Food prices go up almost every year, which makes it incumbent to know how to grow food indoors for a fresh, year round supply of produce. Not all food grows well inside, but there are still many vegetables to grow indoors. Selecting the best edible plants to grow indoors can assure you of organic produce any time that will enhance your table and nutritional profile. Even gardeners with little experience can successfully grow at least a few fresh edibles for the table.
Is it possible to keep growing food after the growing season, and well into winter? It most certainly is possible. Choosing the right plants that tolerate indoor light is a start, but you should also consider the plant’s mature size. Corn grown indoors is not really a reality, but herbs, greens, green onions, and many more plants will develop beautifully. Dwarf and Super-dwarf varieties will often make the best options for larger plants. Consult the seed packets before you begin to ensure enough space and the proper growing conditions.
Tips on Growing Food Indoors
Plants have very specific needs to flower and set fruit. One of the first is temperature. Find a site in the home where temperatures are around 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C.) The next criteria is light. There are few shade-loving edibles. Most plants need 6-8 hours of direct light daily, although some leafy greens can do with less. In the home, walls and eaves prevent a lot of natural light from coming in on plants for that amount of time. You can optimize outdoor light exposure by siting the plants in a western or southern facing window.
A good plant light with a timer is a reasonable investment for home produce growers. Rich, loose soil is another need. After plants are off to a good start, select a time-release food or top dress with manure or compost to deliver needed nutrients.
Starting a Bucket Vegetable Garden
Buckets are relatively inexpensive and readily available. They can often be found for free at restaurants. They make perfect containers for larger plants such as certain types of tomato or pepper. The buckets need to have 4-6 holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. This could make things messy if you’re growing indoors. Place buckets on a tarp, or fit each bucket with a large plate or saucer.
An alternative to buckets might be nursery pots. The container does not have to be expensive, but will need to be large enough for a mature plant. Seedlings can be started in egg cartons, flats, or smaller pots. Start plants with good quality potting soil or seed starter mix. Seedlings may be transplanted to larger containers as they grow.
Best Edible Plants to Grow Indoors
There are many fruit plants that are available for the indoors. Dwarf pomegranate or banana, Meyer lemon, Calamondin orange, avocado, and some smaller variety of figs will provide fruit after a few years. Strawberries are another successful indoor fruit. These plants need closer to 8 hours of light and will need fertilizing annually with special plant foods formulated for the variety. Plants that grow from seed are a more economical way of growing food indoors. Many herbs thrive in a sunny window. Thyme, basil, mint, and chive are good options. Vegetables such as cherry tomatoes, certain peppers, lettuces, small root vegetables like carrots and radishes, and even potatoes will grow well in the right conditions inside. Another way to boost your nutrients is by growing kitchen scraps such as celery or green onion. Sprouting seeds is quite easy and full of vitamins, while microgreens are produced fast and add a delightful flavor to salads and sandwiches.
Here are some ideas for indoor planting in buckets:
- Green onion
- Cherry tomato
- Some hot peppers
- Swiss Chard
- Garlic chives