Even as states start reopening, many people are still avoiding going outside or visiting crowded public spaces unless it's absolutely necessary.
After spending months at home, it's nearly impossible to discount the benefits of being able to grow and produce your own foods, both for health and financial reasons.
When you're only going to the grocery store every few weeks, it's hard to keep fresh fruit and vegetables around. So, what to do?
While baking bread was the hobby du-jour of quarantine, many people are also discovering the joys of bringing plants into their homes, not only to brighten their indoor spaces but also to grow their own vegetables for meals. And you can do that, too.
Quarantine or not, growing your own vegetables at home, with just some sunshine, water and care, is an invaluable skill and part of maintaining a healthy home and lifestyle, with numerous benefits. It makes you more mindful of your consumption and buying habits, it promotes healthier eating habits and it brings a sense of pride and joy to grow vegetables you can then serve at your own table for you, family and friends.
Whether you live in an apartment or a house, these are the easiest vegetables to grow indoors in your own home.
Since you won't be doing your gardening outside, one of the most important things you'll need for growing plants and vegetables indoors are containers and pots! Container vegetable gardening is a great beginner's step to learning about gardening and growing veggies indoors and in an urban environment.
For your pots, you'll want fair-sized containers with drainage holes that will allow excess water to escape so the roots of your plants don't get root rot. You want them to be big enough that the roots of your plants have plenty of space to develop and grow, but exact sizes vary, as you'll see below.
You'll also need good starting and potting soil mixes and fertilizer. There are tons of great options, and your local gardening center will have the best recommendations. You can also try to make your own compost. This handy guide will set you on the right track.
And, of course, you'll need sunshine. Observe your home for a day or so to see what areas get the most light and at what times of the day to determine the best places to put your vegetables. And if you live in a place that doesn't get a lot of natural light, don't despair! You can always use growing lights.
If you don't have access to a garden or outdoor space for growing vegetables indoors, you'll want plants that don't need to grow deep roots systems. Otherwise, the plant can't mature or grow properly and either won't produce veggies or will be stunted.
Below, you'll find our recommendations for the easiest starter vegetables to grow at home, along with instructions for their individual care:
Everyone loves a juicy, plump, perfectly ripe tomato, and with supermarket tomatoes often lacking in flavor, quality or costing too much, tomatoes are a natural, easy choice for indoor gardening.
You can start growing your seedlings in a planting tray or a small container like a can. Fill with good starter soil, and plant the seeds about a quarter-inch deep in the soil, up to three seeds per hole. Cover the seeds with soil and then water until the soil is moist.
Place the pots in an area that receives lots of warm sunlight throughout the day, and water frequently so the soil doesn't dry out. You should see germination (the growth of the seed into a seedling) within five to 10 days.
Once the seedlings are a few inches tall and have started to sprout leaves, carefully transfer to a larger pot with potting soil (six-inch or bigger, depending on whether you want one or two plants). You can remove the seedling from its starter pot/planter by placing your hand over the soil at the base of the plant and gently flipping it. Then, gently loosen up the roots from the soil. Be careful not to break or damage the roots while doing so.
Replant in the new pot, water and return to its sunny spot. Keep in the sunshine for about eight hours a day and well-watered (moist, but not soggy). In about two weeks, add fertilizer.
As the plants get bigger, make sure to keep them pollinated by gently shaking or tapping the main stem and leaves of the plant. You may also need to add a stake so the plant has support as it grows bigger. Once the plant starts producing fruit (60 to 80 days), harvest the tomatoes when they're slightly soft when squeezed and a rich, even color.
Similar to tomatoes, bell peppers require a bit more work and attention than other plants you can simply leave in a warm, sunny place and water frequently, but they're well worth the effort.
Fill a planting tray with loose potting soil and poke a small hole in the center of each module of soil. Using left-over bell pepper seeds (which are better because they retain moisture longer than store-bought and will kick off germination faster), drop one seed into each hole and cover with soil.
Place in a warm spot and keep moist until the seedlings start sprouting and have one or two sets of leaves. Transfer each seedling to its own larger two- or four-inch pot with new soil, place in the sunshine and continue to water well each day.
