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In this post: Did you know that it is possible to grow a ton of different kinds of foods that your family loves indoors? You don’t even need to do it near a window if you’ve got the right equipment! Here are several foods you can grow indoors, plus some things you’ll need to know to get started!
Growing food indoors is ideal for families that live in apartments, small urban or suburban spaces (like where we live) or for when you want to grow food in the middle of winter.
I’ve compiled a list of foods you can grow in your house that your family is actually likely to eat. It doesn’t include random foods like beets which are a little bit less popular with kids and just about anyone who isn’t a gardener. (Personally, I love beets. My family, not so much.)
But, before we get into the list of foods, we should discuss some of the things you’re going to need and why I’ve gotten started with indoor gardening.
Why I’m Attempting to Grow Foods Indoors
So, I’ve begun to attempt to turn my black thumb a little more green.
I’m actually pretty notorious with my friends and family for killing indoor plants.
Outdoor plants do fine – I’m pretty sure God takes pity on them and waters them when I forget. But indoor plants are entirely at the mercy of my forgetful brain!
However, given the state of things across the world at the time of writing this, and the food supply being a little less reliable than in the past, I figured it was about time to tackle this weakness of mine!
It’s only been the last few decades that individual households in North America have moved away from having gardens and growing their own produce.
While grocery stores have made it highly convenient to just pop in and pick something up, it seems we’ve also forgotten how to be at least a little self-sufficient.
And being at least partially self-sufficient and having a wee bit of control over this one thing goes a long way to helping to reduce the stress I feel during times of uncertainty. Maybe you feel the same?
How I’ve Started
To help myself have success with indoor growing, I started with something super low maintenance – lettuce in a small hydroponic grower (a model my brother recommended) on our kitchen counter. It has lights and a digital screen that lets me know when it needs water and fertilizer.
Lettuce is something our family consumes pretty much daily and normally would have a lot of in our fridge. With fewer trips the the grocery store happening lately though, I was missing my salad fix! And it’s still too freaking cold here to plant anything outside.
So far we’ve cut several salads worth of lettuce from this one little grower and it’s still producing.
Given the success of the first hydroponic system, and the ongoing state of things in the world, I actually just bought another, larger hydroponic grower too. This time with lettuce, basil and baby tomatoes! They’ve just begun to sprout. (The little plastic domes stay are on to create a mini greenhouse, and are removed when the plant just starts to touch them.)
It seems to be sold out right now, but I’m sure it will be back in stock soon.
Aside from the hydroponic growers I mentioned, I’ve also started some more traditional growing.
I’ve planted seeds from this kit, which includes:
As well as:
- red onion
- broccoli microgreens
And when we did finally get some fresh produce again (from a local restaurant that is doing produce deliveries while they’re closed to customers), I put the cut ends of both celery and lettuce in glasses of water to sprout too. And I’m attempting to grow an avocado tree from a pit – although I hear that can take a reallllllly long time!
Need to figure out where to buy fresh foods while some stores are closed or out of things? Check out our list of 12 alternate places to buy food.
What You’ll Need to Grow Food Indoors
To start with you need to decide where your plants are going to grow.
If you have a lot of window space and those windows get a lot of direct sun then take advantage of them as much as you can. But if you don’t, then don’t worry.
If you have the space to set up some shelves you have space to grow food.
Alternately, I’ve used an idea my nephew actually came up with, the rolling cart. We had a few kicking around from both Ikea and Michaels. But they’re available online here too. I just repurposed one and claimed it from the basement as my own.
Essentially, with the rolling cart, I can roll it over near a window during the day. And roll it back out of the way when we need to access either the backyard via the sliding door or move around in the dining room.
The plants can get the light they need, and I don’t have to commit any of our space to permanent plant usage!
If you do use shelves you will want to get a grow light for each shelf so that it has the maximum potential for getting light. These can be found in any hardware store or online here.
Plants usually want between 12 and 16 hours of light a day and the indoor grow lights can be very bright on the eyes. This is why many indoor gardeners – myself included – will turn the lights on overnight.
You should also keep in mind just how tall these plants are going to get. Try to give each shelf a couple of feet of space to give your taller plants like peas room to grow. Just be aware of the height of your plants because there are other plants like lettuce that won’t need as much space.
You will need all the usual gardening equipment like trays, compost, seeds, and a watering can.
Be sure that the trays you get to plant in have drain holes and that they are inside another tray that doesn’t have holes. You don’t want the water getting onto your shelves and potentially causing them damage.
You’ll Also Need Fertilizer
After a few weeks, the minerals in your soil will be depleted.
This doesn’t mean that you have to get completely new soil and transplant your plants.
Instead, what it means is that you need some kind of fertilizer.
My personal preference is towards an organic seaweed-based liquid fertilizer that you add to the watering can every few weeks while the plants are growing.
List of Foods You Can Grow Indoors
Now that you have a little bit of an idea of what you’re getting yourself into, here is my list of foods that you can grow in your house that at least most of your family will actually eat.
Some of them are more difficult to grow than others and take many years of growth before they’ll ever produce anything. But, they are well worth the wait in my opinion.
- Bell Peppers
- Dwarf Beans
- Lettuce Greens
My Plans for Growing Food Going Forward
I plan to have Dean build us some raised beds outside as soon as it’s warm enough (in southern Ontario, Canada where we live, that’s usually around May 24th). I’m also going to plant some easy crops like potatoes in these really neat grower bags that I found on Amazon. They have a little flap on the side, so you can harvest the potatoes without disrupting the entire plant.
We’re also going to plant a couple of fruit trees like cherries (that look pretty too) out in our front yard, since the backyard is all pool and pool deck and we can’t really plant much back there at all.
That should give us a little more food security and be a lesson in all things nature too.
Ya gotta start somewhere, right?
A book I’m loving lately: The Suburban Micro Farm.
While I’m by no means an expert on this yet (and may never be), this post should be enough to get you started. Then maybe we can learn and grow together!