Learning how to grow vegetables indoors is easier than you think! Here are some tips to get you started
By Diane Small
No matter what the season, it’s time to learn how to grow vegetables indoors! It’s way easier than you think, and no matter how tiny your living space is, you can definitely grow something organic and healthy at home.
Don’t believe us? Here’s a beginner’s guide on how to grow vegetables at home to get you started.
How To Grow Vegetables Indoors
1. Get What You Need
You don’t need much to get started growing plants indoors!
First up, when you’re growing veggies inside, you’ll need to know what to plant. You can choose to buy seeds, or if you have a plant nursery nearby, you can look for seedlings that have been growing for a few weeks or months already.
If you’re planting from seed, find a container that’s large enough for the roots of your plant to grow, that also has a drainage hole the bottom. You can DIY your own container by upcycling old plastic tubs, but any pot with a drainage hole will do. Of course, you’ll need to put your container on a dish, saucer, or tray to capture any water that drains out so you don’t ruin the surface where the pot sits.
Be sure your plants are getting enough light. Most vegetables will need at least 4-6 hours of sunlight per day. If your living space is really dark, consider buying a grow-light. They’re not that expensive, and will make a huge difference.
2. Know What You Can Grow
Not all veggies will do well growing inside. Most need the wind and insects to pollinate them, or a lot of space to grow. But these are a few plants that do well indoors:
These easy to care for and don’t require as much sunlight as some other veggies. They also last ages, as you can cut off the tips and use them in cooking – they’ll grow back!
Some, such as basil, will need a lot of light, but others, such as parsley, mint, rosemary, and thyme grow more easily. You can usually even find potted herbs in supermarkets. To make them last longer, replant them in larger pots so they have room to spread out.
When harvesting basil, if you want the plant to last, just remove a few leaves for use. Cut back whole stems if you want a bushier plant that produces more leaves, too. Ideally, Ideally, you’ll want to pinch the stem as close to above the new leaf nodes as possible.
These are pretty easy, too! Try cool-tolerant leafy salad greens like spinach, kale, and arugula (rocket). They’ll grow in as quickly as four weeks in compact spaces. They need about 12 hours of sunlight per day, so be sure they’re in a sunny spot.
Did you know microgreens are packed with 40 times more vitamins and nutrients than fully grown plants? Grow them the same way you would salad greens – just harvest them when they’re just about 2-3 weeks old. Great for sandwiches!
These only take 30 to 40 days from germination to harvest. They won’t need as much light as many other veggies. Just make sure they’re not too crowded so they can grow to full size.
This veggie needs a lot of light! About 14 to 20 hours a day. If you want to grow a lot of tomatoes, greenhouses may be a worthy investment. They will allow you to grow vegetables year-round, no matter where you live, and they come in all sizes, to suit all garden sizes. You can even get a tiny one for a balcony!
It’s important to put a stake in the pot and tie stems to it so the plant can grow upwards. Otherwise, the heavy fruit will cause stems to bend and maybe even break off. Cherry tomatoes grow especially quickly, and the plant will render quite a few fruits.
If you have a spot that gets 14-20 hours of sunlight a day, these will thrive! Keep them at about 70 degrees F. Pot them in a container that’s at least eight inches tall, and allow the soil to dry out between watering.
Look Out For Signs Of Trouble
When you’re learning how to grow vegetables indoors, it’s vital to look for any signs of damage and illness on your plants. Most plants are plagued by some kind of insect or other, or are prone to developing fungus or mildew. The most common issues are:
- powdery mildew
- spider mites
Of course, you won’t want to be spraying pesticide in your home! But don’t worry – there are natural ways to get rid of these pests.
For example, insecticidal soap or dish soap is non toxic and kills whitefly, aphids and spider mites with regular use. To kill these bugs, fill up a spray bottle with 1t dish soap to 500ml water. Whitefly and aphids love tomato plants as well as herbs. Keep your eyes open for tiny white flecks on the leaves. If you see any, get that spray bottle out fast, and be sure you spray under the leaves, where the bugs usually lie.
Another trick is to use a garlic spray. Crush a full head of garlic and steep in 2 cups hot water overnight. Strain out the garlic pieces and put them in your compost. Put the garlic water in a glass or plastic spray bottle along with 1T of dish soap and 1T cayenne pepper. Label and store in the fridge so it doesn’t spoil. Spray the tops and undersides of the leaves to kill bugs.
Alternatively, you can plant garlic next to your other plants. Bugs hate the smell and are more likely to avoid your plants!
For molds and mildews, some say spraying plants with milk works, or you could try diluting 1t neem oil to 500ml water in a spray bottle and attacking the powdery problem with this. Tomatoes are particularly prone to powdery mildew – you’ll see the leaves turn yellow and a bit of dust on the stems. Nip this problem in the bud before it’s out of control!
It may seem a bit complicated at first, but learning how to grow vegetables indoors is fun – and rewarding! Have you ever tried to do it yourself? Let us know in the comments below!