Gardening has many benefits. It reduces stress, gives you a feeling of accomplishment and even strengthens your hands! In these difficult times it is important to make our health and well-being a priority. This is the perfect time to plant a garden! But how can you get the benefits of gardening when you don’t have a yard? You can grow indoor plants that grow food! Here are 10 ideas.
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Some tips before you start
If you don’t want to grow from seed, contact your local nursery. Many offer curbside pickup. I recently spent 20 minutes on the phone with a very friendly young man at my local nursery because I needed help with my order. I made sure to ask if it was a good time for a longer call, and offered to leave my number so they could call me back when it was convenient for them. Nurseries are considered essential businesses because they sell veggie starts etc, therefore it is likely that you will have no trouble to get what you are looking for. I paid over the phone with my credit card and when I arrived someone brought my order out and put it in the bed of my truck. This is also a great way to support a local small business!
When you grow from seed there are three things which are important. First, make sure you get a good potting mix. Not all potting mixes are created equal! Different plants have different needs. Make a plan beforehand and buy your potting mix accordingly. Second, make sure you leave some room for drainage. Pots with holes in the bottom are the easiest way to ensure proper drainage, but you can also pile some stones into the bottom of the pot before you fill it with potting mix. Last but not least, light is important. Most plants prefer a lot of light. If you have sunny window sills this is perfect! If not, there are options for grow lights that will help your plants be happy.
There is a big variety of herbs you can grow indoors in a pot. Basil may be the most popular and an easy one. If you grow it from seed it takes about 8-14 days to germinate. The first true leaves should show about 2-3 weeks later. Give it another 2-3 weeks and your basil plant should be around 6″ already! Some other herbs that are good indoors are lemon balm, chives, mint, parsley, bay laurel, cilantro, thyme, oregano or sage. There is a wide variety of options!
2. Lemons and Limes
My favorite indoor plants that grow food! I have a dwarf lemon tree and a dwarf lime tree that live in pots in my living room. I bought them both last year at my local nursery and the lemon tree already produced 5 lemons! Both lemons and limes have great nutritional value. Most know that lemons contain a lot of vitamin C, but did you know they can also aid in weight loss, reduce your risk of heart disease, anemia, kidney stones, digestive issues and cancer! Limes contain high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants. They may improve immunity, reduce heart disease risk factors, prevent kidney stones, aid iron absorption, and promote healthy skin. Overall, growing your own lemons and limes will not just make your gardening heart happy, but also aid your self-care.
If your are patient and ambitious can can grow both of these trees from seed. It will take up to three years for them to produce fruit.
Tomatoes are fun to grow indoors. If you start from seed it should take no longer than 60 – 80 days for them to bear fruit! Personally I love cherry tomatoes. They are ideal because the plants to do not grow too big. A 12″ deep container should suffice. Make sure t check if your variety of tomato requires support or not. Tomatoes are rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits such as reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K.
4. Salad Greens
Growing salad greens is one of my favorite things. Sometimes the store bought salad goes bad faster than I can eat it. Growing my own is the perfect solution. Salad greens include iceberg, spinach, romaine, red leaf, and arugula. They contain the vitamins A, C, and K, and also folate and iron. They are quick growing and you should be able to harvest them after just 4 to 6 weeks after seeding. Plant the seeds in well-worked soil. Good drainage and moisture retention are important. You should sow the seeds about a ¼ inch deep and space the rows 12 inches apart. When your seedlings are a few inches tall and have some leaves they will start fighting for space. That’s the time to thin them.
That’s right! Avocados can be indoor plants that will grow food. However, growing from seed may or may not result in edible fruit. If you want to give it a shot, here is how. Remove the pit from your avocado and clean it well. The pit has two ends, o is up and one is down. The top will be slightly pointy while the bottom is somewhat flat. Pierce the pit with three toothpicks, then place it in a glass of water and submerge it half way. It is important that the top is not under water. Or get an AvoSeed grower!
Now wait for your avocado pit to sprout. This will take between two and six weeks. When the pit has sprouted and is about 6″ tall you can pot it in soil.
You can also buy an avocado dwarf tree. Your homegrown tree may take between 5 and 7 years to bear fruit.
Avocados are very tasty and nutrient rich. Among their many benefits are heart health, osteoporosis prevention and a lower risk of depression – an important staple these days.
6. Garlic Greens
Growing garlic greens is a great alternative to growing garlic, which can be tricky. They do, however, contain the same nutrients such as allicin (a sulfur compound and natural antibiotic), manganese (a mineral linked to good cholesterol) and iron and can be used just like scallions.
Get a few garlic bulbs with small cloves. Fill a 4″ pot with potting soil. Make sure it either has drainage holes in the bottom or add some pebbles, as mentioned above. The pot should only be filled up to half an inch below the top. Break the bulbs into single cloves. Do not take the peel off. Push each clove about an inch into the soil, making sure the pointy end is up. You should plant around 12 cloves close together. Keep them well watered and keep the pot in a sunny spot. Your cloves should start sprouting in about one week.
Microgreens are a nutritional powerhouse! Not only do they contain antioxidants, but most varieties have potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper, too! They are very easy to grow. There is a variety of options. I like to get a good microgreens mix.
You will need a seedling tray that is no deeper than 2″. Fill it all the way up with potting mix. Add water until the soil is damp but not too wet. Scatter your seeds evenly over the soil. Make sure they are not touching each other. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. Lightly mist the soil. If you have a spray bottle, that is a great way to make sure you aren’t over watering.
Your microgreens will need some warmth. Ideally they should be in a room that’s between 60 and 70°F. For best results you need to keep the soil moist on a daily basis. Germination should take about 3 to 5 days.When they do place them in a sunny spot.
Ginger is healthy and easy to grow. It calms nausea and reduces inflammation. To grow it all you have to do is buy a chunk of ginger at grocery store. Fill a pot with soil. Place the chunk of ginger into the pot while making sure the freshest looking florets point up, then cover it with soil. Keep the soil well-watered but don’t over water it. Place the pot into direct sunlight. Et voila!
Are you a tea lover like me? Then growing mint is a fabulous idea. You can make your own mint tea! So much tastier than the store-bought version. But mint also has health benefits. It aids digestion, has anti-inflammatory properties as well as antiviral and antibacterial properties. It may also help to cure headaches.
You can grow mint from seed, but you will need a large, deep pot because it will sprawl. Fill your large container with potting soil. Put the seeds in and cover them with 1/4 inch of soil. Keep moist but don’t over water. 70Fahrenheit is an ideal room temperature for your mint. It will sprout in 1 to 2 weeks.
10. Hot Peppers
Hot peppers don’t just spice up dinner, they are also very decorative indoor plants that grow food. Before you plant soak the seeds in warm water over night. This will help with germination. Use 4″ pots, fill them with potting soil and add one to three pepper seed to each. Cover your seeds with 1/4″ of soil. If more than one seed germinates, let the strongest one grow and trim back the other. Until the seeds germinate keep the pots in a dark place. After sprouting put them in a spot where they can receive about 6 hours of sunlight per day.