Indoor Container Gardening: 3 Spring Vegetables to Start Growing Now

Friday, April 28, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
I don't have a lot of room to garden. Just two windowsills (and one of them is in my parents room!). That's why I created this indoor container gardening series: For people who don't have access to balconies or yards! Even in books and articles on container gardening I'll see the reference to "putting your plants outdoors" or "transferring plants outside" at some point. Not here! This series is specifically designed to talk about plants that will flourish indoors in a container and stay there. Welcome to part two: Spring vegetables.
My first post in this series was about spring herbs. If you'd like to see the first article in this series, I got you covered. But if not, stick around because we're going to cover spring vegetables this time around. Specifically spinach, carrots, and arugula. These all grow great in containers, and I really want to encourage everyone to get their hands in the soil (even if you don't have a backyard).
Just so you know, I'll be publishing more posts in this series once a month now through August. Next month will feature spring fruits, just a heads up! More than likely, expect these posts towards the end of the month. I publish every Friday, so be sure to look for the next one around May 26th!

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Spinach

Spinach is a great plant for indoor container gardening. I'm actually growing some now! I planted them a few weeks ago and they're doing really well. Just follow my tips and you'll be able to grow spinach too. Also, spinach is great to add to just about anything: Salads, soups, sandwiches, side dishes, or even to rice dishes. Personally, I love spinach and artichoke dip (artichokes are also in season right now, FYI), so there's an idea.
You will need:
  • Spinach seeds (preferably organic)
  • 6 inch clay pot with drainage hole
  • Organic potting soil (I got mine at Home Depot)
  • A dish, saucer, or tray to place under pot (to capture any water leaked out of drainage hole)
  • Sunny window (South, west, or east facing windows are best)
Directions:
  1. Fill your 6-inch clay pot with your organic potting soil.
  2. Now add some seeds to your soil. I recommend no more than 4 seeds per pot. Give them their space too: Seeds should be about 6 inches apart, so two at the left of the pot and two at the right.
  3. Now cover the seeds with some more soil, about 1/2 inch deep (in other words, don't bury them). Transfer the pot over to your chosen windowsill. Over the next few days, water by gently misting the soil, instead of with a watering can. Personally, I don't even use a watering can: I use an upcycled glass bottle. It's easier to water plants this way because there aren't several watering holes (just one) so I have better control over my watering.
  4. Watering: You should start to see sprouts within 8-10 days: Now you can use your watering can (or for me, my upcycled glass bottle - which I painted and made look all pretty by the way). Make sure you water around the sprouts, not on them (sprouts are very fragile and you don't want them bending in awkward ways!). Water ONLY when the soil at the top is dry to the touch.  Spinach loves water so make sure to water daily!
  5. Transplanting: You might have to transplant one or two of your spinach sprouts to a new container, if you'd like them to have more room or get really big. Totally up to you.
  6. Sunlight: Spinach also need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Essentially, that means I don't even bother moving them away from my windowsill. If you see them reaching for the sunlight, rotate the pot to make sure they're getting sunlight evenly on all sides.
  7. Harvesting: To harvest some spinach leaves, simply snip off the leaves you'd like to take. This encourages new growth. You could also take the entire plant if you'd like.  

