With many of us having been in lockdown in small spaces without vegetable patches or even gardens, we’ve been getting more and more creative with what can be grown indoors, on windowsills or even in small pots or hanging baskets. Now more than ever we want to be able to eat sustainably and healthily at home.
Thankfully, there are a number of great vegetables and herbs that can be grown indoors; needing just a little light and water in order to survive and thrive.
We’ve created a list of our favourite foods that can be grown indoors so you can nurture your own inside garden packed with nutritious fruits and veg.
Why Grow Vegetables and Herbs At Home?
There are so many benefits from growing your own food at home that it’s difficult to know where to start!
First off, everything tastes better when it’s home-grown and freshly picked (or at least we think so!). Knowing exactly what has gone into your own fruits and vegetables (i.e. nothing but water, light and love) makes the taste even sweeter as you know you’re not putting any harmful chemicals into your body.
Second, gardening is good for the mind, body and soul. Not only is eating a plant-based diet said to help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 32%, but spending time tending to plants and picking your own is thought to be good for your mental wellbeing in terms of lower anxiety levels, increased attentiveness and raised job satisfaction too.
And last but by no means least, as an RHS article on gardening for wellbeing states: “It’s also worth noting that an important by-product of the ‘grow your own’ phenomenon is a reduction in plastic packaging and food waste”, which can never be a bad thing in our books.
So, without further ado, here are some of our top fruits, vegetables and herbs that can be grown at home without a garden:
Radishes can easily be grown at home as they only take up a small amount of room and take a relatively short space of time (4-6 weeks) from seed to harvest. Radishes can be planted in containers a few inches deep and placed on windowsills or even just your kitchen table. You can even use old soup and yoghurt pots if you don’t have any official plant pots, so there’s no excuse not to get started.
Spouting has become a popular way of getting rich nutrients and antioxidants into your diet and is an easily grow-your-own method that anyone can enjoy. You don’t even have to have plant pots to start sprouting, as sprouts can be grown in mason jars or even bowls. Lentil and horsegram sprouts are a good source of protein and alfalfa seeds help you to up your intake of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Iron, Zinc and Magnesium.
Lettuce leaves and rocket are great grow-at-home vegetables as you can simply pick as many leaves as you need at the time, allowing the others to continue growing without running the risk of wasting what you don’t use. Most leafy lettuce varieties only need to be planted to a depth of around 4-5 inches, so don’t take up much space, and will allow for multiple yields throughout the growing season.
Chilli peppers are a bit pickier when it comes to their growing location (as they like it sunny and warm) but can still be a good option for those who want to try a range of different plants to see what works. You’ll want to place your pepper plant in full sun with plenty of drainages, allowing them to dry out fully between watering.
There’s nothing more British than strawberries in summer and you might be surprised to learn that these flavoursome fruits can be grown at home. Of course, as you won’t have the space of a pick-your-own farm you’ll be producing smaller and fewer strawberries, but this doesn’t make the process any less sweet! Find yourself a ‘day-neutral strawberry plant’ that are happy to grow in hanging baskets (approx 12-15 inches deep) and hang them out in spring to allow pollinators access to the flowers.
Tomatoes are another summer favourite and there’s nothing quite like picking a fresh, juicy tomato from your own plant to add to your salad. There are loads of different varieties that can be grown in pots at home but Black Cherry tomato plants are a particularly good choice.Plus, many cherry tomatoes brought in supermarkets come in single-use plastic packaging so you’re doing yourself and the planet a favour.
As potatoes like to be buried deep into the soil you might not think these can be grown indoors, but if you have space for a large pot or planter, anything is possible! You can start potatoes off from seed or even try to give growing a go from old sprouting scraps. Potatoes do take up quite a bit of room when they get going, but they’d love a large grow-bag placed next to a French window if you have one.
Kale is another vegetable that takes up quite a bit of space but as you can harvest the outer leaves time and time again, it’s a good crop to grow indoors. Kale is really versatile and just a few leaves stirred through a stew or made into kale crisps will help you reap the benefits of this verdant vegetable. Detoxification, healthy skin and lower cholesterol are just a few things you can expect from a diet rich in kale.
Spring onions or scallions are a wonderful option for novice gardeners as they can easily be grown from seed creating small bunches of fresh salad onions in spring and summer. You can even try growing spring onions from scraps simply by trimming off the root of a spring onion you already have and placing it in water. In just a few days you’ll see the fresh greens start to sprout and you can use them as light chive-like alliums or wait until they grow into a full spring onion.
Mushrooms grow from spawn so aren’t something you’ll pick up in a seed packet from the store, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find they are easier to grow than you might think. Mushrooms like to be kept continuously damp and thrive in special mushroom compost that can be purchased online or from garden centres. To make life even easier you can buy specialist kits to help you grow black and white oyster mushroom indoors.
Garlic is another allium which can be grown at home by simply placing sprouting cloves (preferably organic – some supermarket bulbs have been bred or treated not to sprout) around 2-3 inches apart in a 12-inch pot. Cover with soil and then water regularly (allowing plenty of drainages). After a few weeks you will have garlic greens you can harvest to put into salads and pestos and then after around 10 months, you will have full bulbs which you can cure and enjoy.
Swiss Chard is a bright, fresh vegetable that will happily grow indoors, with the rainbow colours adding splashes of pink, red and orange to your inside garden display. While the leaves of indoor chard will be notably smaller than those grown outdoors, you can harvest them again and again throughout the season making them more than worth the effort. Chard is also an excellent source of vitamins (A, B6, C, E and K to name a few) and minerals and is a good course of dietary fibre.
Similarly to lettuce and chard, spinach leaves grow well indoors and as they are a vegetable that can be used in everything from soups and salads to stews and smoothies, they’re a great versatile option. Spinach is packed full of nutrients and is good source of protein, phosphorus and potassium too, so you can enjoy both the taste and the health benefits!
Last but not least are, of course, herbs. There are so many different herbs that can be grown at home and they are an ideal place to start if you’re a beginner gardener wanting to try out some new skills. Mint, basil, coriander, rosemary and thyme are all wonderful herbs that add flavour to your dishes and fragrance to your room and can easily be grown on a windowsill. Try to allow the herbs space to grow into their pots, and keep them well-watered, warm and bright.
So, there you have it, 14 different food you can grow at home, indoors. Combine these tasty, home-grown crops with an array of air-purifying houseplants and you’ll have a lush green interior that will bring you both health benefits and happiness!
What plants have you been growing at home? Which do you find easiest to grow and which ones taste the best? Let us know in the comments below!