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Growing Vegetables Indoors: From Seeds To Your Dinner Plate

By Edited Jun 6, 2016 12 29

Have you ever thought about growing your own vegetables indoors?

Growing vegetables indoors is much easier than most people think. You don't need a super green thumb, a whole bunch of expensive planting equipment or an advanced agricultural or botany degree; all you need is a little space, a few inexpensive containers, soil, seeds and water.

There are several reasons why growing vegetables inside your home is such a great idea. And I'll get into those a little further down in this article. But for now let's look at how easy it is to get grow vegetable plants in nearly any room of your house.

How To Grow Vegetables Indoors

You're going to need a couple of things before we get started. You can get as elaborate or as thrifty as you'd like, because in most instances the plants themselves won't know the difference, and will produce just as well regardless.

A plant pot. Not to be confused with a pot plant! (sorry, little gardening humor there). This is exactly what it sounds like: a container that your vegetables will grow in. If you're going for a decorative vibe, then check out the gardening or even house plant sections of your local department stores, they'll have plenty to choose from, in all shapes, sizes and colors. You can even go with window boxes! If you're looking to work on the cheap, consider containers that you've got laying around the house, such as old plastic soda bottles (just cut them in half), milk jugs, bowls, food grade buckets or just about anything else that's decently sized. Just make sure it's "food safe," because the plants will soak up any chemicals (dangerous or not) and you'll end up eating them.

Potting soil. You can pick this up at a very reasonable price at nearly any department store or local nursery. I think I paid about $8 for a ten-pound bag a month or two ago. Potting soil is perfect for growing indoor plants because it is infused with minerals and nutrients that are ever present in the ground outdoors. These are what your vegetable plants will "eat" while they're growing. Of course you could save a few bucks and scoop up some dirt from your local backyard or park, but for the cheap cost of potting soil and the way it increases your chances of a successful crop yield, I wouldn't skimp here.

Seeds. There are so many varieties of vegetable seeds that you shouldn't have any trouble finding something that sounds delicious and that grows well indoors. Here are few things to keep in mind, though: 1) Make sure the adult plants won't overgrow your pot, most seed packages will say how tall and deep they'll get, so take a look. 2) Make sure the plants will grow in the temperature that your thermostat is set at, again this information should be available on the packaging. 3) Think realistically about what you can grow, if you've got small potting areas, growing six foot corn stalks isn't feasible, but perhaps small carrots would work?

Okay, that's all you'll need to buy at the store or make from scratch. See, growing vegetables indoors is cheap!

How To Prepare Your Pots For Planting

If you bought pots for indoor plants, this is as simple as adding potting soil into the pot. But if you're using a retrofitted container, you'll need to do a little handy work first. What we don't want is for the water to pool up at the bottom and keep the soil soggy. This can lead to root rot and other plant diseases which could ruin your vegetable plants.

You've got two options here, and I've used both with good results.

1. Add a layer of stones at the bottom, then cover the stones with sand before adding the potting soil. This will give the water a place to go without keeping the soil itself wet. Eventually the vegetable roots will grow into this water trap, and that's fine. If you go this route, be mindful about how much water your give your vegetable seedlings, as too much could bring the standing water level up into the soil.

2. Drill or cut a couple of holes in the bottom or sides of the pot, then place it inside another container that will catch the runoff water. Just make sure there is space for the water to flow.

Natural Sunlight Or Artificial Plant Lighting?

In all but the most extreme North and South climates, you should have plenty of natural sunlight to grow indoor vegetables, even during the shorter days of winter. I would recommend finding a spot near a window that gets plenty of natural light, though.

If you dont' get enough natural light, or you just want a large crop of indoor grown vegetables, you could consider a growing light. These are pretty inexpensive, and mimic the natural rays of the sun, which helps your vegetable plants thrive (plants need these rays to grow, you know, photosynthesis and all that science stuff).

Personally, I've never used a light. I've had plenty of friends who have them and use them all the time, and report great success, but I always opt for natural sunlight. It just seems more natural that way.

What Kind Of Vegetables Can You Grow Indoors?

Pretty much anything. Vegetables are extremely hardy, unlike most fruits, so it's pretty easy to grow most of them inside. Carrots, beats, celery, turnips, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, cabbage and onions grow extremely easy indoors. So do vine vegetables like squash, pumpkins, tomatoes.

You should be able to find all these vegetable seeds year round in your local department stores or nurseries. Hardware and home improvement stores are another place to look, such as Lowe's, Home Depot and Ace.

You an also try your hand at more than veggies; growing herbs and spices indoors are just as easy and rewarding.

No matter what seeds you buy, always follow the watering instructions on the packaging. Some require lots of water, other very little. Never over or under water your plants, as they could die; or at the very least under-produce.

Also follow the planting instructions. They should specify planting depth and spacing. Follow these as closely as possible.

Some Advantages Of Indoor Vegetable Plants

For starters, eating vine-ripened veggies fresh out of the plant itself means you'll get more flavor and nutrients. Most of the vegetables you buy at the store have traveled hundreds - if not thousands - of miles from where they were grown; and during that trip they lose flavor, vitamins and nutrients.

It looks cool, too. I like the aesthetic quality of some really neet pots growing vegetables in my home. You'd be surprised at how many conversations they start, too.

And you'll feel good, too, knowing that you're eating healthy, fresh produce that hasn't been saturated with chemicals or other nasty substances.

See, growing vegetables indoors is fun, easy, cheap and rewarding!



