Whether you live in an area that’s not conducive to an outdoor garden or don’t have access to enough outdoor space, you can produce your own food with an indoor vegetable & herb garden.
Drainage is key when it comes to indoor gardening. Purchase pots with drainage holes (or drill your own) and be sure to place a shallow drainage container underneath each plant to protect floors, shelves, or window sills if you aren’t using a greenhouse. Be sure to re-pot every year, as roots can sometimes grow through the drainage holes or become root-bound.
Choose well-draining potting soil. It can be purchased at a local garden center or you can mix perlite into any regular potting soil to increase its porosity.
Most plants suited for an indoor garden will do well in 65°F–75°F. Temperatures can rise very quickly in a greenhouse so make sure it has proper ventilation and/or a cooling system.
Most vegetable plants need a significant amount of light every day. Fruiting vegetables need at least eight hours, root vegetables and culinary herbs need six hours and leafy vegetables need four hours per day. If you are growing them in the home place the plants near windows and supplement your natural light with grow lights if necessary. Vegetables in a greenhouse may also need supplemental lighting, especially if they are grown during the late fall or winter.
Basil is a remarkably easy herb to grow—indoors or out—and does extremely well in a greenhouse or window box. It needs around six hours of natural sunlight per day to stay healthy and flourishing. Water this basil regularly and use a bit of fertilizer once a month. Basil grows so well indoors that you may want to keep an eye on it—if it starts to overtake other herbs in the growing area, it can be easily split and re-potted. Basil plants also actually act as natural air fresheners. Just run your hand through the leaves and enjoy the delightfully sweet, peppery smell.
Rosemary is slightly trickier than basil to grow indoors, but it’s absolutely doable with the right planning and execution. First, because it needs quite a bit of space and has very particular watering needs give rosemary its own pot and make sure it has a lot of light. It loves a lot of sunlight (around four to six hours are necessary, but more is fine too). When choosing a pot, make sure to leave enough room for the roots. If your plant is six inches high, leave space for six inches of roots.
Rosemary is what some gardeners call an upside-down plant—it absorbs its moisture through its foliage, not its roots. To water it, mist the entire plant one to two times a week, and water it normally (the roots need some moisture) once every two weeks. Once rosemary has grown to its maximum height (as soon as the leaves are as tall as the pot is deep), re-pot it or prune the roots. Rosemary roots, if left alone, can outgrow their pot and fail to absorb proper nutrients.
Green onions or scallions are incredibly easy to grow indoors. Grab a bunch from the produce section of the grocery store, chop off their delicious green tops and use them in a stir fry, and simply plant the little white bulbs and attached roots in a well-draining pot.
To get a nice yield, give them a good amount of space. Each onion needs about two inches of open surrounding soil and will grow best in pots that are at least six inches deep. They need about six hours of sunlight a day. Keep them moist and they’ll be ready for harvest in a few weeks.
Carrots can be grown more easily indoors in a container than an outdoor garden because growing them indoors gives you more control over moisture and sun exposure. If you want to grow a smaller variety, start with a pot that’s around eight inches deep. If you want to grow full-sized carrots, make sure your pot is at least 12 inches deep. Carrots need at least six hours of full light.
Don’t worry about spacing them out evenly, simply sprinkle seeds onto moist potting soil and wait for them to germinate. Once they do, clip out the extra seedlings until each has about an inch of surrounding space. When the seedlings are around three inches tall, start fertilizing them every two weeks and they’ll be ready to harvest in about 75 days.
Fig trees will take up to two years to yield any fruit so they aren’t for the indoor gardener looking for immediate results. This may seem like a lot of time, but fig trees are actually some of the fastest fruiting trees and even non-fruiting fig varieties make lovely ornamental trees.
Pick a fig tree and a five to ten gallon container which will give the tree’s roots plenty of room to grow. Fig trees can grow up to 20 feet tall, but if they are pruned won’t grow much larger than four to five feet tall when potted in a container. Unlike the other herbs and vegetables on this list, fig trees don’t need direct sunlight. They do need to receive indirect light, but don’t necessarily need the sunniest real estate. Watering once a week is sufficient.
Some background information for this article was supplied by HouseMethod.com.