Indoor Container Gardening: 3 Fruits to Grow This Spring

Friday, May 26, 2017

By: Ariana Palmieri
Ever since I was little I've loved getting my hands dirty in soil (and sometimes even mud). There was a tree in a playground near my house that I particularly loved playing under. I would take some water, pour it into the soil, take a stick, mix it around, and make mud. My dad would watch me amusedly as I repeated over and over again, "muuuuud". Nowadays, my love for all things soil and plant-related still thrives, but has been transferred over to containers. That's because I live in an apartment and don't have much room to grow things (especially not outside). I only have two windowsills (one of them is in my parents room!) that provide adequate light. But that's okay, because I make it work, and you can too!
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 three: Spring fruits.
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. My second post was all about spring vegetables. This time around, I'm going to be talking about spring fruits. Specifically strawberries, cherries, and lemons. These all grow great in containers (assuming you have the right sized container for the job), 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 summer herbs, 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 June 30th!


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Strawberries


Perhaps the easiest of the fruits listed on this post to grow in a container, strawberries are my favorite. They taste so delicious in the spring (especially when you buy organic ones), it's like heaven for your mouth. These delicious little fruits can be added to everything from salad to desserts. They can of course be eaten raw, but I love making them into a delicious jam or decadent strawberry syrup. I've never grown them before, but I'm going to be this spring/summer and I'm super excited to give it a shot!
You will need:
  • Strawberry seeds (preferably organic)
  • 10 - 12 inch clay pot (and 8 inches deep) 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 10 - 12 inch clay pot with your organic potting soil.  If you cannot find a pot this big, it's okay to use a smaller one, but please note the smaller the pot, the more you will have to water your plant to prevent it from drying out.
  2. Now add some seeds to your soil. I recommend no more than 2 seeds per pot. Give them their space too: Seeds should be at least 5 - 6 inches apart.
  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: Once you start to see sprouts, 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. Strawberries in containers need more water than in a garden, so make sure to water frequently (even daily)!
  5. Sunlight: Strawberries need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Essentially, that means don't even bother moving them away from the windowsill. If you see them reaching for the sunlight, rotate the pot to make sure they're getting sunlight evenly on all sides.
  6. Harvesting: To harvest strawberries, look for ones that are fully red and ripe. Don't pull on the berry: Instead, snap or cut the stem directly above the berry. Keep harvested berries in a cool place (like a refrigerator). You can also freeze them if you'd like to use them in the future, rather than right away.

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Cherries

When I was little, I ate cherries by the ton load. I would always look forward to my parents bringing home a bunch full of cherries from the store. I thought it was fun to eat because you had to remove the pits. I kind of made it into a game. I also loved how the dark red ones would stain my fingers red. I would pretend it was blood and that I was a vampire and smear it all over my lips. That, or I'd pretend I'd be applying makeup. Either way, cherries are delicious raw and make a great spring and summer treat. They also taste amazing when baked into delightful goodies. How do you like to eat your cherries? 

You will need:
  • Cherry seeds (you could probably just clean off the pits from cherries you buy at the store and use those - I would use organic ones though)
  • For just sprouting the seeds, a 5 - 6 inch clay pot with a drainage hole will do (once it matures, you will need to transplant it to a pot that's at least 10 - 16 inches deep and 12 - 18 inches in diameter - remember, it's a tree!)
  • 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. Pre-moisten your potting organic potting soil. Put some soil into a bucket and mix in some water until the soil is damp all the way through.
  2. Fill your 5 - 6 inch clay pot with your dampened organic potting soil. Leave about an inch of space below the rim of your container.
  3. I would suggest planting only one seed per container, so if you'd like, plant multiple seeds in different containers and see which flourish. I wouldn't recommend trying more than 4 seeds at a time.
  4. 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. Don't let the soil dry out completely - the seeds need to be warm and moist in order to germinate!
  5. Watering: You should start to see sprouts anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks or so: 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 whenever the soil becomes dry on the top.
  6. Transplanting: When the time comes, you will have to transplant your sprouts into a pot that's 10 - 16 inches deep and 12 - 18 inches in diameter. This will ensure it has plenty of room to grow and (eventually) produce fruit. Place more organic pre-moistened soil into the bigger pot and gently remove your sprouts from their original pot. Place them in the center of their new home and make sure they're nice and snug by adding more soil (or compacting the soil already there with your fingers).
  7. Sunlight: Cherries need at least 6 - 8 hours of sunlight a day. Essentially, that means they need to be by the windowsill at all times.
  8. Harvesting: With proper care and time, your cherry tree will fruit. Depending on the type of cherry you decide to grow, you'll know it's ripe by it's color. For example, red cherries will be almost black when ready to be picked. Pull the fruit from the tree with an inch of stem remaining. This helps the cherries remain fresh for longer periods. Freshly harvested cherries will remain good for about a week after picking. Store in a cool place (like your refrigerator!)
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Lemons



