Indoor Container Gardening: 3 Vegetables to Grow This Summer

Friday, July 28, 2017

indoor container gardening

By: Ariana Palmieri

Back when I was little, my mom was a home health aid and would take me with her (sometimes) to client's homes. I remember one of her clients quite fondly: He had a really quaint backyard garden that looked absolutely massive to little me. He didn't mind letting me look at any of the plants either, which made my little inquisitive mind all the happier. Every summer, his garden had an abundance of vegetables growing in it: Squash, pepper, eggplant, tomatoes. I loved spending time in it, but I was careful never to disturb his plants, out of respect for both the garden and the gardener. I guess that's where my love for plants, gardening, and summer started. To me, summer wouldn't be summer without seeing some sort of vegetation popping out from some nice, earthy soil. To celebrate my mother's client who loved growing vegetables before I ever could, I dedicate this post to him. After all, this post is all about vegetables!

That said, I certainly don't have a garden like my mom's client did. In fact, I have pretty limited gardening space because I live in an apartment. That's okay though, I make it work, and you can too. If you're tired of hearing "transfer this plant outside" or "move outdoors", this article is for you. It's totally possible to grow plants indoors (without transferring them outside) successfully! Welcome to part five: Summer 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. My second post was all about spring vegetables, my third post was about spring fruits, and my fourth post was about summer herbs. If you enjoy this series, be sure to look out for the last post in this series next month! I publish every Friday, so look out for the next one August 25th!

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Swiss Chard
indoor container gardening

When you were little, were there certain vegetables you just wouldn't eat? Swiss chard was definitely one of those for me. I would not touch the stuff. But now? Heck yes! I love me some swiss chard and absolutely adore the colorful stems (they come in an array of colors: Pink, yellow, red, you name it). The good news is that I have experience growing this plant (albeit, not too much). I grew it last summer and while it did alright for a while, it didn't really grow as tall as I would've liked it to. That said, I've learned from that experience and done some research since that time. If you follow these directions, you're bound to grow plenty of swiss chard in no time.

You will need:
  • Swiss chard seeds (preferably organic)
  • 8 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 8 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 several inches apart. Aim for at least 3 - 6 inches of separation.
  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. Examine the soil after a few days, and look for sprouted seeds. If two sprouts appear to be growing from the same seed, cut away the weakest of the two with cuticle scissors. This will help the plant focus its energy for optimal growth.
  5. Watering: Once you have sprouts growing, 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. I always watered my swiss chard daily, but never over did it (just enough to make the soil moist).
  6. Sunlight: Swiss chard needs at least 6 hours of sunlight. Essentially, that means don't even bother moving them away from the windowsill. They love sun and heat!
  7. Harvesting: To harvest swiss chard, simply pick off the outer leaves once the plant begins to mature. This will also encourage new growth.

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Peas
indoor container gardening

Most people seem pretty disconnected with how peas really grow. After all, in most frozen food aisles, you'd find (plastic) bags filled with just the inside of the peas, not the actual pea pods. I get why they do this (after all, adding pea pods to an egg omelet might be a little cumbersome), but I do think there is a charm to getting whole peas. At the farmers market, I found sugar snap peas and couldn't be more excited. I scooped them up and my family made them in a delicious stir fry dish. Ugh, so good. I also do have experience growing them first hand. They can be a little challenging to grow, but with proper care, and some sturdy support (literally - they need a trellis), they'll do just fine.

You will need:
  • Pea seeds (preferably organic - snap peas or dwarf peas are best for indoor growth)
  • Pea trellis (I built my own)
  • 8 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 8 inch clay pot with your organic potting soil
  2. Now add some seeds to your soil. I recommend no more than 2 seeds per pot, as peas need their space. Make sure to space them out at least two inches apart.
  3. Now cover the seeds with some more soil, about 1/4 inches 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. When the pea seedlings have reached four inches tall, begin to train the pea vines around the supports you’ve provided (AKA your trellis). At six inches tall, pinch off the tips so the peas will send out horizontal shoots that will cling to the trellis.
  5. Watering: Once you start to see sprouts, 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 always watered my basil daily, but never over did it (just enough to make the soil moist).
  6. Sunlight: Peas needs 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Essentially, that means don't even bother moving them away from the windowsill. If you have a windowsill that doesn't get that amount of sunlight, consider investing in grow lights.
  7. Harvesting: To harvest peas, you have to wait until you see actual pea shoots. You'll probably notice a pea flower first (which are pretty all on their own). This is a good step, since the pea shoot will grow from this flower. When you finally have a full grown pea shoot, simply pinch it off using your finger. Pick the peas daily when ripe - this will encourage more growth!

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Radishes
indoor container gardening

Believe it or not, I'm pretty much the only one in my family who likes radishes. Whenever we go to the farmers market (pretty much every Saturday), I always see them and want them. Trouble is, they always give you so many and I just know I'd never be able to eat them all on my own, so I usually opt out. That said, I'd love to try growing them one day. I've do some research and they really aren't hard to grow indoors, in a container. Certainly gives me hope for the future!

You will need:
  • Radish seeds (preferably organic)
  • 8 inch deep (or more) clay pot with a very good 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 8 inch deep clay pot with your organic potting soil.
  2. Now add some seeds, or sprouts, to your soil. Radish seeds are small, so you might want to just sprinkle in a bunch and thin them out later (while thinning, make sure the seedlings are at least 2 inches apart). Also, since radishes are root vegetables, they don't take well to being transplanted.
  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). 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. Make sure the drainage in the pot is good, as thyme doesn't take well to soggy roots. Never let it sit in water that's been collected in the saucer, either.
  5. Sunlight: Radishes needs at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight. Essentially, that means don't even bother moving them away from the windowsill. If you have a windowsill that doesn't get that amount of sunlight, consider investing in grow lights.
  6. Harvesting: To harvest radishes, watch the plants carefully until they are an edible size. The smaller globes are more spicy while the larger ones have a more mellow taste. Either way, the root is the only part that's edible: It will begin to swell very soon after planting. Make sure to harvest radishes quickly to prevent splitting and drying. To harvest radishes, simply pull them out of the soil by their greens.
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Want more indoor container gardening? Check out the rest of the series here (this list will be updated):
Part 5 - Indoor Container Gardening: 3 Vegetables to Grow This Summer
Part 6 - Coming soon! *Summer fruits*
I'll update this series once a month on a Friday. Next month's will probably be on August 25th. It will be the last in the series. 

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