One of the benefits of growing your own vegetables is that you are assured of their quality. You also get to harvest and consume them at their peak when they are fresh and have the highest nutrient quality.
You can grow a wide range of vegetables indoors through the year without a greenhouse. While some gardeners prefer to start their seeds indoors and then transfer them outside for full growth, it is possible to grow some vegetables to maturity indoors.
You can start growing plants in any season and harvest in a season. This ensures an adequate supply of your favorite vegetables throughout the year. However, planting vegetables indoors requires proper planning and care.
Below is a beginner’s guide for growing vegetables indoors. This article will discuss the various types of vegetables you can grow indoors, the required growing supplies, and how to set up your indoor vegetable garden.
Types of Vegetables You Can Grow Indoors
When deciding which vegetables to grow indoors, consider the available space, conditions for growth, and amount of time required to grow a specific vegetable. Vegetables that flower and produce fruits such as tomatoes require a significant amount of space and take a longer time to mature.
On the other hand, leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach require only limited space and grow within 4-6 weeks. Root vegetables such as carrots need to be planted in a tall pot or container to provide adequate space for the roots to develop.
Below is a list of some vegetables that you can grow indoors:
- Swiss chard
- Brussel sprouts
How to Put Together Your Indoor Vegetable Garden
Once you’ve decided which vegetables to plant, the next step is to set up your indoor garden. To do so, determine the necessary conditions for the growth of the vegetables, gather your growing supplies, prepare the potting mix, and plant your vegetables.
Indoor Vegetable Gardening Growing Supplies
When planning your indoor garden, consider the growth factors you will need for best results including light, temperature, humidity, air circulation, growing medium, and growing containers.
Lighting and Temperature
Lighting and temperature requirements for most vegetables can be categorized as follows:
- Low to moderate light – 59 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12 hours a day. Most vegetables fall into this category.
- Moderate to high light – 68 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 to 16 hours a day. An herb garden requires moderate to high light and temperatures.
- High light – 68 degrees Fahrenheit for 14- 20 hours per day. Flowering and fruiting vegetables like tomatoes and pepper require lighting conditions that mimic full sun exposure.
Vegetables that require low to moderate light will do well with the natural light coming into the room through windows. You will need an artificial grow light for vegetables that require medium to full light or during the winter season when there is less sunlight.
Use a fluorescent grow light for quick-growing vegetables and seeds that do not require high temperatures. Use a grow light for vegetables that require above-moderate temperatures such as tomatoes and cucumbers.
When setting up your indoor vegetable garden, it is important to use a sterile potting mix instead of regular garden soil. A sterile potting mix prevents the transmission of pests and diseases to your vegetables.
If you are starting your vegetables as seeds, plant them in a seed starting mix. Once the seeds have developed into seedlings, transfer them into organic potting soil. You may need to add manure or fertilizer or both during planting at different stages of growth.
You can use flower pots or window boxes. The size of the growing container will depend on the type of vegetable. Root vegetables such as carrots require planting in tall pots or containers to provide adequate room for the roots to develop.
Radishes and greens have shallow roots and do not require deep soil. Your containers should have drainage holes for all types of vegetables to ensure the soils are well-drained and aerated.
Humidity and Water
You will need water supplies such as watering cans and spray bottles. If the water supply to your house is predominantly hard water, you may need to use distilled water for irrigation.
When growing vegetables in an enclosed area where the humidity level is high, you will need a fan to promote proper air circulation and pollination. An electric oscillating fan is a good option.
Care and Maintenance
Once you’ve planted your vegetables, they will require consistent care and maintenance. Check up on the plants daily to ensure that you’re maintaining the right conditions at different stages of growth. Inspect the lights and fan, check the moisture level in the soil, and look out for any signs of pests or diseases.
The recommended watering frequency varies for different types of vegetables. Vegetables such as tomatoes may need help with pollination. Use the tip of your finger to transfer pollen from one flower to another.
Fertilize as often as required for a given type of vegetable. For instance, leafy greens are required to be fertilized monthly while fruiting vegetables need to be fertilized every two weeks. If you are keen on growing organic vegetables, apply natural liquid fertilizers only e.g. liquid fish emulsion fertilizer. Follow the specific instructions provided on the product’s packaging when applying the fertilizer.
Maturity timelines vary from one vegetable to another. Do your research to have a sense of the expected timeline for the specific type of vegetables you have in your indoor vegetable garden. The vegetables may be ready for harvesting a few days or a week earlier or later than the stipulated timeline. Frequently harvest vegetables such as zucchini, kale, and spinach. The more you harvest them the larger the overall yield.
Handle the vegetables with care and use the proper tools for harvesting. For example, use a sharp knife or pruning shears to harvest vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Use a garden fork to carefully uproot carrots, radishes, and beets.
Tips for Growing Vegetables Indoors
- Decide on the type of vegetables to grow depending on the conditions you’re able to provide. Then, carefully research the specific conditions for the type of vegetables you’re interested in growing and narrow down your options to those you know you can care for. Keep in mind that you can grow different types of vegetables indoors at the same time.
- If growing more than one type of vegetable indoors, organize them according to their light needs, maturity timeline, and size. For example, put leafy greens together and root vegetables together.
- Factor in the season of the year. While indoor gardening is something you can enjoy all year, different seasons require different supplies. For example, you may not need artificial lighting during summer, but you will need a fan to facilitate air circulation. In the winter, you will need artificial lighting that is preferably warm.
- Take pets into consideration. Pets might nibble on the leaves and stems of your plants or dig out the vegetables from the pots. If you have pets, place your containers at a higher level or place a barrier around the vegetable garden area.
- Start with vegetables that are easier to plant and maintain if you are a beginner at indoor gardening. For example, plants that require moderate light and grow in a few weeks such as kale, spinach, arugula, etc. You may either start with seeds or seedlings depending on your level of expertise.
Growing vegetables indoors is easy. With a clear understanding of the required conditions for growing specific vegetables and the right indoor gardening supplies, you are assured of a consistent supply of fresh vegetables throughout the year. If you’re setting up an indoor garden for the first time, start with easy-to-grow vegetables and eventually try out other types that are more challenging to grow.