Gardening

Guide to Indoor Vegetable Gardening

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Indoor Vegetable Gardening: growing tomatoes indoors
Shutterstock.com/Sveta Savinova

Do you adore fresh veggies but lack outdoor growing space? Do you dream of flavorful, fresh tomatoes in December? If you love homegrown vegetables and herbs, here’s something you should know: You can grow them year-round inside. With a little planning, the right tools, and a few helpful tips, you’ll soon be enjoying culinary creations from your own indoor vegetable garden—and your space will look lush and lovely, too.

9 Tips for Indoor Vegetable Gardening

What to Grow in Your Indoor Vegetable Garden

Given the right care (see below!), these edible plants will grow beautifully indoors:

  • Lettuce. This veggie grows quickly and easily, even in low light. Choose a leaf-lettuce variety for continual harvests, like Sandy Oakleaf Lettuce, part of the Harvest Select Series available exclusively at The Home Depot, or Mini Romaine Bronze Lettuce, part of the Foodie Fresh line available at Lowe’s. 
  • Tomatoes. The key here is to pick a dwarf type that’s bred for container growing. Choose a variety like Little Sicily Compact Slicing Tomato, part of the Harvest Select series—it will only grow 18 to 24 inches tall.
  • Peppers. For an easy-to-grow, compact sweet pepper variety that performs well in containers, try Snackabelle Red Pepper, part of the Foodie Fresh series. For pretty peppers that pack a punch, try Hot Burrito Pepper, part of the Harvest Select line.
  • Chives. While it’s hard to grow onions indoors, chives offer the perfect garlic or onion flavoring for many meals and grow nicely in pots.
  • Spinach or Swiss chard. Both of these leafy greens are super easy to grow indoors and will give you a great dose of nutrients in your quiches, casseroles, or stir-fries.
  • Kale. This leafy green prefers cooler temperatures and doesn’t need a lot of light. For a sweeter-than-usual variety that looks lovely indoors and tastes great in salads, try Purple Kale, part of the Foodie Fresh series.
  • Radishes, beets, and carrots. For any root vegetable grown in a container, choose a deep pot that allows the roots to form fully. For a petite beet variety, try Better Than Schrute’s Baby Beets, part of the Foodie Fresh line. For adorable baby carrots, try Crispy Crunch Baby Carrots, also part of Foodie Fresh.
  • Microgreens. These usually include a mix of greens and herbs, such as beets, radishes, kale, Swiss chard, basil, and arugula. Grow them in a shallow container and harvest them as seedlings.
  • Basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, and rosemary. Herbs are among the easiest edible plants to grow indoors. Mint, cilantro, and parsley do fine in low light, while basil and rosemary need bright light.
Indoor Vegetable Gardening: growing peppers indoors
Shutterstock.com/Kosobu

How to Grow Vegetables Indoors

Just like plants grown outdoors, indoor vegetables (and herbs) need the right care to grow well and produce a great harvest. Here’s what you need to do.

Select Your Space

When choosing a home for your indoor garden, the main thing to consider is light. While some windows (especially those that are south- or west-facing) may provide enough sunlight for plants to grow, light varies as the seasons change. So, you might need to use a grow light or a lamp with a full-spectrum bulb during at least part of the year, especially if you’re planning to grow sun-loving veggies like tomatoes. When choosing which plants to grow, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Plants that produce fruit, like peppers, or edible roots, like beets, need at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day.
  • Most leafy greens and herbs can handle lower light, but still need at least 4 hours per day.

When choosing the best growing space, you’ll also want to consider:

  • Is there a vent, fireplace, or other heat source nearby? In winter, heat from these may cause soil to dry out quickly, making your watering tasks more challenging. 
  • Are nearby windows well-insulated? Older windows can let in drafts that can damage your plants.
  • Does the window get hot, direct summer sunlight? That kind of heat and intensity can damage the leaves of cool-season crops like lettuce and spinach.

Choose Pretty, Practical Containers

Sure, that ceramic pot with the cute geometric design perfectly matches your throw pillows—but look again. Does it have a drainage hole in the bottom? Is it big enough to support good root growth? While you want your indoor veggie gardening to look Instagram-worthy, your main goal is to grow delicious food successfully. You can find lots of pretty pots that work well—just make sure there’s at least one drainage hole in the container. Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of root rot, which will kill your plants. Be sure to place a saucer or tray underneath the container to protect floors and furniture, too. 

Use High-Quality Potting Mix 

Container growing requires a light-weight soil that drains well—garden soil is too heavy for, as frequent watering can compact the soil and suffocate the plant’s roots. Instead, give your indoor vegetable garden a great start with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® All-Purpose Container Mix. Light and fluffy, it’s made with aged compost and provides plants with just the right nutrition.  

Consider Growing in Water

Another option is to grow hydroponically. When you use a hydroponic grow system, the plants grow in water infused with nutrients instead of soil. For a convenient, all-in-one system with built-in light source, check out the Miracle-Gro® Twelve™ Indoor Growing System. It’s an easy-to-use, stylish unit perfectly suited to growing leafy vegetables and herbs indoors. (Bonus: It doubles as an end table.) 

Plant Bonnie Plants® Vegetables and Herbs

If you want a great harvest, choose Bonnie Plants! For more than 100 years, Bonnie Plants has produced plants specifically for home growers, growing the best varieties to set you up for success. With more than 70 greenhouses nationwide that deliver locally-grown plants to retail locations, the veggies and herbs you select at your local retailer are vigorous and strong—and ready to get growing in your garden, indoors or out. You can be confident that Bonnie Plants knows a thing or two about producing great plants for great harvest! Check individual plant tags for planting instructions.

Water Just the Right Amount

Often, too much watering is worse than not enough. A good rule of thumb is to stick your finger in the soil. If the soil feels moist about an inch down, hold off on watering and check again the next day. If the soil is dry at that depth, though, it’s time to give your plants a thorough drink.

Don’t Forget to Feed

To get the most from your plants, it’s important to keep them well fed with Miracle-Gro® Performance Organics® Edibles Plant Nutrition. Containers require more frequent watering than in-ground gardens do, and that can cause nutrients to leach out of the soil. To replace them, just add the fertilizer to your watering can every 7 days (starting about a month after planting) to give your plants the energy they need to keep growing and producing great harvests. 

Check for Pests

Occasionally, pests will try to snack on your plant before you can enjoy the harvest. Whiteflies, aphids, mealybugs, and even fungus gnats can make indoor vegetable growing less pleasant. Usually, a strong spray of water will take care of the critters—just put the plants in the shower! (Be sure to spray the undersides of leaves, too.) If you grow houseplants along with your indoor vegetable garden, make sure to check them for pests as well, and treat them as needed so they won’t spread to your veggies.

Harvest Your Homegrown Goodies–and Enjoy!

It’s an exciting day when your indoor vegetables are ready for the dinner table! Check the plant tag or visit our How to Grow pages to learn when to harvest.

Are you ready to turn your kitchen or living room into a fabulous food farm? Once you’ve decided where, how, and what to grow, find your nearest Bonnie Plants retailer and let your indoor gardening adventure begin.