Being in touch with nature improves your health and overall happiness. It is very relaxing to do things in nature and natural experiences can reduce stress and leave us feeling peaceful. There is no better way to get in touch with nature and natural rhythms than growing and caring for your own food. You don’t have to have a garden or even a yard, you can grow beautiful plants on your balcony or even in your living room. Even a few plants will produce a good amount of food for you to eat or share with friends and family.
Adding a few homegrown ingredients to your meals makes you appreciate nature and food so much more and it’s just fun. You can pick the types of foods you want to grow, the types of seeds you want to use, as well as the soil and fertilizers. What better way to teach your family about eating fresh healthy food? The foods you grow at home will be cheaper than foods you buy at Wholefoods or the farmers market and all you’ll have to do to get them is walk to your living room or balcony.
When growing food indoors, you place your seeds or plants in planters or pots and use high quality soil that you can buy at the farmers market or in any home improvement store or gardening center. By far the most important part of growing plants indoors is to keep your plants in a sunny place. Healthy soil, adequate water and plenty of natural light will ensure that your vegetables thrive and have a bountiful harvest.
The main advantage to growing foods indoors is that you can grow year round. Temperatures inside your house are moderate and you can harvest two or three times a year. Keeping plants in your house also improves the air quality and if you grow edible flowers and aromatic herbs they have a pleasant aroma and they look really nice too. Honestly I haven’t found any downsides to growing food inside.
Here’s my list of easy vegetables to get started with and my top tips to keep them healthy and strong.
1. Beans and Peas
Beans and peas are easy to grow indoors. Use a planter with a saucer to drain excess water. Place the planter right in front of a window or glass door. Beans and peas are vines and love to grow up, as the plants get bigger you need to support them with wooden stakes or string. If you use string you can easily attach some small hooks to the ceiling to hang the string from. Use vertical rope as climbing aids. Beans and peas grow from March to October, with two to three harvests possible.
Tomatoes grow best in big planters, at least ten liters / 2 ½ gallons. As the plants grow use wooden stakes to support the branches. You can use string or small pieces of old nylons to tie the plants to the supports. Once the plants bear fruit the branches will get heavy and will need the support. Tomatoes grow best in dry conditions as they can’t stand direct rain, so indoors is almost an ideal environment for them. However they do need plenty of natural light to ensure that the tomatoes ripen properly and acquire their distinct flavor.
When planted outdoors, bees and other insects will ensure fertilization of tomatoes. Indoors you will need to give the plants a few gentle shakes during the flowering period. Start your tomatoes in March, and you should be able to get two harvests.
Radishes are very easy to grow and can be easily planted in a flower box. Within weeks, the fruits are mature, so that planting and harvesting them several times in a row is possible throughout the entire year.
4. Cucumbers and Zucchini
Similar to tomatoes, cucumber and zucchini can be grown in very large pots or buckets. However, you will need more space as these plants don’t grow as high as tomatoe plants. Like tomatoes though they prefer dry conditions and need a lot of light.
5. Other vegetables for the apartment
Other plants you can easily plant inside your apartment and reap several times a year, are:
- Lettuces & Spinach (in flower boxes or pots)
- Kohlrabi (in sufficiently large pots)
- Herbs of all kinds (ideally situated by the kitchen window for immediate use)
- Edible Flowers
All vegetable plants need abundant nutrients to grow. Depending on the quality of the soil and the number of cycles you grow you may need to fertilize your soil. Remember that your planters and pots are missing natural helpers like insects and worms that help loosening up the soil and provide additional nutrients. When growing indoors a good soil preparation and re-fertilization is important. You can easily add your left over coffee grounds, crushed egg shells and the compost from a Bokashi indoor composter.
If you’ve never grown anything before, start small with just a few plants, herbs or flowers. Once you’ve successfully grown and harvested a few foods you will gain confidence and be ready to expand your indoor garden. And while I’ve listed some of the easier plants to start with don’t be afraid to experiment, I’ve had readers successfully grow potatoes in their apartment.
What vegetables have you grown in your home or on the balcony? Do you have additional pointers to share?