Fruits and Vegetables You Can Grow Indoors Year Round
With good light and smaller varieties, you can continue to successfully grow vegetables and some fruits after you've put your outdoor garden to bed.
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Choose smaller tomato varieties, plant them in a big container, and give them lots of light and water. Run a fan nearby or shake them gently when they’re in bloom to help pollinate the flowers.
Varieties like ‘Veranda Red,‘ that grow only 12 inches tall, are good choices, but will still require staking to keep them from flopping over. Tomatoes need lots of nutrients to grow their best, so remember to regularly add a general purpose fertilizer.
Thai hot peppers, which grow up to 12 inches tall, can be grown indoors. The peppers likely won’t get as big as those grown outdoors, but will still have the same amount of heat.
You can start indoor pepper plants from seeds. Or buy small plants in the spring, grow them in a container outdoors in the summer, then bring them indoors before frost. Peppers do best in larger containers, about 12 inches across, and in good light. Keep them well-watered and fertilize regularly.
The ‘Meyer’ lemon is one of the most popular citrus trees grown indoors for fruit.
When purchasing a lemon plant, start it in a container a bit larger than the one it came in. As the tree grows, gradually increase the size of the pot. A well-grown tree could need a rather large pot. Keep that in mind if you plan to move your lemon tree outdoors in the summer and back inside in the winter.
When grown inside, give lemons plenty of light — say, from a south-facing window. As with many fruits and vegetables grown indoors, you’ll need to hand-pollinate flowers to get fruit to form. Swipe some pollen onto a small brush, then dab it onto the center of the same flower.
Strawberries, especially alpine strawberries, are a good choice for growing indoors. They’re a smaller day-neutral fruit and will flower regardless of how long or short the days are. Grow strawberries in hanging baskets to allow the “runners” a place to hang down from the main plant.
Give strawberries lots of light and keep them well-watered. When planting, the crown, where all the leaves grow from, should be just above the soil line to avoid rotting. Flowers require hand-pollinating.
You can also winterize your outdoor strawberry plants.
If you have a lot of space for a big container, you can grow a bush-type cucumber, like ‘Bush Champion.’ Plan on supplemental lighting, because it will need plenty. Keep it well-watered and fertilize regularly.
When it flowers, you’ll need to hand-pollinate because most cucumbers have separate male and female flowers. To do this, swipe some pollen from a male flower, which will be attached by a thin stem. Then brush the pollen onto a female flower. The female flower will have a little bulge at the base of the flower that will become the cucumber.
If you have lots of room, good light and support for the vines, you can also grow a variety like ‘Socrates.‘ It’s parthenocarpic, meaning it doesn’t produce seeds and doesn’t need to be pollinated to produce fruit.
Many people grow lettuce indoors using a hydroponic system like this one from AeroGarden. These products come with lights and a reservoir for water, plus ready-to-go seed pods. You can also grow lettuce in a large bowl-shaped planter using your own lights and seeds.
Choose a mesclun mix which includes several varieties of leaf lettuce. Many lettuces and other salad greens will continue to grow as long as you harvest just the outer leaves.
Basil is easy to grow from seed and makes a nice plant to put on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights. You can grow basil in smaller containers, down to four-inch pots. They’ll grow big enough for each plant to give you a few leaves for flavoring a salad or other favorite dishes.
Popular varieties include ‘Genovese‘ and ‘Emerald Towers.‘ Sow a few seeds in a pot, thin out to one or two seedlings, and let them continue to grow. If your plant dies out, you can always start more seedlings with fresh potting soil.
Radishes grow quickly, often taking just 30 days from planting to harvest. They’re easily started from seed and don’t require a big container. All this makes them a fun vegetable to grow indoors in bright light or under grow lights.
Grow them in any container at least five to six inches deep, and wide enough to avoid crowding. Sow seeds for varieties like ‘Cherry Belle‘ or ‘Easter Egg‘ and keep them evenly moist. Radishes are ready to harvest when you can see the tops of the roots.
Scallions, aka green onions, can be grown from seed indoors, or from kitchen scraps! Sow seeds for varieties like ‘Tokyo Long White’ in a medium-sized container, and thin seedlings so they’re about one inch apart. The thinned-out seedlings are good to eat, too, and can be used for flavoring.
The seedlings will flourish if you keep the soil evenly moist and grow them under lights. Harvest when they’ve reached the size you prefer.
Microgreens are among the easiest plants to grow indoors. Nutritious and flavorful, they can be harvested in as little as 10 days.
Start small with a 4- by 4-in. container that’s a few inches deep. Fill with about an inch of potting soil, then sow seeds thickly on top, barely covering with soil. Cover the container to keep out light.
Once the seeds sprouted, uncover the container and place it under lights. When you see the beginnings of the first true leaves, harvest by cutting them off just above the soil. Be sure to buy seeds labeled as microgreens to ensure they’ll produce something edible that hasn’t been treated with a fungicide.