6 Crops for Indoor Gardens
Now that the cold, short days are upon us, most gardeners have fled their sleeping patch of soil and come inside to hibernate until March, when the ground will slowly taw and those precious, beautiful seeds will once again make their way into the beloved garden beds.
It is a time of for us gardeners to take a step back, feed our precious soil so that the next season is even better than the last through the slow process of biodegradation and most of all, replenish our energy so that we are ready to grow again with a new Spring.
If, like me, you dread those long, cold months, wandering aimlessly between frozen aisle filled with dark earth and covered protective mulch, then you need something to hold you over until the days are longer and the temperature more accommodating.
One surefire way to scratch that itch to just grow something is to build a greenhouse and move in from Halloween until Easter.
Yeah. I know! Wishful thinking? Probably!
If you can't build yourself a parallel world of greenery and move in, then you can always bring the fun inside to live with you.
And this leads us to the wonderful world of indoor gardens. Plenty of people around the world are familiar with the joys of growing houseplants and yet, I am always amazed at how few are actually growing plants they can also eat?
Maybe, like them, you are just too attached to their beloved succulents to take a bite out of them, but if this is the case for you, then I can assure you that snipping a few leaves from your parsley or snatch a branch from your cilantro.
In fact, they will love you all the more for it!
It should come as no surprise that of the 5 crops from my list that you can grow indoors, most are tame, polite little plants that should be happy to delight you with their beauty and taste while growing on your sunniest windowsill.
I won't incorporate any plants in this list that requires additional lighting, a grow tent or take over your entire living room. This doesn't mean those plants cannot be grown indoors - for they can - but only that since most gardeners do not have access to these resources or do not want to commit their entire space to them, then they don't make the list.
But go ahead if you want to be crazy! This plant mamma certainly has her fill of indoor plants to keep her busy all year long!
Why basil? Because I simply cannot live without it!
Basil is so fragrant, delicious and beautiful, just looking at it makes me smile. Luckily, basil is also one of the easiest and cheapest herbs one can grow indoors. The plants stay tidy and well behaved and are available in a wide variety of shape, colors and flavor, earning them the #1 spot on my list.
All your basil plant needs is a 6-12 inch pot, fertile, well draining soil and a sunny window to be happy. As a mediterranean plant, basil doesn't like to grow in wet, soggy soil, so keep your watering to once a week and your plants will love you for it.
Want ever more reasons to grow basil? The more you pick those delicious, fragrant leaves, the more your basil plant will grow!
Just take a look at a few examples of basil you can grow
Dwarf Greek Basil - a small leafed, full flavor variety that stays extra small and extra cute!
Purple Ruffles Basil - What is there more to say? A classic basil flavor with purple, ruffly leaves! There is no better edible ornamental in my book!
And many more. Love Asian cuisine? Try Siam Queen Basil for that licorice, extravagant flavor sure to boost your home cooked meals.
Not a fan of fancy? Go with the classic Italian Large Leaf Basil.
Want something exotic and rare? Corsican Basil is sure to intrigue and delight, with a slight licorice flavor and strong basil taste, it will elevate any dish as well as fascinate your guests with its bottled leaves.
Here I go again about the underappreciated merits of the humble, ubiquitous parsley!
But parsley, both its curled and flat leaf version, is truly one of the best crop to grow in a small garden. Indoor and outdoor!
Parsley is an easy plant to please and if one is patient enough to wait for the seeds to germinate - and patient enough to allow the timid seedlings some time to establish - then your parsley plant will be sure to pay you in kind.
Apart from the well known health benefits of including fresh and dried parsley in your daily diet, this simple herb can elevate a simple dish to a new level of elegance with only a few sprigs.
As a spectacularly cold-resistant plant, parsley will also be quite at home on your balcony or patio, right until the temperatures drop into the low 30 F and 20 F. What more can you ask for?
To grow your best parsley plants, provide them with a 12inch pot, fertile, well draining soil and a spot at your sunniest windowsill. They don't like to be kept too moist, but this is no reason to allow them to dry out completely. A nice drink once a week or whenever the leaves start to droop will keep them healthy.
If the name make you lift your eyebrows in confusion, be assured you are not alone! And it's a real shame.
Mitsuba is often referred to as Japanese Parsley and its taste and looks are similar. As an asian staple, Mitsuba is full of a parsley and celery flavor and sure to make your guests scratch their heads as they admire your exotic new "houseplant". The plants grows in rosettes from the center and produces lovely tri-lobed leaves atop a long stem, resembling a pointy clover.
This wonderful and virtually unknown shade loving herb grows easily indoors and even flowers, producing tiny, elegant blooms in about 9 months time under most indoor conditions.
All you need to grow this elegant, rare Japanese herb is a 12inch pot, fertile soil and a few hours of sunlight. It loves water, so don't leave it to dry out! Still, don't over it either. A simple watering twice a week should keep your plants healthy and producing loads of tasty leaves for your stir fries, soups and salads.
Mistuba or Japanese parsley - a shade loving, exotic herb that is easy to grow indoor
Who doesn't love the taste of fresh, crunchy lettuce leaves? Lettuce is a beloved staple on many people's tables and I seldom go a day without placing a large, colorful bowl in the center of mine for my family to enjoy.
It's also one the easiest, cheapest and most rewarding crop any gardener can grow - indoor, outdoor, in containers and in raised beds!
Virtually all lettuces grown in today's gardens are variation of a single plant, lactuca sativa. Can you believe this? All those beautiful shapes, colors and flavors, produced by the careful, loving selections of generations of gardeners!
Luckily, as beautiful and varied as lettuce plants are, they also have the same basic needs. Most will readily grow indoors against a sunny window if provided with fertile, well draining soil and kept evenly moist. A few watering a week is all it will take to produce the freshest salad possible, all for a few pennies!
Tom Thumb lettuce - a tiny gem easy to grow indoor in pots as small as 6inch!
Yes, I know. Another herb! Before you raise your arms and click away, hear this: herbs are truly the best choice for indoor gardens! Not only are they happy to grow under the relative low light conditions of most people's houses, but they are also the best choice when it comes to money saving.
Fresh herbs cost a lot of money in the store and do not keep fresh for long - justifying their high cost. By growing them in a few pots inside your home, you can add flavor to your every day meals for minimal cost. Who wouldn't like that?
Cilantro seedling - a delicacy as a microgreen!
Cilantro is easy to grow from seeds, perhaps even the easiest of all the crops on this list. For those of us who adore its taste, it probably merits the first position! Apart from delicious, fragrant leaves, cilantro also produces elegant, ethereal white flowers shaped as umbels.
All you need to grow great cilantro is a 6-12 inch pot, fertile, well draining soil and a sunny window. Cilantro is a cool-weather herb, so it will love you if you can keep it at an even 70 F or cooler. It also likes even moisture, going to seed faster if left to dry out or kept in too-hot conditions.
If this happens, do not be disappointed! The tiny, green cilantro seeds are in fact coriander! Those green delight are a rarity and a gourmet addition to your meals and if you don't collect them small - do not fret. Allow them to mature and dry out for homeground coriander! Just pop a few seeds back in the ground and the circle start brand new!