How to Start an Indoor Vegetable Garden

By Mali Anderson in Thinking Sustainably

If you have limited outdoor space or live in an area with uncooperative weather, you should know that growing fresh food is still a possibility. Many apartment dwellers and individuals looking to expand their growing season can enjoy homegrown vegetables, fruits, and herbs with the help of an indoor vegetable garden.

The resources you need to grow an indoor garden are quite simple: light (sunlight is often the most convenient), plants, containers, soil, water, and nutrients. You also need to carve out some space in your home, so your plants will have room to thrive.

Here's some guidance to help you get started today!

Finding Room for Your Garden

Since plants love their sunlight, it's common to house them on a windowsill or in an area near a window. Smaller pots lined up on windowsills and kitchen countertops are the perfect size for microgreens and herbs. You can also use bigger pots to give your plants more opportunities to grow roots, but you'll need to assess if you have enough floor space for that.

Windowsills, countertops, and the floor are certainly not the only option though. There are many other ways to green your home with edible plants.

One innovative solution is a vertical vegetable garden. You may even have the makings for one on hand. Here are some methods for using the vertical space in your home:

  • Repurpose a wood ladder.
  • Use macrame planter holders.
  • Stack crates.
  • Hang plant baskets.

Windows with southern sun exposure are ideal for growing plants indoors. So, if your apartment has one or two, consider setting up shop there. East- or west-facing windows are the next best options, but there are also plenty of artificial lighting options if, for example, you live in a basement and know your garden won't be able to get the light it needs.

man removes transplant plant from pot

Picking Your Plants

When choosing good growing candidates for your indoor garden, consider the space you have and the time you want to spend nurturing your plants. Try starting with one or two plants, then move up to four or five (or more!) as your gardening confidence builds.

Here are some good starters to consider:

  • Microgreens
  • Spinach
  • Scallions
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Herbs (such as basil, rosemary, cilantro, thyme, and oregano)

Pay attention to your plants over time and adjust your techniques based on what seems to be working and what isn't. For example, the temperature in your home is important for healthy growth. If you set your garden up near a window that you later discover is drafty, you may need to move some of your plants to a warmer spot.

Starting and Maintaining Your Garden

While many gardeners find success starting from seeds, it can also be helpful to purchase plants that have already started growing in small pots—also known as transplants. Then, you can choose pots (with drainage holes) for your transplants that will give them room to grow. A tray underneath can catch water, keeping your plants watered and your countertops or windowsills dry.

How long you'll have to wait for fresh greens and herbs to grow will depend entirely on whether you started from seeds or transplants. If you opted to begin your indoor vegetable garden with small plants, you can probably begin harvesting leaves as soon as your garden is in place. Simply snip off growth from the outside to allow new inner leaves to grow.

To keep your garden healthy and productive throughout the year, fertilize your plans monthly. And when needed, refresh your garden with new plants.

Thai basil plant growing in the window.

Creating and maintaining an indoor garden can be a fun alternative to an outdoor garden. But it has other benefits, too. According to the Environmental Working Group, produce consumed at its peak is best for your health—and you'll definitely know when it's time to harvest when you're looking at your plants every day. Plus, homegrown produce is pesticide-free, which is an added bonus.

Vegetable plants and potted herbs will also brighten your home while they grow. Then, they'll nourish your body when it's time to harvest. Visit your local garden center to explore your options for transplants, seeds, and any other supplies you may need.

Are you ready to make more sustainable choices for your home? Explore more ideas on the Thinking Sustainably board from @tomsofmaine on Pinterest.

Image Source: Pexels | Pexels | Pexels

The views and opinions expressed in any guest post featured on our site are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of Tom's of Maine.

Why It's Good

Indoor gardens are a beautiful and entertaining way to green up your home and have fresh produce on hand. You can cultivate your green thumb while treating your body to peak flavors and optimal nutrition!