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Indoor Gardening Ideas: Easy Ways to Grow Food

I have to admit that I’m not the best at keeping indoor plants alive. I’m not sure exactly what the issue is, but most of my potted plants die. But that doesn’t mean I don’t grow a mean indoor garden – one that’s filled with vegetables and herbs.

I think the biggest difference is that when you grow herbs and vegetables indoors you know you’re not going to keep them alive for years. You’re going to harvest and use them. When you’ve harvested all you can, you replant. For some reason that totally takes the pressure off me.

Window Sill Pots

Many herbs will grow just fine in a pot on a widow sill. This makes them handy for cooking, you can just reach over and snip a few leaves off here and there. One of the best things you can do for herbs is to harvest them often. Having a container herb garden right in the kitchen helps you do this.

Growing Sprouts

If you’re really limited on space, growing sprouts is something you want to seriously consider. You only need enough space for a mason jar or two and don’t even need a sunny window. There are a few concerns when trying to grow sprouts, so you’ll want to be sure to follow these guidelines for growing sprouts.

image of sprouts in mason jar

Grow Microgreens

Microgreens also don’t take up a lot of space, but will give you a lot of fresh greens in just a couple of weeks. You can stagger the plantings so that you have fresh greens all winter long. Because of our climate, I usually just grow microgreens during the summer when it’s too hot for lettuce.

Using an AeroGarden

My father-in-law gave me a small AeorGarden for Christmas. He knows how to speak to my heart…lol. So far I like it, although I’m still trying to figure out the best way to use it for me.

It came with seeds for dill, basil, and parsley. That’s what I’m growing right now, but not what I think I’ll grow in it going forward. I don’t need those herbs fresh in the kitchen.

We grow plenty of dill in garden each year, and dried dill works just fine for pickles and cooking. We also grow a lot of basil in the garden and turn it into pesto and frozen herbal paste to use throughout the year. Although fresh basil is nice on our homemade pizza, so I might continue to grow basil in it. We don’t use fresh parsley for anything, so there’s really no need to continue growing it.

What I think I’ll use it for is to grow leaf lettuce. I should be able to grow three plants at a time which should be enough for us for salads, especially if I mix the lettuce with microgreens.

Depending on your space and needs, using an Aerogarden might be a good choice for you.

image of mustard microgreens growing in a black container on wooden table

Potted Plants

There are several edible plants that make good indoor potted plants. Sweet potato vines are one such plant. Unlike Irish potatoes, the leaves of sweet potato vines are edible and will grow just fine indoors in container. Give them a small lattice to climb on and you’ll have an interesting and edible house plant.

Meyer lemons and satsuma oranges can also be grown indoors in pots. They will need a sunny window so put them in the sunniest room you have.

Tiered Indoor Greenhouse

A small tiered greenhouse can be used indoors to make an indoor greenhouse. You won’t be able to grow things that are really tall but you will be able to grow things like greens, patio tomatoes, and herbs.

If you want to put your indoor greenhouse in a mudroom, garage, or basement you might need to use a grow light. You can get LED grow lights very inexpensively and since they’re LED they don’t use as much electricity as shop light do.

You can also use the indoor greenhouse to start seeds for your outdoor garden.

A close up of spinach growing in hydroponic garden

Hydroponics – Growing in Water

I’m going to be honest here, I never grown food using hydroponics (other than my new AeroGarden) so take my opinions about it with a grain of salt.

I don’t understand why someone would try to use it on a large scale. I do think there are small scale benefits. Of course, I can grow something in my outside garden year round, so my indoor garden isn’t a true necessity, it just helps fill in the gaps. If I lived in a different climate, I might think differently.

For large scale production, hydroponics is expensive to set up and it takes a lot of space. Attainable-Sustainable has a great article on hydroponic growing that is very informative if you are thinking about growing food this way.

Hydroponic gardening doesn’t have either be super small or super big, there are some middle of the road options that might work for you. Anna at Northern Homestead uses a Garden Tower to grow quite a lot of food. She lives in the very far northern hemisphere and I’m amazed at all she can grow.

Seeds for an Indoor Garden

When you’re deciding on plants for an indoor garden you want to choose plants that won’t get super tall, that produce more than one harvest, that don’t have super deep roots, and will grow with artificial lights. Some plants that fit would be plants like leafy greens, beets, short carrots, patio tomatoes, mushrooms, and radishes. Here’s a great list from Grow a Good Life complete with varieties to choose.

Whenever I need seeds, I first look to MiGardener which sells heirloom seeds and most are only .99 packet. If you use this link you’ll receive a 10% discount on your order.

image of indoor herb garden in pots

What About Indoor Hanging Gardens and Trellises?

If you do a quick Google search you will find all kinds of fancy indoor garden ideas. There are some that are absolutely breath taking. But I think most are impractical for growing food.

I do believe that any indoor garden, regardless of how practical, can be beautiful. There’s just something inherently beautiful about growing plants, especially food. So please don’t think I want you to have an ugly house.

But most of the hanging gardens and trellises are for growing ornamental plants, like succulents. The ones that that I see that do have tomatoes or strawberries growing in them upside down, cause me to think if there has been a bit of photography trickery going on. It would be hard to keep tomatoes growing upside down in my living room pretty for months on end.

Of course, for your indoor garden, you can set it up and grow whatever you like. Just remember that you’re going to have to care for it, so you might not want to full living room wall growing lettuce. Also, unlike ornamental plants, edible plants will be harvested regularly. They aren’t quite the “plant and forget about them” type plants that succulents are.

Do you grow an indoor garden? If so, tell us about it in the comments.

Thanks for sharing with your friends!

Cockeyed Jo

Sunday 16th of February 2020

Angi, I do some of all of that plus have a garden. :o)

Angi Schneider

Monday 17th of February 2020

That's really great! I think sometimes we can get stuck into thinking there's just one "best" way to grow food, when in reality we can use a variety of methods based on our climate and what we need.