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Carrots
Carrots. The perfect spring time vegetable. I don't know why, but I can't stay mad when I look at a carrot. If that makes you laugh, then good, but I'm being dead serious. There's a cute, positive energy to carrots I absolutely love. Maybe it's because bunnies love them so much. Hey, they are pretty tasty! That said, growing carrots indoors is pretty easy. I've grown some in the past. I will say this about them: You have to have a deep container, not so much a wide one. They grow downward, after all, so it's important you give them loooots of wiggle room. They make great additions to salads, soups, side dishes, and even just as snacks (dipped in humus).
You will need:
  • Carrot seeds (preferably organic - make sure you get a miniature variety too. These are best for containers.)
  • 6 inch deep (or more) clay pot with drainage hole
  • Organic potting soil (I got mine at Home Depot)
  • A dish, saucer, or tray to place under pot (to capture any water leaked out of drainage hole)
  • Sunny window (South, west, or east facing windows are best)
Directions:
  1. Fill your 6-inch deep clay pot with your organic potting soil. Since carrots need a lot of room to grow their roots, you might even want a deeper pot than that (depends on the variety you try growing). I suggest growing a variety of carrot that's smaller. This won't take up as much pot space. Here are the ones I like to use (they have 4 inch roots, so make sure your container can accommodate that).
  2. Now add some seeds to your soil. I recommend spacing them 3 inches apart. Try not to add too many, depending how big the width of your pot is. I usually add about 4 or 5 to one pot.
  3. Now cover the seeds with some more soil, about 1/2 inch deep (in other words, don't bury them). Transfer the pot over to your chosen windowsill. Over the next few days, water by gently misting the soil, instead of with a watering can.
  4. Watering: You should start seeing sprouts within 7-14 days: Now you can use your watering can (or for me, my upcycled glass bottle). Make sure you water around the sprouts, not on them (sprouts are very fragile and you don't want them bending in awkward ways!). Water ONLY when the soil at the top is dry to the touch. I recommend watering once daily so the carrots get as much moisture as possible, but don't overdo it.
  5. Sunlight: Carrots also need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Essentially, that means I don't even bother moving them away from my windowsill. If you see their leafy greens reaching for the sunlight, rotate the pot to make sure they're getting sunlight evenly on all sides.
  6. Harvesting: Knowing when carrots are ready for harvest is a bit tricky. All you can see are their leafy greens. Generally speaking though, they should be ready to harvest within 68 days (or at least the seeds I used were). Make sure to look at the seed packet you're using: It should say when to expect them to be done. When that time comes, just pull the carrots out from the soil and brush off the dirt. Wash them off using cold water only before you're ready to use them.

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Arugula


Arugula is one of my favorite plants, like ever. I love it in salads, but mostly I love it in a beet and goat cheese sandwich. Ugh. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. There's a place by my house that makes that exact sandwich. I order it every time. But um, getting back on track, arugula is just a great, versatile plant. Totally easy to grow too. The roots to this plant are not deep, so id you'd like to grow a lot, get a pot that's got more length than depth. What do you like using arugula in? Here are a few arugula dish ideas. You're welcome.
You will need:
  • Arugula seeds (preferably organic)
  • 6 inch wide (or more) clay pot with drainage hole (make sure your pot has more width than depth)
  • Organic potting soil (I got mine at Home Depot)
  • A dish, saucer, or tray to place under pot (to capture any water leaked out of drainage hole)
  • Sunny window (South, west, or east facing windows are best)
Directions:
  1. Fill your 6-inch wide clay pot with your organic potting soil. Since arugula's roots aren't that deep, it's important to get a longer, wider pot than a deeper one.
  2. Now add some seeds to your soil. I recommend 4 - 5 seeds per pot. Seeds should be about 1-3 inches apart. You can always thin them out too (6 inch spacing) when they sprout.
  3. Now cover the seeds with some more soil, about 1/2 inch deep (in other words, don't bury them). Transfer the pot over to your chosen windowsill. Over the next few days, water by gently misting the soil, instead of with a watering can. 
  4. Watering: You should start to see sprouts within 7-14 days: Now you can use your watering can (or for me, my upcycled glass bottle). Make sure you water around the sprouts, not on them (sprouts are very fragile and you don't want them bending in awkward ways!). Water ONLY when the soil at the top is dry to the touch.  Arugula needs a lot of water, so once daily should do the trick.
  5. Thinning: You might have to thin these out. Just pluck out the sprouts to create 6-inch spacing. This will give the really good plants room to grow. You could always transplant them too, but don't throw out the sprouts you thin: Wash them off and add them to salads or sandwiches!
  6. Sunlight: Spinach also need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Essentially, that means I don't even bother moving them away from my windowsill. If you see them reaching for the sunlight, rotate the pot to make sure they're getting sunlight evenly on all sides.
  7. Harvesting: To harvest some arugula leaves, simply snip off the leaves you'd like to take. This encourages new growth.

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Want more indoor container gardening? Check out the rest of the series here (this list will be updated):
Part 5 - Coming soon! *Summer vegetables*
Part 6 - Coming soon! *Summer fruits*
I'll update this series once a month on a Friday. Part 4 will probably be on June 30th. See you then! 

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