you with that fresh produce you are craving year-round, but it also cleans the air and beautifies your home. An indoor vegetable garden isn’t just useful for gardeners who want fresh produce during the colder winter months. Growing vegetables indoors is ideal for people who live in the city or those who don’t have a decent gardening spot in the yard.
You will find that growing vegetables in pots is more straightforward than you thought. One of the greatest things about growing plants in containers is they don’t necessarily take up a lot of room; you make use of how much space you do have, such as windowsills or corner spaces.
Grow Vegetables Indoors Year Round
For many of us, an indoor garden is a way to start the plants we want to take out to the outdoor garden in the spring. For others, it is the only way they can enjoy fresh produce.
No matter the reason when getting started growing vegetables indoors year round, you want to have the best growing experience possible. For the best growing experience, choose the easiest vegetables to grow indoors, and purchase the best supplies from lighting to soil. We are here to help with some useful tips.
A great thing about indoor gardens is that they can take up a little or a lot of space. All types of growing indoors, including tomatoes, can be done on a single windowsill or a small end table.
If you’re going to produce a more extensive garden, you need to set aside a bigger table or bench inside your home just for your plants. Shelves can also be used for indoor gardening, as long as the plants have the necessary amount of light and spacing they need.
Light for Indoor Vegetables
To survive, your plant needs to photosynthesize, and that requires adequate lighting. Without proper lighting, your plant will grow tall, but it will be spindly and relatively bare. For leaves to expand equally and the plant to bear fruit or blossoms, you need to provide enough light.
A south-facing window will provide enough direct sunlight in the spring and summer. A sunny windowsill in the winter probably won’t provide enough light for your plants to survive, so you need to consider purchasing a grow light.
When purchasing a grow light, you need one that provides the same wavelengths of light as the sun, so you can’t just buy a regular light bulb for your plants. Position the grow light close to the plant but far enough away to avoid burning the leaves. Most vegetable plants require 14 to 16 hours of sunlight to produce florigen, which controls the plants budding and flowering abilities.
To determine if your plant is getting the required lighting, inspect the leaves of the plant. If the leaves are smaller than usual, lighter in color, or the stems are thin, increase how much light your plant is getting. Too much lighting prevents blooming as light destroys florigen.
Choosing Your Grow Light
There are several different kinds of artificial lights to choose from, including incandescent, fluorescent, compact fluorescent, and high-density discharge. Incandescent should only be used on houseplants, not vegetable plants. Fluorescent lights are great for herbs but don’t put off enough light for plants that bud or flower.
For your indoor vegetable garden, opt for either compact fluorescent or a high-density discharge bulb as they are bright and provide enough light that is compatible with all kinds of plants. High-intensity discharge bulbs are more expensive but are quite efficient.
Temperature and Humidity for Growing Vegetables Indoors
For the best growing conditions, indoor temperatures should remain between 65-75°F, although you can go up or down 10 degrees without seeing too much difference. Temperatures that are too hot result in small plants, while temperatures that are too cold result in yellow leaves that fall off. Pests are also affected by humidity levels; learn about bug spray for plants to keep them at bay.
Lack of humidity is a big problem for indoor vegetable gardens. Winter is often drier than summer, and running the furnace adds to the dryness. For low humidity areas, mist your plants daily to increase humidity.
You can also put a small dish of water next to your plants and keep your plants as close together as possible. Humidifiers also increase the moisture in your house and provide benefits for more than just your plants.
You cannot just plant your indoor vegetable garden in pots with outdoor soil. Bringing ground in from outside increases the chances of you bringing in weed seeds or even pests, plus the soil is too heavy.
Shop for dirt made for indoor plants. Potting soil will stay loose inside of pots and offers excellent drainage. You can still end up with pests like gnats, fruit flies, etc. when buying bagged potting mix. If you do end up with gnats or other flying pests, learn about our natural ways to get rid of gnats.
The Easiest Vegetables to Grow Indoors
Growing vegetables, whether indoors or out, is not a difficult task if you give your plants the care they need. Pay attention to what kind of requirements they have for successful growing conditions and you will have delicious home-grown veggies in no time.
If you are into home food preservation, choose to grow vegetables for canning and freezing or even pickling so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor year-round.
Carrots are easy vegetables to grow indoors. When you choose the container for carrots, make sure to pick one that allows you to plant the seeds deep enough for the variety of carrot you are growing. You will also need to make sure the container is long enough or wide enough to plant rows.
Carrots are relatively easy to grow, but you do need to weed out some as they begin to sprout. Carrots need ample room to grow inside of containers, and by weeding them out, you are giving the developing ones the space they need to expand.
When you harvest your carrots, take advantage of the abundance and learn about canning fresh carrots for use later. There’s nothing quite like growing and preserving your own produce.
