Perhaps you’ve no outside space to grow in? Or you’re not sure if you’ll enjoy growing and you just want to test the water? Maybe you’re a keen gardener and the winter months seem dreary compared to the frenzy of activity in the summer? Is it time to set up and grow indoors to get a delicious variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in every season.
A windowsill will do for a growing zone if it’s south facing and gets plenty of light throughout the day. Otherwise, you’ll have to set up a growing light if you want happy plants and a decent crop. Look out for LED grow lights – these are by far the most energy efficient and won’t get hot to the touch if the kids are helping you out. Hang your grow light above your growing area so you’ll be able to raise it as the plants get taller. You may also want to put plastic underneath your seedlings to protect from stray watering!
So, what plants can you grow indoors? Herbs, dwarf vegetables and greens all do well if the right varieties are chosen.
Herbs to grow indoors
A classic indoor plant is herbs. Look to your favourite recipes when deciding. What’s the point of growing chives if you aren’t going to eat it? Have twenty-five basil plants if pesto floats your boat! It’s completely up to you.
Coriander, basil, flat leaf and curly parsley, oregano, thyme and chives are all easy to grow from seed if you keep the soil warm and moist. Don’t be cautious when using the leaves – regular trims will encourage vigorous growth.
Cherry-type tomato varieties work well by a bright window and can even grow upside down from a hanging planter to leave more space for other mini-crops. Look out for Tiny Tim, Micro Tom or Red Robin seeds.
Look for dwarf vegetables that are proven to withstand cooler conditions. Try growing baby carrots, beetroot and radishes. There is even a little tiny pea variety called Tom Thumb that produces delicious sweet peas in only four to five weeks.
Chilli peppers are another indoor staple and can be very productive given the right conditions – they love the heat!!! Apache, Demon Red, Prairie Fire and Patio Sizzle are varieties that do well on a windowsill.
Leaf lettuces, Tom Thumb head lettuce, watercress and spinach are good indoor growers and all pack a vitamin punch. To get some flavour into your salads, why not try a spicy or Italian blend of leaf lettuce seeds?
Plant your seeds out in a specialised potting soil. Don’t use soil from the garden. No need to buy specialised seeding trays – this is a great chance to reuse yoghurt pots or you can even cut the bottoms off Tetra Paks to make a pot. Remember to push small holes into the bottom for drainage.
When all your seeds are planted, create a ‘humidity dome’ to keep them warm and moist whilst they germinate. Another reuse opportunity! Put a see-through plastic bag over each section or cut plastic bottles in half and cover each seedling.
Move the plants into the light when you see a sprout. A spray bottle is handy to keep the soil damp, without disturbing the delicate seedlings. When your plants outgrow their containers move to larger pots very carefully to avoid damaging the roots.
Now all that remains to do is to water regularly and watch them grow! Repeat your planting at six- eight week intervals to ensure a continuous supply.