– While anything that grows outside can technically be grown indoors, some aren’t practical from a size, light, and liveability perspective (we love our plants, but not enough to keep the apartment at 90°F and 75% humidity!) Fortunately these plants are the exception, not the rule, so with practically limitless options, how do you go about deciding what plant you’ll try next?
Whenever we screen a new seed variety or decide what to grow our selves, we use a set of criteria (flavor, looks, rarity, productivity) that we’ll break down for you in this blog. We hope it’ll help guide you to plants you love. We’d also love to hear about favorites you’ve found or ways you think about it.
Start small and experiment!
Some edible plants are totally brown thumb proof, and some are better to work your way up to. If you are diligent – you can grow pretty much everything but we find it’s more encouraging, enjoyable, and relaxing if you master the basics first. We have a separate article that covers the recommended edible plants for beginners as well as how you should progress between them.
Grow what you like to eat
Seems like stating the obvious, but I found myself growing bushels of thai basil before realizing that I just don’t really like the taste of it. Start off by focusing on plants that you love, then explore from there. If you love salad, then it’s worth exploring the 1000+ lettuce varieties that you can’t have unless you grow them yourself. Of course, leaving room for experimentation and trying new plants is part of the fun, but if you start by focusing on growing food you love then your garden will always be rewarding.
Grow what’s best fresh
The moment you ‘pick’ a fruit, vegetable or herb and detach its fruit or leaves from the main plant, it starts decomposing. The speed at which plants decompose varies based on the type and storage, but a loss of flavor, nutritional density, color and smell are all inevitable. This is one of the many reasons why we’re so obsessed with eating fresh food!
While all produce starts breaking down right after it’s picked, some keeps a lot longer than others. We think it makes sense to focus our home-grown gardening efforts on plants that experience a very rapid degradation of quality after they’ve been harvest. Ones where the difference between 1 minute old and 1 day old is really noticeable. This approach means you will be tasting and enjoying flavors which are simply not available at your local supermarket. For produce that breaks down more slowly (RHS in the table below) – one could argue that it might make more sense to just buy these at the local farmer’s market?
Fresh or bust
Doesn’t (really) matter
Where a little goes a long way…
Certain plants can elevate an entire dish with just a tiny amount – a single szechuan pepper adds serious zing to a noodle dish and a little fresh basil livens up canned soup. If you are low on space your garden can still have a big impact by selecting plants that you only need a little of. Herbs like basil, dill, parsley, are great to have on hand – especially when the alternative is buying a pack of half-wilted leaves only to throw most away.
Grow what you can’t find in stores
There are over 10,000 varieties of tomato… but you’d be lucky to find 10 in a produce aisle. Why just those 10? Unfortunately, it’s not because they were the best tasting, but rather they were the best tasting that could also withstand cross-country shipping without a bruise and sit on the shelf without spoiling. That leaves 99% of all tomatoes that you haven’t tried. Our favorite places to explore are seed catalogues, facebook groups, and seed banks.
Think About The ‘Return On Investment’
With indoor gardening you’ve only got a small amount of space, so it’s important that the plants earn their keep. The most productive plants are ones with short growing periods, small footprints, and that offer continual harvests. Our favorite top producers are microgreens, lettuces, cucumbers and indeterminate tomatoes.
We’ll Save You Time: Some Plants Just Aren’t Practical To Grow Indoors
While it goes against our nature to tell you to not grow something – there are a few plants that just aren’t worth the trouble or otherwise don’t make much sense to grow indoors.
Melons Can’t Ripen In Your AC
First off melons need lots of space (about 15ft2 per fruit) and they also need long hot summers to ripen… so they basically just don’t make very good roommates.
Corn NeedS Proper Pollination
While it would be fun to have some corn stalks growing in the corner, you would need to have lots of plants to get proper pollination.
Pumpkins & Winter Squash Need Space To Stretch Out
These vines are large and sprawley, they’ve got a long growing season, and they keep for a long time so you’re much better off with getting these at the store and using your space for more rewarding plants.
Cabbage Plants Are Monstrous
Great to grow as a microgreen, but if you’ve never seen a plant up close – they’re massive. You’re much better off with its cousin, kale.
Lucky for you guys, we offer a variety of seeds that have been cultivated especially for growing indoors, as well as a Microgreens Kit, so you need not look any further. Check out our shop, purchase some seeds, and get growing!