There’s a reason gardeners look so serene while working. Nature tends to have a soothing effect on the mind. We love to see things grow and follow their natural cycles – it gives us a sense of stability. Even the smallest patch of green can unfurrow the brow and lighten the heart.
And a small patch might be all you get when you live the city life. But that’s more than enough – nature, as they say, finds a way!
There is a limited but diverse number of plants that you can grow at home. But more than sunlight or water, you might be concerned about the space they take up. After all, a home garden shouldn’t make your house feel smaller – quite the opposite. Choosing the right plants with the right requirements for your home and climate is crucial to success.
Time to harvest: 1 to 2 months
Space requirements: 3 to 5 gallons
Radishes are perfect for beginner indoor gardeners. They’re hardy, easy to care for and grow pretty fast. Radishes also go great with salads where you might mix in some of your other homegrown vegetables as well.
Make sure the soil is rich and well drained. Depth is also a consideration – the bulb itself isn’t very large, but the roots can still dig farther down.
Time to plate: 1 to 2 months
Pot size: 1 gallon
Green onions are the plant that keeps on giving. One of the easiest of all indoor vegetables, green onions can be planted as soon as you’re done with lunch! Before cutting them up for eating, leave aside the last inch of the tip, where the roots attach. Plop it into a small container with at least half an inch of water for the first few days while their leaves start to grow back. After that, you can move them to a pot to develop further. Once you’ve eaten it – remember to keep the tip again – you’re ready to plant the next crop!
Onions also come in many varieties, but the tastes are harder to tell apart when they’re in their “green” state. Still, you might find it fun to try out various types. For example, torpedo onions, much like their namesake, do better when there is plenty of moisture.
Time to harvest: 2 months
Pot size: 7 to 10 gallons
These cheerful miniature vegetables also come in tons of varieties and tastes to experiment with. Black plum, Yellow Pear, Super Snow White, Sungold, Pearly Pink and Napa Rose are just a few of them, and if you already feel your mouth watering, this little vegetable is for you.
When it comes to cherry tomatoes, and even tomatoes in general, the most important thing is to make sure they have plenty of sunlight – no north-facing windows, shades or blinds for this plant. Give them as much direct sunlight as you can, and make sure the soil doesn’t dry out.
Time to harvest: 2 months
Pot size: 6 gallons
Basil is one of those plants that makes or breaks recipes. The tomato sauce on our pizza just isn’t the same without it. You can eat the leaves raw, you can dry them out and make ground basil, or you can even make basil infused oil!
Basil is a little trickier to grow, as it requires constant moisture with good drainage and tons of sunlight. If you’re planting them outside in a small garden, make sure to have a layer of sand above the soil to prevent slugs from eating the plants. They love the leaves, and who can blame them?
Time to harvest: 2 months
Pot size: 3 gallons
Kale is the backbone of any great tasting and healthy salad and therefore should not be absent from your home garden. It’s not particularly fussy and grows fast, as long as it has enough space to dig its roots.
Keep the soil nutrient rich by adding a little fertilizer once a month and make sure it’s drained properly. Sunlight is also very important for kale – there’s a reason it has those huge tasty leaves after all! At least 6 hours per day will keep your kale happy and make for a great salad together with some of the other entries on this list.
Time to harvest: 2 months
Pot size: 10 to 15 gallons
Plants that climb have their own special charm. Not only is their upward journey fun to observe, but you can also use them to shade parts of a balcony or window, thus providing you and your shade-loving plants with a natural shelter away from direct sunlight.
The climbing surface can be just about anything that they can wrap around – a stick, a string, a trellis or even a discarded broom handle. Green beans grow relatively fast, which makes the process even more interesting; just make sure they get plenty of sunlight and that the soil doesn’t dry out.
Time to harvest: 2 to 3 months; hot peppers can take twice as much
Pot size: 3 to 5 gallons
Peppers are similar in some ways to cherry tomatoes. They grow well in abundant sunlight and come in many varieties. Here’s where it gets interesting – not only can you experiment with colors and shapes, but with different levels of spiciness too! You can even make your own homebrewed hot sauce, tailored exactly to your taste buds.
Not only is care similar to cherry tomatoes, but the two species also grow well together. Peppers have evolved capsaicin (the burning substance we perceive as the spiciness or “hotness”) to fend off parasites, so bugs will usually avoid them and whatever is close by.
Time to harvest: 3 to 4 months
Pot size: at least 10-15 inches deep
Did you know orange isn’t the only color a carrot can have? You can find all sorts of interesting shades, from white to dark violet. Carrots are, therefore, not only hardy plants and healthy food, but they’re also fun to experiment with. Try growing several varieties or colors and see which one does best!
Carrots need deeper soil than many plants, so make sure your pots can accommodate this. Keeping sunlight and humidity at an even level will ensure the best results.
Time to harvest: 8 months after flowers bloom
Pot size: from 5 gallon to 25-30 gallon as plant grows
Sure, lemon trees can easily grow inside and give you a bountiful harvest. But what if you want something sweeter? Try mandarin oranges. They’re smaller than regular oranges, much easier to peel and the taste is heavenly. You might even eat your entire harvest in one sitting!
Since mandarin oranges grow on a tree, you’ll need a big pot for those roots to spread out. You’ll also need a lot of patience. These plants usually require at least three to five years to reach the fruiting stage. But don’t worry – the longer the wait, the sweeter the taste.
Time to harvest: varies wildly by species, from a few weeks to a few months
Pot size: size and type of container depends greatly on species
Technically not plants and technically not something you’d need a balcony for, mushrooms prefer damp, dark spaces. A basement is probably more suitable for most species, but make sure to research this when choosing a type. Some of the best gourmet mushrooms for growing at home are white button, oyster, shiitake and portobello. Once you choose one, make sure you buy spawn rather than spores, as they’re easier for beginners.
Some can be grown in pots, but you’ll often find recommendations like growing them straight out of a sack or a bucket filled with substrate. Composting can be extremely useful here – banana peels, coffee grounds and food scraps may be waste to us, but it’s perfect for them to grow in. Of course, this means your mushroom garden can become quite messy, so make sure to free up some dedicated space in your home for them.
Bring Some Zen To Your Home
Indoor gardening can be an amazingly effective way to unwind and relieve stress. To make every step of the process as pleasant as possible, organize your tools and materials well.
The best way to go about this is to have an area dedicated to potting, the messiest part of the process. Putting newspapers on the floor is a low-tech way to do it, but having a special space to plant sprouts and repot plants is better. Additionally, the floor should be easy to clean and drain.
Since limited space is often the reason we do indoor gardening in the first place, having a work area might be a challenge. Consider freeing up some room for this purpose by clearing away items in your home that you don’t use as often. Donating and selling are always great options, except for when you have things that you know you’ll need later, like seasonal wear and decorations.
In that case, the most affordable option is a self storage unit. A quick search for storage facilities will reveal that there are many sizes you can rent, depending on how much free space you need for your new nature corner.
CAUTION! You may have heard about using a storage unit as a garden, especially for mushrooms which do not need sunlight. Be aware that growing plants in a storage unit is usually not permitted – in some cases it’s even illegal – and can lead to numerous problems for yourself and other tenants. Make sure to ask the storage facility first.