5 Fruits & Veggies to Grow Indoors

Even if you live in a small apartment in a high-rise building, you can grow vegetables and fruits completely indoors at just about any time of year. All it requires is the right soil, a source of light, water, seeds, and some TLC. What you get for your efforts is fresh produce, full of vitamins and nutrients.

According to the CDC, few Americans consume enough produce. Eating a variety of fruit and veg improves your health and may help with weight loss—and they taste great!

  1. Tomatoes
  2. “Discovered” in the New World, the antioxidant-packed tomato traveled back to Europe on explorers’ ships. When fresh off the vine, tomatoes are juicy and flavorful, with varying degrees of sweetness and tartness. Dwarf bush varieties grow well indoors.

    What It Needs:

    • Quality potting soil
    • A grow light
    • A dwarf bush variety plant (or seeds)
    • A medium-large container
    • Tomato fertilizer/food

    Things to Keep in Mind: Tomatoes are heavy feeders, so even if you use pre-fertilized potting soil, you still must feed them regularly. They also need regular watering and lots of light—likely more than available in a sunny window, so consider purchasing a grow light. They need warm temperatures (in the 80s) to set fruit, and unless you grow a parthenocarpic hybrid tomato, you will need to provide pollination.

    When to Harvest: For full flavor, pick tomatoes when the color (depending upon the variety) is fully developed. If you are impatient, you can pick them while green and make fried green tomatoes.

  3. Strawberries
  4. Most strawberry varieties do well indoors, but the diminutive Alpine strawberry tops them all. Full of antioxidants and beneficial for blood sugar control, nothing matches the intense, sweet flavor and natural juiciness of homegrown strawberries.

    What It Needs:

    • Strawberry plants (growing from seed is a bit arduous)
    • One 5” pot per plant
    • Fertile potting soil that drains well
    • A light source (strawberries can handle a bit of shade)

    Things to Keep in Mind: You must pollinate the flowers for them to bear fruit. Just use a cotton swab or small paintbrush and swipe around inside each flower. Strawberries are susceptible to several pests and diseases, but maintaining good drainage can help avoid problems.

    When to Harvest: Most varieties are red, but some Alpine strawberries are yellow or white. When harvesting, fruit should be ruby red or creamy white with little or no green or bright white areas.

  5. Leafy Greens
  6. Leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.) grow well indoors because they need no pollination and have lower light requirements. Look for varieties with compact growing habits, and plant more seeds each week for a continual supply.

    What It Needs:

    • Seeds (choose a variety for a combination of nutritional benefits)
    • Fertile potting soil
    • A shallow, flat planting container
    • Spray bottle
    • Light

    Things to Keep in Mind: Greens need moisture, and benefit from a daily spritz of water from a spray bottle. However, too much water causes mold. While greens tolerate lower light conditions, you may still need a grow light.

    When to Harvest: It takes several weeks for a full head of lettuce to develop. However, feel free to thin out your patch and use the trimmings as part of your meal.

  7. Beans and Peas
  8. Successful indoor bean and pea plant culture depends upon one term: “dwarf.” Dwarf varieties provide plenty of sweet, crispy peas and beans full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients without having your house overrun by 10-foot vines.

    What It Needs:

    • Dwarf variety seed
    • Fertile soil that drains well (add a small portion of sand, if needed)
    • Long, narrow containers with plenty of bottom drainage holes
    • A grow light

    Things to Keep in Mind: Peas and beans need moisture, but too much may cause diseases. Remove any sickly looking plants immediately to limit contamination of other plants. Many pea and bean varieties require no pollination.

    When to Harvest: Both beans and peas grow relatively quickly, sometimes producing fruit in less than two months. Depending upon the variety, pick them when the beans or pods reach the length stated on the seed package. Do not let them get too large or they will become tough.

  9. Mushrooms
  10. Growing kits make cultivation of fresh mushrooms easy. Low in fat, with plenty of fiber, protein, and potassium, mushrooms add great flavor to many dishes. They need little light, and grow in places not suitable for other plants.

    What It Needs:

    Consider purchasing a mushroom growing kit. Otherwise, you will need:

    • Straw (for oyster mushrooms)
    • Harwood sawdust (for shiitakes)
    • Composted manure (button mushrooms)
    • Purchased reliable mushroom spawn (usually impregnated in sawdust)
    • Sterilized growth medium
    • Large baking pan
    • Heating pad

    Things to Keep in Mind: Without a growing kit, producing mushrooms requires several steps. For the first three weeks or so, the pan must be kept warm, stored in a dark, moist environment. Then, it must be relocated to a dark, moist, cool area. Adequate moisture is required throughout the process.

    When to Harvest: About three weeks after transferring the pan to the cool dark location, small mushrooms will pop up. Let them grow in the dark, moist location until larger, then harvest, using a knife to cut them at the base.

Enjoying Your Harvest

You may be enjoying fresh produce in less than a couple of months! Always wash your produce prior to consuming, and store it properly (tomatoes should not go in the refrigerator, but mushrooms should). If you produce too much, share it with friends and neighbors, or consider learning how to preserve your harvest through freezing, canning, or drying. When it is time to replant, keep in mind the concept of crop rotation, and avoid growing plants in the same pot and soil as the previous “season.”

Gilberto Salazar Escoboza is extremely family orientated and has been married for 24 years. He was born and raised in Hermosillo, Mexico. Gilberto has been the General Director of Videxport ever since he took over the family business in 1987. He enjoys reading and writing about the latest trends in the produce industry.

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