Jan 1, 2012 5:08am
Good information on growing veggies inside, There is another advantage you won't have to put up with the white cabbage moth laying its eggs on your vegetables. Therefore you won't need to use any chemical sprays or garlic sprays to discourage these. rated up
Jan 11, 2012 2:41pm
Thanks for that, Eileen, I forgot to mention that growing vegetables indoors is virtually pest free. Sure there's a chance you'll still get bugs, but it's minimal compared to outdoors.

Thanks for reading :)
Jan 3, 2012 4:43pm
I love the idea of growing vegetables indoors! this would be a great way to make use of a sunroom during colder weather and it would guarantee some natural light for the plants. great article!
Jan 3, 2012 7:41pm
I always wanted to grow my own vegetables indoors but, had assumed I needed an elaborate hydroponic setup. It never occured to me that my foliage plants are thriving so why not plants for food? Maybe its time to use my carpentry skills to build an indoor veggie garden in my spare room!
Jan 11, 2012 2:42pm
Wow, an entire indoor vegetable garden in a spare room - that's a lot of veggies! I've never done anything on that scale, I mostly just have a few potted plants under windows here and there. You'll have to let me know how this turns out if you choose to go forward with it.

Thanks for reading :)
Jan 3, 2012 10:31pm
Well written and a good idea.

My friend and I are now trying to grow vegetables indoors using recycled plastic bottles as pots. There's a great TEDtalk by a woman called Britta Riley on how to grow a veggie garden in your apartment using a homemade hydroponic set-up.
Jan 11, 2012 2:43pm
I'm not sure what TEDtalk is, but I'd love to check it out. Is it online?

Thanks for reading :)
Jan 11, 2012 5:12pm
Yeah. Go to www.ted.com There are over 1000 different talks. Search for the talk by Britta Riley.
Jan 10, 2012 8:17am
I look forward to my vegetable garden each summer; but have never considered growing vegetables inside, in the winter. Very interesting! Thanks for sharing the 'how to,' and congratulations on being featured.
Jan 11, 2012 2:44pm
Thanks for reading, and thanks for the congratulations, it's my first feature ever so I'm pretty jazzed :)
Jan 10, 2012 10:17am
I love this article! I have been growing herbs such as basal, oregano, parsley, and garlic chives in a wonderful self-watering container outside for a few years. Your article has me thinking that I could continue that plan possibly indoors! There is nothing like homemade spaghetti sauce made with fresh parsley and garlic chives! Thanks for the article.
Jan 10, 2012 10:47am
Wonderful article, I was going to wait until spring to start growing my vegetables, but I guess I can start now. Thanks for sharing.
Jan 10, 2012 12:03pm
I especially like your tip about the growing lamp as I have good light but have to find a way to keep my cat away from plants. Congrats on getting this article featured.
Jan 11, 2012 2:45pm
That's funny about your cat! It's either bugs outdoors or cats indoors, eh? And thanks for the congrats!
Jan 10, 2012 12:05pm
I love growing veggies inside, but some require a lot of sun to fruit, so a good spot or light is necessary. My advice to anyone would be to forget the fancy grow lights. A cheap T8 bulb will work perfectly as long as it is close enough to the plant. Now that you have me thinking of growing vegetables inside, what should I plant next...
Jan 11, 2012 2:46pm
That's excellent advice, thanks for offering your suggestions and experiences!

And thanks for reading :)
Jan 10, 2012 3:41pm
Great information. You can also grow plants hydroponically on a counter top using canning jars, cotton, liquid fertilizer, water and a fish tank air pump. You mentioned Tomatoes, but I thought those took lots of light to grow well. Do you use supplemental light for plants like that, or do you have a specific type that you grow?
Jan 11, 2012 2:47pm
Tomatoes do love light, so I usually find a window with the longest "sun hours" per day. In the 'States it's one on the southeast corner of the house. Haven't had many problems coaxing them into growing. Might be a different story if they were "quarantined" to a window looking northwest though.

Thanks for reading :)
Jan 11, 2012 9:56am
Thanks for this. Never knew that it was possible. :)
Jan 11, 2012 12:45pm
I large window that gets a lot of sun is all you need - no fancy stuff. I grow tomatoes, spinach, radish and lettuce in mine. Great article :-)
Jan 11, 2012 2:48pm
Thanks, Freedomblogger!
Jan 11, 2012 2:03pm
Growing vegetables inside is a great idea.
Jan 11, 2012 2:40pm
Fantastic idea. Living in cold climate, this could be a game changer.
Thank you.
Jan 11, 2012 2:49pm
Absolutely. I originally started growing vegetables inside as a "starter" for transplanting them outdoors once it warmed up. That worked great until we had a very cool summer and i ended up keeping everything indoors. The results were great and I've been doing so ever since.

Thanks for reading :)
Jan 11, 2012 5:50pm
I've started thinking that in England its better to just keep them indoors. Too bloody cold outside!
Jan 11, 2012 7:18pm
I'd really like to try this.
Jan 12, 2012 1:40am
I'm definitely going to give it a try raising tomatoes indoors. I just can't bring myself to buy what passes for tomatoes in the grocery stores during the winter. For me, the taste of a homegrown tomato is like ambrosia.

Congratulations on having your article featured.
Jan 28, 2012 8:29pm
This could definitely be something work looking into. Sure would be nice to have some fresh local produce in the winter.
Oct 11, 2013 8:37pm
Great ideas for growing vegetables in pots indoors.
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