As the plants grow and flowers emerge, pollinate them by swabbing the pollen from a male flower and brushing it on the female one. You may also need to stake your plants as they get bigger so the stems don't break. As your peppers grow, wait until they're a good, healthy size before harvesting.
Who doesn't love an insanely fresh, delicious salad? Rather than watching your store-bought lettuce wilt and turn red in your vegetable drawer, grow your own for always fresh greens. Salad greens include iceberg and romaine lettuce, arugula and spinach — they grow quickly and easily on their own. You can grow these vegetables using starts (small seedlings), which is the same basic principle, but for now, we'll focus on growing with seeds.
In a large planter box filled with potting soil, use your finger to poke holes in the soil a few inches apart (four inches is optimal). Sprinkle a few of the seeds for whatever salad green you're growing in each hole and then cover. Water the soil, place the planter box in a spot with good sunlight, and keep watered regularly until the soil is moist. Your plants should be big enough to start harvesting in about four to six weeks.
One of the main benefits of growing salad greens is you can harvest the leaves but the plant keeps growing! Once the plant has reached a big, healthy size and the leaves are ready, harvest the outermost leaves for your salads while leaving the internal ones to continue growing. Easy peasy!
Carrots are actually among the easiest vegetables to grow indoors, which may come as a surprise since they can grow to be so long. Not to worry! You can grow regular carrots indoors, no problem!
Even for longer varieties, all you'll need is a 12-inch deep pot or container or eight-inches deep if you're growing a smaller variety. Easy to grow throughout the year, a great source of vitamins and minerals, and with little upkeep required, you'll find growing carrots a breeze.
Fill your pot with potting soil, stopping about an inch from the top of the pot. Water until the soil is moist, poke some hills into the soil a few inches apart, sprinkle in two to three seeds, and then cover with dirt. Place the box in a sunny place so that it gets at least six hours of daylight and keep well-watered (until the topsoil is moist).
The seeds should start to germinate and sprout in about two weeks. Once the carrots are big enough (usually around 70 days), you can remove them by firmly grasping the green leaves and pulling directly upwards. Voila!
Beets are often called a “superfood," and there's a good reason for that. They're packed with nutrients like potassium, magnesium and Vitamin C, they help keep your blood pressure in check and can even help improve your athletic performance. With these and many more health benefits, why wouldn't you want to have a steady supply at home? Their colorful leaves will also liven up any room!
Get a big container (at least 10 inches deep or more) and fill with potting soil that will drain well and is light (beets don't do well in dense, hard-packed soils). The pH level of the soil should also be neutral. Plant individual seeds about a quarter-inch down in the soil with plenty of space between each (beets need plenty of room).
Water well so the soil is moist but not waterlogged, and place in a spot with good sunshine. Beets love sunshine and will soak it up. In about two weeks you should first see seedlings, and you can remove extraneous ones so the big ones have plenty of room. Continue to water and provide sunshine for the next 45 to 60 days, and then your beets should be big enough to harvest!
There's nothing better than fresh herbs to add nuance and flavor to a dish, but constantly having to purchase fresh herbs from the store is a pain. So, grow your own little herb garden!
Some of the top choices for the easiest herbs to grow indoors include oregano, thyme, rosemary, chives, parsley and basil, and the basic principle for them is the same, though exact care may vary by plant. Fill a pot with drainage holes with a nutrient-rich, fast-draining potting soil, and sprinkle in the seeds for whatever herb you're growing.
Cover with soil, place in a spot that will get lots of sunshine, water regularly so that the topsoil is moist but not soaked and fertilize with a liquid fertilizer a few times a month. As the herbs grow, harvest the leaves to use as garnishes, or add to recipes but leave the overall plant be.
There are many more vegetables you can easily grow indoors, but these are some of the classics. Usable for a wide variety of dishes, with great health benefits, and overall very easy and straightforward to tend.
Whether you're a newbie to gardening and growing vegetables indoors or you're a gardening pro looking to bring your love for homegrown plants and vegetables indoors, these easy vegetables to grow in your home are sure to set you off on the right track!