Gardener Monica: Growing Vegetables Indoors

There are a couple of really great things about growing vegetables indoors during the winter. First, these fresh, home-grown veggies supplement your diet. Second, they provide good bacteria for your gut. Finally, it can be nice to have a bit of greenery inside during the snowy, darker months of the year. A bit of nature improves your mood!

If you think you might be interested, stay tuned! We will cover everything you need to know about growing vegetables indoors during this inhospitable time!

What Vegetables Can You Grow?


  * Potatoes

  * Broccoli

  * Spinach

  * Kale

  * Lettuce

  * Tomatoes (the smaller the better)

  * Onions

  * Carrots

  * Garlic

  * Beets

  * Cauliflower

  * Herbs

  * Peppers

  * Beans


  * Cucumbers

  * Pumpkins

  * Squash

  * Peas

  * Watermelon

  * Corn

  * Unmentioned melon varieties

What Must You Have For Growing Vegetables Indoors?

There are 5 factors that are key to being able to grow inside. These are light, humidity, growing method, circulation, and temperature.


You want to choose a place in your home that gets a consistent amount of light. In the winter it can be difficult, so growing lamps are an alternative. These can be found at your local DIY store, indoor garden specialty store, or online. Just be sure to do the conversions before purchasing. You want to make sure your plants are getting the right amount of light.

If you want vegetables that grow produce such as tomatoes, you will need a decent amount of light. Especially when compared to growing root veg, salad greens, and herbs. These lower light lovers do well when provided with a compact grow light up to 3.9 inches above the plant. Here are the differences between the different types of grow lights:

  * Fluorescent Lights – These are the easiest to find and most widely available at home improvement stores. Perfect for herbs and other low-light plants, they won’t provide enough light for flowering produce.

  * Compact Fluorescent Light Systems – These can be used very close to the plant, due to the lower heat output. This makes compacts perfect for small spaces. Not to mention they provide enough light for any and all vegetables you wish to grow!

  * Incandescent Lamps – These are what you typically imagine when you think of grow lights. Incandescent lamps are also very inexpensive and can also be purchased readily at DIY and garden shops. We don’t recommend these for an indoor vegetable garden. However, they are great for houseplants!

  * High Intensity Discharge Bulbs (HID) – These are the most expensive, but also the most energy efficient. HID’s are also the brightest of all of the lighting choices.

  * Metal Halide Bulbs – These are best used at the beginning of the growth process. However, once your vegetable begins to flower you will have to switch to one of the others.

The wattage of the bulb, the area square footage, and the height you place the grow light all contribute to your success. Here are our recommendations:

  * 400-Watt Bulb – Best for areas between 5x5 feet and 8x8 feet. Put these between 1 and 4 feet above the veggies.

  * 600-Watt Bulb – Best for areas between 7x7 feet and 10x10 feet. 600-Watts should be mounted 2 to 5 feet above. They can be closer if they are compact fluorescent light systems.

  * 1000-Watt Bulb – Best for areas between 8x8 feet and 12x12 feet. These should be placed between 2 and 6 feet above the crop.


You can’t discount the natural humidity produced by your home. In the summer, you may use a dehumidifier. However, the winter is different. During colder months, your home tends to dry out due to the heating system. That means you could end up with dried up vegetables!

The solution to the humidity problem is simple. Invest in a humidifier to put in the area where you decide to grow your edibles. One that blows cool mist wouldn’t be the worst thing, either. However, you can mist the plants once a day to make up for it. Or, fill a tray with fine rock and cover it with water. Set it by the plants to produce your own humidifier! Always plant close.


As with soil outdoors, the soil you use indoors must be healthy. What do we mean by healthy? The pH level must be appropriate for the type of vegetable you are growing. Not only that, but the soil needs nutrients from sources such as compost, manure, or organic fertilizer. We recommend purchasing potting mix as opposed to garden soil.

The best way to figure out your soil’s pH is to do a soil test. You can purchase these at nurseries, home improvement stores, or online. In addition, add nutrients to your soil the way you would to the soil outdoors. Just because your vegetables are inside doesn’t mean they don’t have the same needs!

The containers you plant inside should be chosen with the vegetable in mind. Deep-rooted produce needs more than a foot of soil. Shallow-rooted produce needs only about 4 inches soil.


By this we mean air circulation. This is important, because the natural circulation of air prevents fungi and mould from developing. Many homes differ in this regard. Unfortunately, not a lot of homes were designed with air circulation in mind. Log cabins are the exception.

To remedy a bad circulation situation, invest in a revolving fan. This will move the air around the room. When combined with a humidifier, your plants will have a pretty good chance of success!


Temperature is important, because too hot or too cold could ruin your crop. The temperature issues you may have depend upon where you decide to plant your vegetables. Regardless, keep them away from heat sources and window drafts.

If they are in the shed, garage, or other uninsulated area, freezing temperatures outside could freeze the veg inside. So, be careful. On the other hand, crops like tomatoes need an overnight temperature that drops below what would be found in a greenhouse. We recommend keeping the area between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

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