Grow Your Own Groceries With These Foods You Can *Actually* Garden Indoors
Let’s be real here. Inflation is…deflating. And there’s nothing more soul-crushing than a week’s worth of groceries costing upward of $150. I’m no financial expert, but I do know that things really suck right now. The current state of the economy and price gouging have undoubtedly changed our consumption habits: we’re leaning heavily on ‘recession-proof recipes,’ skipping the just-for-fun Target runs (yeah, I’m sad about it too), and concocting the cheapest Starbucks orders possible. You can totally shape those habits right at home.
How? Indoor gardening. Yep, the green thumb life you’ve always dreamed of is within close reach, plus it’s extremely beneficial for saving money right now. It may sound a little granola, but growing your own groceries is made fairly simple with indoor gardening. Read more on the best plants to grow indoors, and helpful tips to get you going on your earthy journey.
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Tips For Indoor Gardening
- Indoor plants are obsessed with direct sun. For most varieties, you’ll have to work around your space’s lack of light with some grow lights. If there’s not tons of direct sun coming into your indoor gardening space, or you don’t have a south facing window, grow lights may be in your future. They’ll ensure your growing plants stay happy and healthy.
- Some plants can be really finicky, so pay close attention for signs of struggle. Look for yellowing and browning on the leaves, wilting, or crisping. If you suspect your plant is choking out on you, try a different lighting situation, placement, and watering routine. Even humidity levels can impact your plants, so monitor how they best respond to your care!
- Seed germination can take a lot of commitment, so if you’re not feeling like becoming a full-time gardener (or just simply don’t have the time and money for it), starting your indoor garden from cuttings/propagations helps expedite the growing process. You can find cuttings and starters at most home improvement stores, or I’m sure your nice green thumb neighbor could even cut one for you from their garden!
- There’s no doubt that indoor gardening is a larger initial investment, but it will pay off over time. You’ll need some equipment to get you started, if you don’t have some already. Grow lights, roomy pots and planters, seeds, and soils are the most basic needs for an indoor garden project.
Vegetables and Herbs You Can Grow Indoors
Romaine lettuce is one of the easiest plants to grow in an indoor garden – and you don’t even need to start from seeds. Just pop the butt of a lettuce head into a shallow dish of water, and place it by your sunniest window. In a few days you’ll see significant growth. This method also works just as well for green onions and celery! You’ll want to replace the plant’s water often throughout the process, so it doesn’t sour. Starting lettuce from seeds is a tad more involved than this method, but if you want to start from scratch, this guide is super helpful.
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If you’re living it up in a micro apartment, microgreens are a great grocery to grow indoors. They don’t take up much space, plus sprouts and microgreens carry massive amounts of nutrients and vitamins for your diet. When it’s so cheap to grow them at home, why pay up to $10 for them at the store? This mason jar hack slays indoor gardening in such a simple way!
To start growing with seeds, all you need is special micro seeds, a shallow planter with drainage, and a soil made for seed starting. Ensure these little guys get 4-6 hours of sun (or grow light) a day, and soon enough you can sprinkle your homegrown microgreens on all the salads and sandwiches!
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The sheer power you feel when you use homegrown herbs in a recipe is indescribable. I used some Thai basil in a recent noodle recipe, and it just hit different. You can grow rosemary, basil, thyme, mint, oregano, and more from your kitchen! Basil is an annual herb that needs more heat and light to thrive. Keep your basil away from windows in the winter, and opt for grow lights instead, to avoid total chill. Perennial herbs like rosemary, thyme, mint, and oregano fare better in the cold, as long as they get some light in. Some herbs grow trailing down, so pull out your hanging planters for some decorative garden flair!
Photo by THIS IS ZUN / PEXELS
Onions, beets, and carrots. Oh my! These are just a few of the root veggies you can grow in your indoor garden. Root vegetables are fairly resistant to the cold, so they grow just fine inside during winter. Since their roots are bigger, they need a lot of water and some biiig pots to live in. For carrots and parsnips, you’re likely looking at a pot up to 12 inches deep! The best part about gardening root vegetables is the leafy tops – they can be used to top salads and garnish healthy dinners, so nothing goes wasted.
