Growing your own food has become increasingly popular, and for good reason. Rather than stock your fridge full of produce from the grocery store, which has encountered who knows how many pesticides and other nasty chemicals since inception, you can sprout up your very own chemical-free produce in the comfort of your kitchen. The perks for growing your own herbs, fruits and veggies are endless—it’s cheaper, healthier, better for the planet, and the list goes on. We decided to give you six great choices of herbs, fruits and veggies to grow indoors to get you started.
This superfood is rich with vitamin and nutrients, healthy fats and packed with more potassium than bananas. The benefits to eating avocados are numerous, from lowering your cholesterol to helping your eyes; from relieving arthritis to preventing cancer. Avocados help us absorb nutrients from other plant foods as well, rich with fiber and antioxidants AND can help you lose weight. It is indeed a superfood!
While it is possible, and fun, to grow an avocado from the pit, it can also be very daunting and time consuming (sometimes frustrating and not always rewarding). However, if you prefer to see this from start to finish, just purchased a home and wish to add a commemorative, living keepsake to it, we highly recommend it. We do want to forewarn you that more often than not, when growing an avocado tree from a pit, the tree may not yield edible fruit until it’s 5-10 years old. If you’d rather skip the extra work and eat what you sow a little sooner, we suggest you purchase an avocado plant. Keep in mind that most avocado trees can grow to a mature height of 25 feet or more, so we suggest a dwarf variety for indoors, such as the Little Cado (Wertz) or Holiday. Avocados are not simple to grow. To successfully grow an avocado tree, make sure to plant in a sunny location in well drained soil.
Growing up, I’m sure you’ve heard how good carrots are for your eyes. Well, it’s not just something your mom told you to make you eat your vegetables. Carrots are a fabulous source of an assortment of vitamins and minerals. Vitamins A, B6, C, and K, as well as thiamin, niacin, folate, manganese and potassium are jammed in these orange root vegetables. Let us not forget carotenoids, the culprits for those healthy eyes.
Carrots are one of the easiest vegetables to grow indoors since it’s simpler to maintain the steady level of moisture in the soil they require. Like avocados, carrots are sun lovers. Although partial sun will work, your carrots will not grow as quickly. We recommend growing carrots in loosely filled, well drained soil, in a very deep planter, within temperature of 70-80F. Your carrots will be ready to harvest once they’ve grown to about ¾ of an inch across the top.
Sweet and small, it’s no wonder Mandarins are a favorite healthy snack among younger children (and some older ones too). Supplying fiber, phosphorous, magnesium, calcium and antioxidants, these little gems can be tricky to grow in pots. In order to have the best possible chances of success growing a mandarin tree indoors, we suggest a dwarf variety, like the “Owari Satsuma”. The mandarin trees’ root system grows along with the tree, so it’s best to plant them in rich soil in a spacious pot with drainage holes, making sure to re-pot when the roots begin to grow back onto themselves. Mandarins require a lot of sun and need to be watered regularly (at least twice a week) – make sure to rotate the tree routinely to ensure even growth. Fortunately, you can harvest its sweet fruit as soon as it turns orange (about 12 months) by carefully clipping or twisting and pulling the fruit from the tree.
Considered the world’s healthiest food by some, tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins A (in the form of beta-carotene), B6, C, E, and K, as well as biotin and molybdenum. They are also a very good source of copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, folate, niacin, and phosphorus. Although tomatoes are a little more challenging to grow indoors, nothing quite compares to eating a fresh tomato in the middle of winter, AND you don’t need a green thumb to produce a juicy vine-ripened tomato sure to remind you of those warm summer days. With just a 6-inch pot of soil and a bright, sunny spot, windowsill-tomatoes can be ready to harvest in a few short weeks. Keep in mind that tomatoes grown indoors will not be as large as tomatoes grown outdoors, but they’ll still be full of that flavor you’re yearning for.
This flavorful herb is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. These anti-bacterial properties are not associated with its unique flavonoids, but instead with its volatile oils, which contain estragole, linalool, cineole, eugenol, sabinene, myrcene, and limonene. Basil can be very temperamental when grown indoors. A sun lover, basil needs a container at least four inches wide to hold in the moisture, as well as drain properly (use pebbles or sand on the bottom). Basil needs lots of sun and water! When indoors, artificial light could be key for it to bear the best crop possible. Water it whenever the soil is dry. For a nice, healthy plant, never remove all the leaves from any one plant.
Besides being tasty in Mojitos, mint has been used for thousands of years to aid with indigestion and upset stomachs. Mint plants are fairly easy to grow (almost weed-like) – even in a potted environment. Like a weed, mint leaves like to sprawl as they grow, so make sure to plant them in a deep, wide pot or planter. Unlike most indoor plants, mint does not need a lot of direct sunlight. Instead, mint requires indirect light, adequate drainage, and light misting. However, just like the Basil, for a nice, healthy plant, never remove all the leaves from any one plant.
There’s a wide variety of herbs, fruits and veggies you can grow indoors so don’t stop at just these six. These will simply get you started in enjoying the “fruits” of your labor during the season when these wouldn’t generally be as readily available.