6 Fruits and Vegetables You Can Easily Grow Indoors

Growing your own fruits and vegetables is such a great idea on so many levels. You save money. You avoid pesticides and GMOs. You avoid contributing to the global warming emissions associated with the industrial food system. And you develop a skill that can be very useful if SHTF. Overall, growing your own food is generally better for you and the environment. And there's no denying the gastronomical high you get when eating something you grew yourself.

In his book The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan sounded a clarion call for picking up a spade and sowing some seed:

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.

And here's a bonus about growing your own: You don't need outdoor space. If you've got a sunny window (or grow lights), you're in business. There are many fruits and vegetables you can easily grow indoors. Here are six to get your green thumb going.

1. Avocados

You can grow an avocado tree from an avocado pit, but it may not yield edible fruit. A better bet is to buy a dwarf avocado plant. Repot it in a large pot with drainage holes, filling the bottom with sand and the rest with potting mix. Place it in the sunniest spot you have. Regular watering is good, but since avocado roots tend to get waterlogged, be careful not to overwater. Also, prune shoots regularly to promote a stronger plant and give it some airspace — they can grow more than 10 feet. (For more tips, click here.)

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Avocado plant (image: oliver.dodd/Flickr CC)

2. Carrots

Like avocados, carrots love sun, so find a sunny spot that has at least 8 hours of direct sun. Partial sun will work too, but they will grow slower. The best temperature range is 70-80F. Fill a pot with loose, sandy potting soil (not heavy garden soil) between 8-12 inches in depth, leaving 3 inches of headroom. Make sure it has good drainage. Sow the carrot seeds thickly about 1/4 inch below the surface. When the leaves grow 2 inches tall, thin the seedlings so that the remaining plants are about 1/2-1 inch apart. Watering with chamomile tea will help fight off fungus. (For more tips, click here.)

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Carrot seedlings (image: Brianna Privett/Flickr CC)

3. Lemons

Lemon trees can easily grow from a seed you get from the fruit, and they do well indoors in well-drained pots, but since they can grow up to 20 feet in height, you're better off buying a dwarf lemon tree, like the Meyer lemon. Use a slightly acid, peat moss-based all-purpose growing mix. Lemon trees like full sun, so southern exposure is the best. During the winter, they need 12 hours of light, so depending on your location, you may want to buy a grow light. (For more tips, click here.)

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Lemon trees (image: James Brown/Flickr CC)

4. Microgreens

Microgreens are a great indoor growing option. Start with a seed mix — mesclun, kale, Swiss chard, basil, radish and dill, for example — and sprinkle them over potting mix in a shallow tray and cover them with a thin layer of soil using a coarse wire-mesh sieve. Mist the soil with a spray bottle and place the tray on a sunny windowsill. Mist the soil daily to keep it moist. The seeds should germinate in 3-5 days, at which point they will need 12-14 hours of daily light. (For more tips, click here.)

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Microgreens - Day 8 (image: Karen and Brad Emerson/Flickr CC)

5. Tomatoes

You can grow a single tomato plant in a 6-inch pot. Plants seeds about 1/4 inch deep using starter mix. Water but don't make starter mix soggy. The seeds should germinate in 5-10 days. When the seedlings are 3 inches tall, transplant them into potting soil Horticulturist Robert Cox of the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension recommends the following tomato varieties for indoor growing: Pixie, Patio, Toy Boy, Small Fry or Tiny Tim. When the plants bloom, Cox says, "Tap the main stem and larger side branches with your finger. This moves the plant slightly and encourages pollination. As you tap the plant, you might see a small cloud of pollen falling from the open flowers." He also offers a great tip: "For a continuous winter supply, start one or two new plants from seed every two weeks." (For more tips, click here.)

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Tomato plants (image: rudy.kleysteuber/Flickr CC)

6. Mandarin Oranges

Mandarin oranges adapt well to being grown indoors in containers, particularly the Satsuna variety. You need a well-drained 30-gallon container for full-size mandarins, or a 20-gallon container for dwarf varieties. They prefer a full day of sun year-round and should be watered about twice a week. Also, they should be fertilized at least once a month with citrus-specific fertilizer. (For more tips, click here.)

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Mandarin orange tree (image: locrifa/Shutterstock.com)

No matter what fruits or vegetables you decide to grow indoors, once you start, you'll likely never stop. Good luck and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor.

Do you have any suggestions for growing fruits and vegetables indoors? Share them in the comments!


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