Growing edibles in a worthwhile endeavor for the home gardener. Growing them indoors in containers can be a bit of a challenge but, with the right lighting, you can harvest crops throughout the winter. Some edibles are even attractive as houseplants.
I’ve grown all sorts of edibles indoors over winter, some with luck and others not so much. It’s definitely been a learning experience. Here are some tips I’ve discovered along the way and I’m hoping it will help others wanting to grow food indoors too.
Growing Edibles Inside
What I’ve learned over the years is to choose plants you’ll grow carefully. Make sure it is worth the extra effort you’ll put into their overall care. Remember, the point of harvest is at hand. Growing fruits, herbs and vegetables inside may require extra room for containers in a sunny spot near the window. If you have access to a greenhouse, sunroom, or an enclosed porch, this is probably a good place to locate winter grown edibles.
Also, keep in mind that some crops can take cooler temperatures outside until about 50 degrees F. (10 C.), and a few can take more of a chill. Take advantage of this before you begin acclimating them into your indoor conditions. Cool season crops, such as spinach, beets, leaf lettuce varieties and broccoli are good candidates for winter growing. Microgreens grow even more quickly and are very nutritious.
Growing Citrus Trees Indoors
Fragrant and attractive, citrus trees are refreshing when grown inside the home. Of course, you’ll want to choose dwarf varieties of lemon, nectarine, lime and orange trees and grow them in pots outdoors until temperatures drop to 65 degrees F. (18 C.).
Citrus trees need five to six hours of full sun daily. Make the dwarf trees even more manageable with pruning, which may result in increased fruit supply, Locate these indoor edibles in a south window whenever possible.
If you’re growing citrus trees for the fruit, don’t start the tree from seed. Seed grown trees may take many years to mature and produce fruit. Purchase instead a dwarf fruit tree of your choice that is rooted onto an orange rootstock
Handy Herbs in the Kitchen
When you’re considering growing edibles indoors, what is more convenient that a kitchen herb garden? Having your favorite herbs at your fingertips might remind you to use them more often and spice up many dishes.
Many favorite herbs grow well as houseplants, with a summer vacation outside or to remain indoors year-round. Basil, chives and cilantro are easy to grow if you have the right light (six hours of sun and as much bright light as possible). Basil needs sun and warmth inside, provide temperatures in the 70’s. Thyme, mint, and parsley can grow with a little less lighting and might do fine in your west-facing window. Harvest herbs regularly to encourage growth.
Poor lighting can result in small leaves, stems too long between leaves, poor growth, and coloring that is not normal or is yellowing. If your windows don’t offer the needed light, consider adding a grow light. Keep your indoor herb garden out of drafts, from vents, from doors and windows.