How To Grow Vegetables Indoors
Written by Natalie Anstey
We all know that fruit and vegetables are packed full of nutrients and brilliant for our health, but have you ever tasted the difference between veggies that you buy in the supermarket and fresh produce?
“But I don’t have a garden!” I hear you cry…well the good news is that you don’t actually need a garden to grow vegetables! It can be done easily indoors, and the best thing of all…you can grow vegetables all year round!
In This Article:
Rule of (Green) Thumb: Did you know you don’t even have to buy seeds to grow vegetables? You can grow plants from vegetable scraps that have seen better days from your fridge!
Where Should I Grow Indoor Vegetables?
You can grow vegetables absolutely anywhere in your house as long as there aren’t too many temperature fluctuations, constant drafts or is too shady.
Vegetables usually like a temperature of about 70℉ and need at least 4-6 hours of sunlight a day; So they ideally need to be placed in a light and sunny spot.
A bright kitchen or conservatory would be ideal but if this is not possible then grow lights are really effective - more on this later.
It is also important that air circulation is available, whether that be an open window or a fan to blow through some of the stagnant air in the room.
Rule of (Green) Thumb: Without air circulation, fungus or mold can form on your indoor veggies. Plus air circulation is great for pollination!
Do I Need Grow Lights For Indoor Vegetables?
i01. Growing Vegetables Indoors With Grow Lights - Vegetable plants need SUN SUN SUN! The best place to grow your vegetables is by a southern- or western-facing window.
An east facing window can be used if growing vegetables that don’t require flowering to produce fruit such as lettuces, carrots and spinach.
02. Growing Vegetables Indoors Without Grow Lights - Many vegetables such as potatoes or carrots that grow underground don’t need any special equipment. However, other types of vegetables that need to photosynthesize above the ground benefit from a grow light.
These can be picked up pretty cost effectively from your local hardware store. It is vital though that you get the right light!
Vegetable plants need both blue and red light to photosynthesize and the easiest way to do this is to get a full spectrum bulb - the higher the intensity the better!
Each grow light does have different instructions but the majority need to be positioned around 10 inches over the top of the plant. Keep the light on to mimic daylight and turn off at night to give your plant a rest and this will help production.
For more info on how to use grow lights, check our out blog Grow Lights 101!
Whether using grow lights or not, the plants need to be watered very regularly - probably every day as they will be prone to drying out. This is particularly important if you are growing vegetable plants that produce fruit such as tomatoes and cucumbers as otherwise you may have shriveled and dry vegetables.
Rule of (Green) Thumb: Vegetables grown in a northern-facing window will struggle and will likely need a grow light to supplement.
Rule of (Green) Thumb: Rotate your pots when growing vegetables to get an even coverage of sunlight/ artificial light. You will have a much fuller and evenly spread plant!
When Is The Right Time To Plant Indoor Vegetables?
The joy of growing vegetables is that you can grow them all year round! It may feel natural to start growing vegetables from seeds or small plants in the spring and summer, and this is probably true as there will be enough light for a successful crop, BUT vegetables can actually be grown through the winter months with the help of grow lights!
Using grow lights means you can enjoy fresh home grown tomatoes for Thanksgiving!
Common Problems With Growing Vegetables Indoors:
01. Not Enough Light - Vegetable plants do need at least 4-6 hours of sunlight otherwise they won’t grow to their full potential and become weak and puny.
In the case of tomatoes and other fruiting vegetables, a sunny spot is needed to produce flowers; no flowers means no vegetables.
This can be combated by changing the plant’s position to somewhere with more sunlight or investing in some grow lights to give your plant that extra boost it needs!
02. Wrong Potting Compost - Vegetable plants grown indoors do have specific compost needs. It would be quite easy (and common sense) to think that since vegetables grow in the ground outdoors, it would be ok to use topsoil directly from the garden as a potting medium. WRONG!
Top soil from the garden can harbor pests and diseases which can quickly spread to other plants in the home. The soil can also become heavy and compacted, making root rot more likely.
It’s a far better and “productive” idea to use multi purpose compost or even specialized compost for growing vegetables with feed inbuilt. This will ensure that the soil is full of nutrients and is light and airy to give your vegetable plants the best start possible!
03. Lack of Drainage - Along with a nutrient rich soil it is important that there is plenty of drainage in the bottom of your pots.
As some vegetable plants do get quite large, it would be wise to place the pot on top of a saucer and water from the bottom. In this way the plant can take up as much water as it needs. If watering from the top there is somewhere for the excess water to drain to rather than your floor!
It is very important that there are holes in the bottom of the pot to make sure that the soil does not become waterlogged which could encourage root rot or mold to form.
04. Dryness or Lack of Humidity - In the winter months the air can be dry due to central heating, and vegetable plants prefer a humidity level of 40% to 60%. If they don't receive this level of humidity, they can dry out and begin to fade.
Positioning your plants together can help increase humidity levels, or you can spray a fine mist of water every couple of days to help ensure your plants get the humidity levels they need. Placing saucers of pebbles with water near your plants will also help.
05. Poor Air Circulation - Vegetable plants do not like constant drafts but they also hate still air that becomes stagnant.
If the air becomes too still and stagnant then it can become a breeding ground for mold and fungus, so if possible cracking open a window or placing a fan near your vegetable plants will ensure this doesn’t happen. It also has the added benefit of encouraging cross pollination to provide a larger and healthier crop and a more abundant yield!
Rule of (Green) Thumb: Placing your plant in a room where you are hang drying laundry can help increase humidity levels.
Best Vegetables To Grow Indoors:
Vegetables can be categorized into two distinct groups: Hot vegetables and cold vegetables.
01. “Hot” Vegetables - These must be grown in southern- or western-facing windows and may require extra help from a grow light. Here are some examples of "hot" vegetables:
- Tomatoes (plum or cherry tomatoes work well as they grow in abundance and ripen more quickly than larger tomatoes.
- Bell Peppers
- Chili Peppers
- Egg Plant
02. "Cold' Vegetables - These are less fussy than "hot" vegetables. and can be grown by an eastern-facing window . Cold loving vegetables are the easier of the two to grow but do not let that put you off from "hot" veggies! Here are some examples of "cold" vegetables:
- Carrots (try small carrots - these are super yummy roasted)
- Lettuce/ Microgreens
Rule of (Green) Thumb: Make sure to grow vegetables in succession, don’t plant seeds all at the same time as you will have a glut of vegetables all at the same time. A good tip is to plant seeds every week which means you should have an edible crop every 7 days!
Download the Flora App for detailed guides on how to care for your vegetables!