It's always been a dream of mine to grow a lemon tree. I want at least two of them planted outside my future home. Believe it or not, I have a connection to lemons that extends into my blood line: My grandpa actually used to own a lemon farm back in Italy. I don't know if he still has it anymore (he lives in America now and has been here for several years), but I think that's really cool. I'd love to grow lemons in a garden one day, just like he did, but for now, maybe I'll give a miniature (dwarf) lemon tree a shot. After all, these are the ones that will do best in an indoor container garden.
You will need:
  • Miniature lemon seeds (here are some that got good reviews on Etsy)
  • For just sprouting the seeds, a 5 - 6 inch clay pot with drainage hole will do (once it matures, you will need to transplant it to a pot that's 10 - 16 inches deep and 12 - 18 inches in diameter).
  • 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. Pre-moisten your potting organic potting soil. Put some soil into a bucket and mix in some water until the soil is damp all the way through.
  2. Fill your 5 - 6 inch clay pot with your  dampened organic potting soil. Leave about an inch of space below the rim of your container.
  3. I would suggest planting only one seed per container, so if you'd like, plant multiple seeds in different containers and see which flourish. I wouldn't recommend trying more than 4 seeds at a time.
  4. 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.   Don't let the soil dry out completely - the seeds need to be warm and moist in order to germinate!
  5. Watering: You should start to see sprouts in about 2 weeks or so: 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!). Lemons need a lot of water, so make sure to water daily.
  6. Food: Once or twice a year it might be smart to give your tree some fertilizer to help it grow. You can do this without artificial chemicals. Simply dig a little trench around the base of your tree, fill it with compost and water it well. Or, serve it up as compost tea.
  7. Transplanting: When the time comes, you will have to transplant your sprouts into a pot that's 10-16 inches deep and 12-18 inches in diameter. This will ensure it has plenty of room to grow and (eventually) produce fruit (which can take up to a year mind you). Place more organic pre-moistened soil into the bigger pot and gently remove your sprouts from their original pot. Place them in the center of their new home and make sure they're nice and snug by adding more soil (or compacting the soil already there with your fingers).
  8. Sunlight: Lemons need a lot of sunlight: 8 - 12 hours of sunlight to be exact. Essentially, that means they need to be by the windowsill at all times. If you feel your window doesn't get this much light, try investing in some cheap grow lights. 
  9. Harvesting: You won't be harvesting lemons too soon with these plants. That said, with proper care and time, they'll fruit. When they do, simply pick the lemons off like you would an apple from a tree. Feel free to snip them off right where the stem meets the lemon too (as this is gentler).

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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. Next month's will probably be on June 30th. See you then! 

2 comments :

  1. I would love to try growing a cherry tree. Any of these actually. I've had luck with potted plants outdoors but never tried them indoors. One question though, do you need to dry out your seeds for a few days if you choose to grow from fresh berry seeds? Thanks doll!

    Debra

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Debra,

      Cherries are amazing so I do recommend giving it a try! You don't necessarily have to let them dry out, but I would wash them off and make sure there's no flesh of the fruit left on it. Then I'd simply dry it off with a towel and plop it into soil as instructed above. ☺ Hope this helps!

      Best,

      Greenify-Me (Ariana)

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