Beets – Easy to Grow Indoors
One of the best things about beets is you can eat the plant and the root. Choose a container that offers excellent drainage and is at least 17 inches deep. Use sandy soil with a neutral pH level and add 16 inches to the pot. Plant seeds a ¼ inch deep and about one foot apart, so they have ample room to grow correctly.
Beets need an area with bright light and cooler temperatures. Only water the beets when the soil becomes dry. If sunlight is limited, rotate the container regularly to provide uniform light.
Once beets are about the size of a baseball, begin harvesting them. If you have a particularly large crop, learn how to store beets so that you can eat them later. Options are available for canning, freezing, and pickling. When picking, twist off the foliage and leave the taproot to continue growing.
Onions are one of the harder vegetables to grow year-round, but if you are determined, it is possible. Plant onions in a container that is deep enough for the bulbs to form and offers excellent drainage. Place in an area of your home that has plenty of bright light and use artificial lighting in the fall and winter.
Choose an onion type that has small heads, as they will have limited room to grow. Plant onions about an inch deep in the soil and moisten the soil slightly. If you plan to harvest them as green onions, they can be touching. If you want to collect them after they have matured, place two inches apart.
One thing to know about growing garlic indoors is you won’t get the garlic cloves, but instead, you will end up with garlic greens or garlic sprouts. Use these for seasoning or garnish, but beware the flavor is not as intense as fresh garlic. To plant, add three to four cloves to a pot and place on a sunny window ledge.
In about ten days you will be able to snip the greens to use. If you want new garlic sprouts, plant new bulbs each time you harvest.
Full heads of garlic must be grown outdoors because the cold winter causes them to be dormant. Cold temperatures are needed to create the flower and head.
Indoor Vegetables – Tomatoes
Tomatoes won’t grow in cold weather, but when you pick the right variety, such as cherry tomatoes, you can have some success when growing them indoors. As indoor plants, tomatoes will not produce as much fruit as the summer varieties. When growing them indoors, place them where they receive full sun and temperatures of at least 65°F.
Plant the seeds in six-inch pots about a ¼ inch deep. Keep the soil moist and in a warmer location to germinate. To provide a steady supply of tomatoes through the winter and spring, start a new pot every two weeks. Place the pot by a southern window that is absent of drafts.
You can grow several different varieties of lettuce indoors, including leafy greens that are ideal for salad greens. Heads of lettuce, such as iceberg or Romaine, are also relatively easy to grow indoors. When planting indoors, use a plastic pot, as clay pots dry out the soil faster. The advantage of growing lettuce is that they are quick growing vegetables and produce crop after crop with very little effort.
Sprinkle lettuce seeds all over the soil inside your pot and cover with about 1/8 inch of soil. Grow lettuce in moist soil, spray soil every morning, and every time it looks dry. Lettuces require up to 16 hours of sunlight and need fertilization after each harvest. Enjoy home-grown lettuce all year when growing it in the house.
If you are growing vegetables in shade, look into growing spinach, as it’s one of the few vegetables that can handle a lot of shade. Spinach can easily be grown in containers in your living room, as long as the pots have appropriate drainage holes.
A pot or a seed tray is recommended for starting seeds. If using a seed tray, wait until three real leaves appear before transplanting to a new container.
Pots for spinach don’t need to be very deep, about six to eight inches, but they do need to be wide if growing more than one plant. Each plant needs three to five inches of space, depending on how large you want the leaves.
Broccoli – Easy Indoor Growing
Broccoli is a quickly maturing vegetable that can be grown indoors in both the spring and fall. When growing, place the seeds in light, well-draining soil in a big container.
For the best results, start the seeds in a seedling tray and transplant once five true leaves appear. Sow seeds a ¼ inch deep and three inches apart. Moisten the soil every day with a fine misting spray bottle.
The spray bottle prevents the seeds from moving around and ensures the soil stays evenly moist until seeds begin to germinate. Broccoli can only be grown indoors if it receives six hours of direct sunlight a day so place the container near a sunny window or place a grow light overhead.
Broccoli plants need three feet of space for large heads so plant these vegetables for large pots in containers that allow this much space. Smaller heads may be harvested twice in one growing season. Broccoli can be grown hydroponically instead of in soil.
Like broccoli, cauliflower is best grown in cooler temperatures as heat damages the fragile plant. This vegetable is harder to grow as it requires precise temperature ranges and has come pretty strict soil requirements.
Seeds should be kept as close to 45°F as possible to allow for the best chance of germination. Transfer seeds to 8-inch deep containers and keep them at least 18 inches apart.
Transplant cauliflower about six weeks after you have sown the seeds. Plants will have at least four, good leaves. Temperature for growing cauliflower needs to be between 65 and 75°F and keep the soil moist consistently.
Pick the plant 120 days after planting. In the right conditions, cauliflower can be grown all year long; no more worrying about only being able to pick in the spring and fall.
