No outdoor space? No problem. Windowsill salad is easy to grow! 

By Melissa Kravitz
May 13, 2021
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As victory gardens bloom for their second spring, home cooks without outdoor space or a proper gardening plot may look on with envy. The satisfaction of slicing through a tomato you've nourished since sprouthood, or garnishing a dish with basil you've watched grow tall in the sunlight is unparalleled. But you don't need a large green space, greenhouse, or even much of a green thumb to grow your own veggies, fruits, and herbs indoors. Anything with a shallow root system (think lettuce, not a whole carrot, which grows deeply in the ground) can potentially grow well indoors. Beyond your windowsill herb garden, here are a few excellent ingredients to start growing indoors, all under your own roof.

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Lettuce

According to the Million Gardens Movement, lettuce is a great green to grow indoors, because the plant has shallow root systems that don’t need large containers. Lettuce can be grown in any container that’s at least six inches deep, and you don’t need to worry about rabbits munching on it outside! Bibb, leaf, romaine, and more types of lettuce can all be grown from seeds or pre-potted plants, but if you’re serious about harvesting salad in the kitchen, consider splurging on a device designed to replace your need for the produce aisle. A smart garden LED set sits on kitchen countertops while LettuceGrow’s hydroponic plant stand doubles as decor. 

Microgreens

Apartment dwellers short on space can grow microgreens indoors to add a fresh, crisp bite to any savory dish. Only two inches of soil is needed (try using a an upcycled egg carton or cut off the lower part of a quart of milk) to successfully grow these flavor-packed babies. Keep soil moist, and harvest with kitchen scissors as needed. 

Citrus

You don’t need an orchard to grow citrus indoors. Pick a sunny area and install a potted lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit tree. Citrus.com sells several varieties ready for shipping. Expect fresh scents in the area surrounding your tree (hopefully somewhere with a lot of sunlight) and try not to overwater as you get eager for your fresh fruit to grow to peel-worthy status. Opt for a variety that self pollinates, like Meyer lemons, unless you happen to bunk with a bee colony. 

Peppers

Small peppers, like chilis, are perfect for sunny indoor spaces. And not only does their color look like a decorative houseplant, their uses are infinite. Grow peppers to use as garnish, make your own hot sauces, or even dry them for decor or to pulverize into homemade seasoning. Plant in pots that have good drainage. 

Spring Onions

If you’ve used social media in the pandemic era, it’s likely you’ve already seen some homegrown spring onions. They’re easy to grow completely for free, using scraps to revive the plant. Keeping the roots attached, cut off the ends of the bulbs and add them to a jar with water. Change the water every few days and watch your spring onions revive! Trim when you’re ready to eat, and keep growing.

Strawberries

Strawberries are a popular indoor plant, grown in either pots or hanging containers. Some hesitate to grow the fruit indoors, as it can attract fruit flies, but having fresh fruit nearly year-round is definitely a perk. Germinate strawberry seeds in moist, shallow soil, or simplify your indoor strawberry garden by purchasing plants and repotting. Keep the soil moist, but not drenched, and be sure the plants have plenty of drainage.

Peas

Yep, peas are perfect for your indoor veggie harvest. Snow peas and dwarf peas both work well for year-round growing and don’t need much care other than biweekly watering. You’ll likely need some dowels to support the plants. Be ready to harvest the veggies as soon as they're ready, and consume them at peak freshness! Gingery pea and cucumber salad, anyone?

Squash

Clear some space, you’re growing a squash bush! If you have a corner or side area that needs some lush greens, consider growing zucchini, patty pan, or even acorn or butternut squash indoors. Germinate seeds from a squash you’ve just eaten, or skip a step by buying the plants and following the care guides. 

Bananas

Turn your living room into a tropical oasis with the help of a dwarf banana tree! The grafted plants can be purchased online and need regular misting to replicate the humidity of their preferred climate. Expect the edible fruits to grow in clusters, which will be appealing to look at before they’re ready to split. 

Mushrooms

If you have extra surfaces to rest a log or small bag on, you can grow fungi in even the most cramped of indoor spaces! A wide range of mushroom growing kits rely on just a spritz of water to get going, and can be decorative, like this Shiitake Mushroom Growing Log, or more rustic, like the mushroom growing bags from North Spore. Freshly harvested mushrooms are perfect for the grill, risotto, or even in a gift bag for a unique present!