There are a whole bunch of vegetables and herbs you can grow indoors any time of year. I’ve tested a bunch of different seeds and I’ll show you which ones worked best for me. If I’d known it would be this easy, I would have started years ago.
Since I first wrote this post, a new book I recommend has been published. I’ve written about it here: Indoor Kitchen Gardening.
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What Happens Outdoors Happens Indoors
I never imagined saying this: it’s -25C outside in the middle of winter and I have bolting spinach.
If you’re new to growing veggies, ‘bolting’ is premature flowering and a basic survival mechanism for some plants. But, unfortunately, bolted veggie plants become bitter-tasting so it’s something to avoid if possible if you want to enjoy a nice, long harvest.
Bolting is always going to happen with some plants outdoors, but I had no idea until now it could happen indoors as well.
This is the first time I’ve had my indoor seed-growing shelves in a warmer part of our home (the dining room) instead of the basement (where it’s colder) which may be part of the reason why some of the crops bolted. They would prefer cooler temps and less light.
But, most of the plants have done very well. I’ll give you a list of my top recommendations and which ones to avoid.
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Books for Getting Started
Here’s My Experience
Overall, the mixed salad greens have been perfect (juicy and absolutely delicious—shown here in these first two images).
Some of the spinach was fine at first but then bolted, as mentioned.
Here’s what bolted spinach looks like:
I planted everything in 4″ pots with organic growing medium suitable for food crops [see my setup here].
You can grow a fair amount of salad greens in these little pots, plus they are ‘cut and come again‘ which means you can clip off some leaves and more will grow in their place several times over.
TIP: Make sure any container mix you use is specifically intended for veggies: it is not safe to use flower potting mix with chemical fertilizers and other additives.
Related: How to Grow Herbs Indoors
Indoor Veggie Growing: What Worked and What Didn’t
If you want to see a list of veggies you can try growing indoors, they are listed here.
- Mesclun Mix [see it on Amazon.com]- includes red and green leaf lettuces, plus a variety of other greens including Arugula, Osaka Purple mustard, spicy Cress, Red Russian kale, and Très Fin endive.
- Peas – Oregon giant (snow peas)
- Peas – Alaska
- Radish – Scarlet globe
- Swiss chard
- Tomato– Plum Lemon (all of the tomatoes are still growing and have not fruited yet)
- Tomato – Tiny Tim
- Tomato – Sweet Cherokee hybrid
- Microgreens – see how to grow them here
- Arugula – the Arugula in the Mesclun Mix did fine but on its own it tended to dry out quickly. Very odd.
- Spinach – Tyee and Bloomsdale – both tasted great early on (you can eat them any time) but bolted prematurely from too much heat/light.
- Lettuce – Red Royal – did not germinate
- Peas – Green Arrow – poor growth
Overall it’s working well and I’m going to keep them growing in the dining room since it’s so handy. I will keep starting new batches of seeds every few weeks so I have what I need until outdoor veg growing season begins.
- Favourite Seed Companies for Organic Gardeners (these are some of my faves—it’s ideal to find ones in your area)
- Indoor Kitchen Gardening by Elizabeth Millard (recommended how-to book)
- Using Fluorescent Lights for Indoor Seed Starting and Food Growing – what I use and recommend (it’s not expensive)
- List of Veggies You Can Grow Indoors – see all of the possibilities
- If you love houseplants, here are some of my favourite resources for information and ideas.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