The single best way to get fresh food is to grow it. This is great if you have a homestead, or a live in a farm, or your house has a massive garden. A bit harder if you live in a flat or have a very small garden.
Luckily, growing food indoors is actually quite easy and you don’t need a lot of space: a few pots, a sunny windowsill, and a bit of patience are all you need to start your indoor garden.
Benefits of growing food indoors
There are two main advantages to growing food indoors:
- the weather won’t trouble you
- bugs will be less of an issue
If you live in a place that is very cold or very hot, growing indoors means you will be able to control temperature fluctuations. And bugs will be kept to mostly those that would be around a normal house, instead of those most commonly found outdoors.
Birds won’t eat all your cabbages before you get to try them. And don’t forget that you won’t get cats, dogs, foxes, and other assorted animals doing their things all over your food! But be careful if you have pets or small kids, they could be worse than wild animal when it comes to plants.
Also, if you are a fan of international foods, growing your own ingredients can hugely reduce the cost of cooking them. Of course, you won’t be able to grow everything indoors. But you would be surprised by the amount of plants that will flourish inside a house with just a little bit of care.
Herbs are a popular option for indoor growing because buying fresh herbs can get quite expensive and dried herbs (as fantastic as they are) don’t work in all recipes. Herbs are really easy to care for and the plants will usually live for a long time.
Most herbs can be easily grown from seed. But if you are not the kind to grow things from scratch, you can always buy seedlings or even fully grown plants and simply make sure you keep them alive. You don’t even need to visit a garden centre to find herb plants, most large supermarkets now sell them in the greengrocer’s section at competitive prices.
At some point or the other we’ve grown basil, chives, parsley, chervil, thyme, rosemary, coriander, dill, cilantro, oregano, and mint. Most times my children will even take care of them for me. Herbs are that easy to grow!
Garlic and ginger are two popular spices that are also very easy to grow, and can be done almost free. For garlic you just plant a clove and you’ll get a whole head (plus the greens and flowers which are delicious!). With ginger you have to wait for ‘eyes’ to develop before you plant it. If you take care of your plants, you’ll have an endless supply of garlic and ginger.
Peppers of all sorts are also quite easy to grow indoors. If you’re a fan of spicy foods, you can add some variety by growing all different kinds of chilies that are hard to buy.
If you have a bit more space, you could also grow all varieties of onions. This is a great options if you like more expensive varieties like shallots or baby leeks. If you have a bit less space, spring onions (scallions) are also an option.
Leafy greens are especially easy to grow and there are so many varieties: iceberg lettuce, kale, spinach, chard, batavia lettuce, rocket, mizuna… Just like herbs you can grow them from seed, get seedlings, or even buy ‘alive salads’ from the supermarket and transfer them to a larger pot. You’ll get a larger variety to choose from if you grow from seed.
Tomatoes are also easy to grow indoors, especially cherry tomatoes as the plants are smaller. I really like growing those cute orange and yellow varieties. They look nice, taste a little bit different, and are quite expensive to buy. Perfect combination for something you should grow yourself!
Carrots, celery, radishes, onions (mentioned above), and fennel can be grown indoors as well. They do take a bit more space, so you will need a larger pot on the floor rather than a small windowsill one.
Many fruit trees have dwarf versions that can be kept indoors, especially citrus fruits. Kumquat in particular is a fantastic little tree to grow in a flat or a balcony.
Many berries can also be kept in pots. In the UK they can be bought as small plants in most garden centres and even pound shops and discount supermarkets (during Spring) for a very low cost.
My all-time favourite fruit to grow on the windowsill is strawberries. The first few years you have a plant it won’t usually yield much, but after a while you’ll get loads and loads of strawberries. And there are many varieties you can grow.