Photo by Anna Nekrashevich / PEXELS
Spice things up in your indoor garden with homegrown peppers! There’s a huge range of pepper varieties, but some are easier than others. Peppers under the Capsicum Annuum family are recommended for beginners. This includes the spicy boys: jalapenos, serranos, thai peppers, and cayenne peppers.Indoor peppers thrive under heat treatment during germination. A warming mat like this one helps expedite the 4-14 day process, so you can get to planting them quicker. Once planted, peppers need high levels of light – whether that comes from the actual sun or grow lights is up to you!
Fruits You Can Grow Indoors
@gardeningindoors Replying to @adventure.abigail Hope this was helpful 🌱🍅 #indoorgardentips#cherrytomatoes#growyourownfood#gardentok#growyourownvegetables#indoorgardentok#gardeningindoors#smallspacegardening#indoorgardening#growingtomatoes♬ original sound - gardeningindoors
To grow tomatoes indoors, the seeds need to germinate before anything else. It’ll take around 5-10 days of constant warmth and moisture for them to begin sprouting. Once they’re ready to be potted, tomatoes will need 8 or more hours of sun (or grow light) a day. They’ll also need sizable planters with plenty of plant stakes. Plant stakes provide stability for the vines, and facilitate upward growth as your plants get bigger. Since your plants aren’t living it up outside, you’ll have to pollinate them. All this takes is shaking or tapping the vines on a regular basis. Smaller varieties typically have more success indoors, so that’s a plus if your indoor garden is also crunched for space. Make sure these babies stay fairly warm (70+ degrees F) for best results!
@herbal.ash It takes years for it to actually bear fruit but it’s still such a unique plant to grow! #avocadoplant#planttok#plantlover♬ Natural Emotions - Muspace Lofi
Okay, this indoor gardening hack is a *little bit* of a plant cheat. We hate to break it to you, but it can actually take up to 10 years for avocado trees to produce fruit, AKA an actual avo. But, you can grow a gorgeous (inedible) houseplant from the seed, and marvel in its beauty! First, wash off the seed from your morning avocado toast avo, and peel the skin off. After that, germinate the seed using a moist paper towel inside a plastic bag. After 4-8 weeks, you’ll see sprouts, then you can transfer the seed and suspend it in filtered water for leaves to grow!
Photo by Lum3n / PEXELS
Surprise, surprise. You can also grow apricots indoors, as long as you have a sunny room. It’s recommended to not start from seeds if you’re working indoors. The conditions just aren’t always super favorable, so it’s better to start your fruit from a direct cutting! Self-pollinating trees (like dwarf apricot trees) also take out some extra steps in the process, because you don’t have to facilitate pollination. A neutral soil is non-negotiable for indoor gardening apricots. You can use store bought soil, or easily make your own. Bonus points if you throw a bit of compost in there! Be patient with this tree – it doesn't bear fruit until 3-4 years out, but will look beautiful the whole way through.
Photo by Karoline Grabowska / PEXELS
Known as the easiest citrus to grow indoors, Meyer lemons supplement all your favorite desserts, lemonades, cleaning solutions, and more. It’s honestly a pain to try growing this variety from seeds indoors. The easiest method starts with a 2-3 year old tree. A younger tree is easier to monitor and care for. For these trees, your indoor garden will need 8-12 hours of daily light. They love constant moisture, but this doesn’t necessarily mean constant watering. Infrequent but large amounts of water is the Meyer lemon tree’s BFF! Since this guy isn’t self-pollinating, you have to pollinate the flowers yourself indoors with cotton swabs. It’s not too complicated! Make sure to scoop some citrus tree fertilizer when you’re planting your lemon tree – it’ll eat the nutrients up!
What Do I Need To Get Started?
If you're feeling intimidated by the gardening aisle at your local Lowe's or Home Depot, don't sweat it! Here are some great options to start your very own indoor garden.
Grow Lights for Indoor Gardening
iGrowtek LED Grow Light for Seed Starting ($57)
Planters and Pots for Indoor Gardening
Pri Gardens Upside Down Tomato Planter, 2-Pack ($18)
Seed Starter Soils for Indoor Gardening
Minute Soil Compressed Coco Coir FIber Grow Wafers ($17)
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