Easy veg to grow indoors: Part one

Posted on June 16, 2017 by Helen Field

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The easiest way to get your 5-a-day

Do you live in a flat or don't have enough room in your garden to grow your own veg? Then get growing some indoors. With the advantage of shelter and warmth it's the perfect place to grow an amazing range of vegetables. Did you know even organic crops are allowed to use up to 15 pesticides? There's no need to douse them in insect repellent indoors, meaning you'll have the purest food possible without any intervention at all.

By growing veg indoors you'll be rewarded with some of the tastiest vegetables you've ever had. Read on to learn which vegetables are easiest to start with.

Tasty tomatoes

Tumbling Tiger, Chocolate Cherry, and Green Zebra are just a few interesting names of tomato plants! As tomato plants love the sun, find your sunniest windowsill. Seeds can be started off in yogurt pots and transplanted into bigger containers once they get going. Depending on the variety of tomato you may need to support the plant with a cane as it grows taller.

Before the tomatoes come little yellow flowers. Indoor tomato plants will need help with pollination, so to imitate movement caused outdoors by wind, insects and birds, gently shake the main stem or  get a paintbrush and dab pollen from flower to flower. You'll be able to start twisting the delicious, sweet tomatoes off the branches in around 60 to 80 days.

Tip 1: Over watering can cause tomatoes to burst or split, so don't overdo it.
Tip 2: Tomatoes need plenty of nutrients in the soil so you'll need to add phosphorus fertilizer now and again.

Varieties

Cherry or plum tomatoes which give you plenty of small fruit and ripen fast - Red Robin, Tiny Tim, Toy Boy, Florida Petite.

How to use tomatoes

Pour them into a massive cooking pot and make passata, or roast them gently among sweet potato slices until they soften and burst with beautiful sweetness.

Lovely lettuce

You can grow lettuce in small pots of soil in a bright windowsill at first, using just a light sprinkling of soil on the lettuce seeds, as they're tiny. A medium sized plastic plant pot is also ideal to save you transplanting seedlings when they get bigger. If you use a terracotta pot, bear in mind that they tend to absorb moisture, making the soil dry out quicker. If you don't have a pot to hand you could use a plastic bag with some small holes in to let water drain, and place the bag on a plate or tray to avoid making a mess!
Keep the soil damp - watering the seeds using a spray bottle is gentler than using a watering can, as it won't uproot the delicate seedlings. Transfer the pots to a cooler location once the leaves start getting bigger. Seeds will germinate in around one to two weeks. You'll be able to harvest your lettuce after about six weeks, depending on the variety.

Varieties

Cos or Romaine, butterhead or loose leaf. 

How to use lettuce

The more flavours you can put with the subtle lettuce leaf, the more interesting salads can be! How about adding things like roasted beetroot, feta, chicken, chives, mint, orange slices, or yogurt dressings to your salad leaves to make a more substantial meal?

Not a cold salad fan? Try seared, sautéed or braised lettuce for something a bit different. Delicious cooked with peas and onion.

Charming chillies

Chillies come in several different levels of heat, from pleasantly mild to 'burn your tongue off' hot! Just take a look at the Scoville scale to see how your chillies rate. Chilli plants can do really well in a cooler climate. You can grow chillies from seed by keeping them warm indoors, or get a head start by buying a plant. Either way, if you keep them in a warm sunny place, you'll be able to get a very good crop.

You can start seeds off in small containers, or place some seeds between damp sheets of kitchen roll and lay them flat in a flat container like a lunchbox or sealable plastic bag. It's important to keep them damp and warm at this stage so the seeds can germinate happily. When they've swelled up, in around two to five days, they're ready to plant into small pots.

Tip: Your chilli plant will probably need a good feed with phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen now and again to keep it growing well.

How to use chillies

Try adding half or one to Bolognese for a little kick, or fry with a little tomato puree and cardamom and lemon for a tasty chilli rice.

Ravishing radishes

Radishes aren't just red and round, you can grow white ones, ones which look like mini watermelons, oblong ones and giant ones! They don't all taste the same either - some are more earthy than others.

The small round radishes we're all familiar with grow quickly in about four weeks. Simply plant the seeds and keep the soil moist. This is a fun veg for kids to grow as they are easy to look after, tend to have few pests, and grow fast. Try planting them in a tray of soil on a sunny windowsill indoors.

Tip: Make sure the tops are covered with soil as they grow to avoid drying and splitting.

Varieties

With shallow roots, the Sparkler variety is great. There's also French breakfast and April cross.

How to use radishes

Try adding slices of radish to a stir-fry or make super thin slices in a food processor and fan them decoratively over a salad.

They're perfect for dipping whole in homous too, especially the oblong radishes.

Feeling inspired?

Hopefully you're already planning which windowsill you can fit a tomato plant or two on. All you need now is a little patience while you nurture your indoor vegetables. It's fun, rewarding and tasty!

Want even more ideas for easy veg to grow indoors? There are four more in the second part next week. Keep your eyes and carrots peeled - we'll let you know when part two is out via Twitter and Facebook.

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