Grow them right at home!
You don’t need to be a farmer to reap the benefits of homegrown produce. If you have a sunny window and a bit of extra time on your hands, you’re capable of growing a few of your own foods right at home. All plants require well-draining soil, which means you’ll either need to use a pot with holes in the bottom or pile up some stones in the bottom of your pot before adding soil to let water drain through the stones. Many of these plants grow best in areas that receive lots of sunlight and remain fairly warm throughout the day — so look around your place for your sunniest spot.
Best fruits to grow indoors
Avocados are full of healthy fats! Two-thirds of their fat is the good-for-you monounsaturated variety. Plus, they boast plenty of vitamins E and B6 and are high in carotenoids, which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, breast cancer and eye degeneration. It’s possible to grow an avocado tree from an avocado pit, but doing so may not yield edible fruit. If you want to eat what you sow, it’s best to purchase a dwarf avocado plant (Varieties that yield the larger green-skinned fruit or the more common black-skinned fruits are equally good). To tend to your tree, add some sand to the bottom of a large, well-draining pot before filling it with regular potting mix and planting. Water regularly but make sure the soil is never soggy — avocado roots don’t take well to being waterlogged. Prune the shoots often, and be sure to place the tree in an area with high ceilings — even dwarf trees can grow higher than 10 feet! Green varieties are ready to harvest when the fruit’s skin turns slightly yellow, while darker avocados are ready when their skins have turned almost black. Ripe fruits can be left hanging on the tree for a few weeks, but wait any longer than that and they’ll start to lose their flavor and texture.
Lemons are packed with vitamin C, which helps the body synthesize collagen, absorb iron, and metabolize protein. If you want the option of harvesting fruits right away, purchase a 2- to 3-year-old dwarf tree at a nursery. Bonus: These little trees are so adorable, they may become your new favorite decorative statement. Choose a clay, ceramic, or plastic pot slightly larger than the root ball of your tree, and make sure it has several holes in the bottom. Fill the drainage dish with stones to allow air to circulate. Use a potting soil specifically formulated for citrus trees, or choose a slightly acidic, loam based potting mix. Place the plant in an area that will receive 8 to 12 hours of sunlight each day. Water regularly, but be sure not to oversaturate the soil. (It should be moist, not sopping wet.) Citrus trees like moist air, so regularly misting the leaves with a spray bottle will help keep the leaves perky. Most lemons will ripen in 6 to 9 months. Test for ripeness by looking for full color and gently squeezing the rind. A slight “give” indicates lemons are ready for use.
Mandarin oranges aren’t just sweet. They’re a decent source of calcium, vitamin C, and fiber, too! Growing your own means you can enjoy them without the added syrups of the canned variety. Purchase dwarf mandarin orange trees for the best chance of growing fruits successfully indoors. The trees like spacious pots with drainage at the bottom and rich soil. They also require a sunny location (rotate the plant regularly to ensure that it receives light evenly on all sides). Water regularly, allowing the soil to dry out slightly between waterings. The trees can grow up to 6 feet tall, and their root system grows along with them. When the roots begin to grow back on themselves or out of the drainage holes, it’s time to repot in a container that’s at least 2 inches larger in diameter. For best flavor, harvest mandarins as soon as they turn orange. When they reach their telltale colour, clip or carefully twist and pull the fruit from the tree, making sure that the “button” at the top of the fruit remains intact.
Tomatoes are healthy! These red, fleshy veggies have a surprising amount of vitamin C and potassium, and they’re packed with the antioxidant lycopene, a carotenoid associated with vascular health. Start by selecting one 6-inch pot (for one plant) or a larger pot (approximately 12 inches) if you’d like to grow two plants. For a continuous supply of tomatoes, start one or two new plants from seed every 2 weeks. Fill the container(s) with starter potting mix and plant seeds about 1/4 inch deep. Water, keeping the soil moist but not soggy. Place the container in an area that receives substantial sunlight, turning the pot(s) occasionally so all sides have even access to the sun. Expect the seeds to germinate in 5 to 10 days. When the seedlings are about 3 inches tall, transplant them from the starter mix to potting soil. About 2 weeks after transplanting, add an organic fertilizer to the mix. Water the plants thoroughly; again, keep the soil moist but not soggy. As the plants grow larger, you may need to stake them to avoid broken stems. When the fruits are red and firm, but with a slight “give” to the touch, they’re ready to eat.
Best herbs to grow indoors
Chives contain concentrated amounts of vitamins A and C and phytochemicals that have antioxidant-like benefits. Start by purchasing seeds and selecting a pot that’s 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Fill it almost to the top with potting mix. Plant the seeds, making sure they’re covered by a light layer of soil. Place the container in an area that’s partially shaded. Water regularly, making sure the soil never dries out. Gently snip leaves from each plant, being sure not to remove all the leaves from any one plant.
Basil’s anti-inflammatory properties appear to stem from the oil eugenol, which can block enzymes in the body that cause swelling. Start by purchasing seeds or a starter plant online or at a nursery or grocery store. Choose a container that’s at least 4 inches wide and has good drainage holes. Basil likes warm temperatures and lots of sunlight — at least 6 hours of direct sun each day. Fertilize the soil about once a month with organic or slow-release fertilizers such as compost tea. Water often — about once a day when temperatures are really hot, or every other day in less intense conditions. When the top leaves reach about 6 inches in height, start cutting them back. Continue to prune as the plant gets bushier, being sure to pinch off any flowers that appear. Gently snip a few leaves from each plant, making sure not to remove all of the leaves from any one plant.
Cilantro is a source of vitamin A and contains antifungal properties. Begin by purchasing coriander seeds (coriander is the name for cilantro in seed form) or starter plants and selecting a container that’s at least 8 inches deep and has holes in the bottom for drainage. Fill the container with soil, leaving about an inch or 2 at the top of the pot. Press the seeds into the soil, then water the soil until moist. Cover the container with plastic wrap, securing it with rubber bands. Remove the plastic wrap once the seedlings have germinated and are pushing against the plastic (this should take a few days). Water the seedlings each day or so and keep the container in an area that receives a substantial amount of sunlight. Gently snip a few leaves from each plant, being sure not to remove all the leaves from any one plant.
Ginger is known for calming nausea. This one’s easy — like, really, really easy. Simply purchase a chunk of ginger at the grocery store and cover it with soil in a container, making sure the freshest-looking buds face up. Place the container in an area that receives indirect sunlight and wait for new growth to sprout. Keep the soil consistently moist, so that it’s never dried out (but never waterlogged). Pull the entire plant out of the soil, cut off as much as you need, and then replant the ginger using the same process described above.
Mint: Start by purchasing seeds or starter plants and a large, deep pot about 10 inches in diameter — mint will sprawl. Fill the container with potting soil and plant the seeds or starter. Place the container in an area that gets plenty of sunlight and water regularly, making sure the soil doesn’t dry out. Gently snip a few leaves from each plant, making sure not to remove all the leaves from any one plant.– TTN
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