Americans have started gardening again, in large part because of the pandemic and recent economic downturn.
The reasons are twofold: for stress relief and for food.
And while many have adequate outdoor space to plant or keep a container garden, a significant number of people do not – think apartment and condo dwellers.
That leaves only the great indoors.
Googling “growing vegetables or edible plants indoors” elicits myriad posts that claim you can “easily” grow anything from avocados to tomatoes in your home or small apartment.
That might be stretching it.
How do you define inside?
After all, we’re talking about growing plants by the window or on the windowsill, and not in, say, greenhouses and solariums.
And last we checked, many apartments don’t come with washers or dryers, let alone solariums.
Also, how do you define grow?
“There’s a difference between what you can technically grow indoors and what you can successfully grow indoors,” says P. Allen Smith, host of “P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Table” on PBS and author of several books on gardening.
“Are we looking for the effort or the results? I’m looking for results.”
So, yes, you can technically grow an avocado or tomato plant in your apartment. But if you’re thinking of supplementing your guacamole habit by growing them inside your small space, think again.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t grow anything edible indoors.
If you want to nurture something under your roof that you can eat without investing in specialized equipment like grow lights, you just have to think about greens.
Greens are higher yield and lower maintenance, with only a few simple wants and needs: adequate light, water and a comfortable environment.
As for light, “it’s a fine balance,” says Smith. “You want a lot, but not too much.”
Of course, it depends where you’re located geographically and where your windows face.
For factors like humidity and temperature, you don’t have to overthink it. “If you’re comfortable, then the plant is comfortable,” he says.
So if you decide to venture into growing edible plants that are cost-effective without being time-consuming, we recommend starting with the following:
Sprouts and microgreens
Arguably the easiest edible plant you can grow on your windowsill or counter — anything from wheatgrass to alfalfa to soybeans.
Not only are they good for you, but they’re also a great healthy way to introduce gardening to children.
Think of what gives your food and drink some kick.
Parsley, oregano, basil and lemongrass all work. And unlike outdoor herbs, they can be grown year-round.
Green onions can be grown by placing bulbs in water and setting them on a windowsill. Just trim from the top as needed.
One added bonus with all of these plants: They’re also ornamental, a big plus when planting in a small space.
“The beautiful thing about doing lettuces and herbs is that they’re pretty,” says Smith. And harvesting is easy: “Just clip them off and throw them in a salad or whatever you’re doing.”