There’s nothing more satisfying than harvesting crops you proudly grew with your own hands. Nor is there any flavor that compares to sweet, juicy ‘maters fresh from the garden or the aromatic spice of an atypical garlic variety. Contrary to what you may think, you don’t need a large backyard or perfect soil conditions to grow delicious homegrown produce. All you really need is a sunny porch, balcony or windowsill to get your home garden started. These ten veggies will grow happily in indoor containers — all while brightening up your home and enhancing your culinary and dietary endeavors.
There are about a dozen cultivars of garlic, each one more flavorful and unique than the last. Unfortunately, the grocery store doesn’t always offer interesting varieties like the oven-friendly purple garlic, the spicy Asiatic garlic, or the all-around robust Rocambole garlic. The good news is, you can still try all these fascinating varieties by growing them yourself. Garlic is perfectly suitable for container life, with shallow roots and stalks that grow only up to two feet.
Plant your garlic cloves or seeds at least 2″-3″ deep and 3″-6″ apart in a container at least 18″ deep. Garlic loves plenty of water, but it is also prone to fungal disease at the root. Make sure the containers have drainage holes, and use only well-draining soil. You can usually find “soil-less” potting mix at the gardening store, or create a fibrous mixture from regular soil, mulch or nut husks.
Garlic needs at least 6 hours of direct light per day and regular watering. They are ready to harvest when the lower half of the leaves are brown. To harvest, dig up the bulbs and snip off the stalk. Then, cure the garlic by hanging it out to dry for 3-4 weeks in a cool, dark space. After this, the garlic will last 4 to 6 months, plenty of time to make your favorite Italian sauces and Asian curries.
Tomatoes are a classic garden veggie, beloved for their bright and cheery color, sweet juices bursting with electrolytes, and versatility and omnipresence in recipes. Tomatoes are one of the most productive veggies to grow in pots, as long as you match the size of the container to the type of tomato. Larger tomato varieties will naturally need larger pots. However, smaller cultivars, like cherry tomatoes, Micro Toms, Glacier or Atlas Hybrid, will do just fine in hanging baskets or 12″-deep containers with stakes. Make sure to research the maturity size of your chosen tomato variety before buying its containers.
Once you have your containers picked out, make sure to place them in an area with at least 8 hours of sunlight. If you don’t get that much sunlight, stick to the smaller tomato varieties. They also require good drainage and constant moisture. However, be consistent about watering them once or twice a day to prevent symptoms of rot. To harvest, simply pluck the tomato fruit off the stem and store it on a sunny windowsill.
Hot peppers, sweet peppers, bell peppers — oh my! There are so many types of peppers to choose from, and they will all work well in a container garden. Plus, they will undoubtedly brighten up the home with their vibrant range of colors. Hot peppers like jalapeños, habaneros, Thai and chili are compact enough to grow in a small pot, while sweet peppers like confetti hybrid and jungle parrot grow well in a standard 12″ pot.
Though peppers are annual plants, they are an excellent crop to focus on during summertime, especially if you have a balcony or porch. These hot climate lovers require at least 6 hours of full-spectrum sunlight and temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They also need daily watering, but be careful not to overwater them. Peppers are generally ready for harvest when they have changed to their color of maturity. Bell peppers can be plucked while green or left on the stem until they turn yellow, orange or red.
Green onions, or scallions, are a must-have garnish with a kick and a key ingredient in sauces, pancakes, salads and more. Green onions are one of the easiest plants to grow in an indoor pot. Since they take up little space, they can be planted densely alongside one another in a small 6-8″-deep pot. Preferring the warmth of indoors, scallions are happy enough in a windowsill getting at least 4 hours of sunlight and aren’t too prone to disease or pests. Green onions require similar soil conditions as garlic — anything light, loamy and well-draining. A highly convenient plant to have on hand, green onions only need the bulb to be able to grow and can be snipped repeatedly as needed.
Unlike many other types of vegetables, radishes can be harvested for their leafy greens as well as for their spicy roots. Like green onions, radishes don’t require much to be prolific. They don’t take up much space, growing well year-round in small containers about 4-6″ deep, and they mature quickly in under a month. Radishes prefer cooler temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, which you can control by growing them in cooler seasons, keeping them indoors, or watering them consistently until damp. Their favorite soil is not too compact and doesn’t require fertilizer. To harvest radish greens, snip the desired amount of leaves at the base and wash with water. To harvest the root, brush away the dirt at the base of the greens to determine its size. Make sure it meets the appropriate maturity size for its variety before entirely uprooting.
Container gardening is a convenient option for those who don’t have the space or physical ability to manage an outdoor garden. Plus, it may even be more manageable than traditional gardening, considering the greater degree of control over elements like weather conditions, pests, light exposure (if using growing lights) and temperature. As a result, any amateur gardener, chef or food lover can experience the immense pleasure of growing and eating one’s own fresh produce.