If you want to grow potatoes indoors, you need a 2.5-gallon container. Before you can plant them indoors, you need to place them in natural light to get them to sprout. After sprouting, put the eyes up on top of a few inches of soil inside the pot.
Add enough soil to cover the potatoes and water. Once the plant grows, add more soil to hill the potatoes. Harvest them when the plant begins turning yellow.
You must chit potatoes to grow them successfully indoors. Chitting is finding one eye that has the most promise. Place it face up in an egg carton and put it on a windowsill.
Over the next few weeks, your potato will begin to sprout. After it sprouts, it is ready for planting.
Homegrown Vegetables – Mushrooms
Mushrooms are one of the best vegetables to grow indoors because they don’t require any light. The three most natural mushrooms to grow at home are shiitake, white button, and oyster. The difference in growing conditions is the substrate used.
To begin growing mushrooms you must first purchase mushroom spawn. Mushrooms grow best when you sterilize and heat the substrate they are growing in. Place your container in a cool and dark location, such as your basement.
In two weeks, you should see a layer of white fuzz. Keep the substrate cool and moist and in temperatures below 70°F. Pick mushrooms when the caps separate from the stems.
If you are lucky enough to have an abundance of mushrooms, preserve them for later use. The best way to freeze mushrooms is to lay them on a cookie sheet and put them in a freezer. After they freeze, put them in freezer bags or another airtight container with a label noting the freeze date.
The work required to grow bell peppers indoors is the same amount of work for growing them outdoors. We enjoy canning bell peppers we grow in two large buckets in our southern windows. The plants need a warm and moist environment, which is the trickiest part of growing these vegetables.
To speed up the germination process, soak bell pepper seeds in a cup of water for up to eight hours. Soaking breaks down the hard coating on the seeds.
Seeds should be started in a seed tray and transplanted when they have two fully grown leaves, not just two leaves that are beginning to grow. How big a pot you need depends on how many plants you plan to keep in a single container.
If planting more than one in a pot, keep them two inches apart. The temperature should be between 70 to 80°F, so placing the container in a sunny windowsill should suffice.
Growing vegetables in pots is easy as long as you choose the right kind of seed. With green beans, select a bush seed as they grow smaller and work better inside long and narrow containers. Green beans need plenty of sunlight, so place them in a sunroom or by a window that receives six hours of sun a day.
Use a garden soil that has compost has been worked or purchase compost-enriched dirt and add some sand to create an organically fertile sandy soil. Plant seeds in the late spring about 1 ½ inch deep and four inches apart. Stakes will need to be added by each seed and placed one-foot into the containers.
Chard requires full sun, so make sure you have an area inside that receives sunlight all day. Plant the seeds in a container that is at least 8 inches wide.
Before planting, soak seeds in warm water for about 24 hours to help speed up germination. Seeds should be planted ½ inch deep and three inches apart.
Inspect your seeds every couple of days. If you notice two sprouts appearing from one seed, cut back the weaker shoot for the best growth.
As the plant begins to mature, pick off the outer leaves to create room for the plant to continue growing. Water plants as necessary, so the soil stays moist.
If you wish to grow herbs indoors, you need to pick the right ones. When planning your herb garden, choose ones that you know will thrive indoors, such as basil, mint, rosemary, thyme, etc.
Your indoor herb garden can start from seed or cuttings. Seeds are easier and faster to use compared to cuttings.
Herbs can be planted in any container as long as it offers excellent drainage and is large enough for the plant to fit once fully mature. You need to find a spot that provides at least six hours of sunlight a day.
Avoid placing your garden in the center of the room or by a northern facing window instead place by the brightest window in the house. Soil should be kept moist, but not soggy; wilted or yellowed leaves signal too much water.
To successfully grow sprouts indoors, you need a Mason jar, breathable cloth, seeds, a rubber band or canning lid, and a dish. Soak seeds in a Mason jar for at least eight hours.
Cover the jar with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. Drain the water and then refill and drain again to rinse seeds.
Place the Mason jar away from direct sunlight and placed on an angle inside a dish. Twice a day refill jar with water to rinse the seeds.
Always make sure to drain off the water and place the jar back inside the dish on an angle. Sprouts should be ready within five to seven days.
When it comes to growing peas indoors, space and lighting conditions are your only limitations. Sow the peas directly as instructed on the package. Keep peas under grow lights for up to ten hours a day.
They can also be grown in a windowsill that receives sun up to eight hours a day — water plants to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Peas require a trellis as the vines grow. The plants should last for several months and should be harvested every day once you start seeing pea pods. To keep a steady supply of peas indoors, start a new batch of seeds three months after you planted your first batch.
Thank you for reading about how to grow vegetables indoors. If you found our growing tips useful, please take a minute to share our indoor gardening tips on Facebook and Pinterest with others.