Growing vegetables indoors has several advantages over growing them outside. It’s less work as you don’t have to bend down and get as dirty. There are less indoor pests in indoor gardening, although there still are some insects that are attracted to houseplants. However, the best advantage is having homegrown vegetables year-round. Some of the easiest plants to grow indoors include tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants and leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce.
Smaller tomatoes such as cherry and plum tomatoes easily can be grown indoors. Because tomatoes need sun, they should be grown near or on a sunny windowsill. Sunrooms and enclosed porches are excellent for growing tomatoes, as well as any type of indoor vegetable. Indoor tomatoes need warm temperatures of around 70 to 75 degrees F during the day and 65 to 67 degrees at night. Besides small types of tomatoes, larger varieties can also be grown indoors, such as medium-sized yellow tomatoes known as Taxi tomatoes.
Although peppers can be grown indoors year-round, for best results, grow them when the weather outside is warm. Indoor peppers need good sunlight on windows facing either the south or west. They can also be grown under a special light bulb or lamp of 400 to 600 watts, according to Growing Peppers.com. Peppers should be kept out of both cold and warm drafts as failing to do so will result in plants having thinner stems.
Growing cucumbers indoors is especially a good idea for gardeners living in regions where cucumber beetles are a problem. Cucumbers need heat, light, moisture and a rich growing medium. Although they can be harvested indoors, most gardeners transplant their indoor cucumbers outside when the plants have grown at least an inch. It typically takes about 10 to 14 weeks for cucumbers to be large enough for harvesting.
Because eggplants are susceptible to various soil-borne diseases, growing them indoors protects them from soil diseases. They can be grown in containers such as a 12-inch pot for one plant. Potting soil can be made by mixing compost, peat moss and perlite, Oriental varieties are especially suitable for pots as they are smaller. To speed up germination, eggplant seeds can be soaked in compost tea or water.
Greens such as spinach and lettuce can be grown indoors, although somewhat more monitoring is needed. Most leafy crops including spinach, endive, lettuce and Swiss chard need cooler indoor temperatures. Therefore, an enclosed sunny porch or sunroom where temperatures don’t go down into freezing is an ideal environment to grow them. Leafy plants can tolerate daytime temperatures ranging from the low to middle 60s F, according to the Weekend Gardener. At night leafy vegetables can tolerate cooler temperatures at night as low as the upper 30s.