You don’t need to spend time setting up a full-fledged garden to start growing some veggies you can be proud of from home. With some soil, a few planters, water, and patience, your favorite place to find organic produce could be right in your backyard (or just the kitchen windowsill). It’s an endlessly fun and rewarding hobby that beats store-bought every damn time – not just in terms of taste and convenience, but in the sense of pride you’ll feel when enjoying a meal knowing that you had a greater hand in its creation.
The downside: not all plants are beginner-friendly, so you’ll want to know what’s easiest to tackle if you’re just getting started. Here are a few of the best options for growing at home with time, efficiency, and deliciousness in mind.
Regardless of which kind you choose, tomatoes are some of the best plants to grow home, period. If you’ve ever tasted a fresh, home-grown one, you’ll know what we mean – the year-round, store-bought varieties can't compete. They work well indoors or in the garden, and add some great natural color to muted surroundings. - If you want a shortcut, buy seedlings from an outdoor market instead of planting your own seeds and waiting for them to grow. This’ll be a lot less work for you, and it’ll make the whole process from planting to harvesting a lot shorter, which means more juicy tomatoes a whole lot sooner.
If you’re planting outdoors, you can do so in fresh soil in your garden, or in large planter pots to accommodate more seedlings if you’re trying to grow several plants' worth.
If outdoor space is tight and you'd prefer to grow indoors, no worries. Just get a window planter, medium-sized planting pot, or a solid hanging planter – any of those will work fine.
Tomatoes love direct sunlight, so make sure they get as much as possible. If you’re growing outdoors, try to plant them far away from anything that’ll cast shadows and steal their spotlight. If you’re growing indoors, then set ‘em up near your window that receives the most sun.
Plant in a mixture of half planting mix, half potting soil to give the roots the ideal texture and environment to branch out.
Home-grown avocados are an awesome ingredient to always have on hand. Think about it: homemade guac anytime you'd like, made out of stuff you grew yourself. Great, right? Dwarf avocado plants are an ideal fit for small outdoor gardens because they can grow up to ten feet vertically in a few years but don’t take up too much horizontal space. - While it’s possible to grow an avocado tree from a pit, there’s no promise that the end product of all your labor will produce edible fruit. Save yourself some time and potential disappointment by buying a dwarf avocado plant, preferably one that’s already started flowering, at a market. Then take it home for some TLC.
Plant the little guy in a medium-sized planter (don’t worry about it being too small – you can always replant if you notice a growth spurt), and water frequently.
Avocado trees do best outdoors, in direct sunlight and warmer temps, and they take a while to begin producing fruit. Not ideal if you live somewhere that's cool and grey for most of the year, but if your home is generally sunny and warm year-round, you'll do well.
If you’re a stir-fry or salad fan, carrots are great to have sprouting right in your home. That way, if you need some more vegetables to round out your dinner, the farthest you have to run is to your windowsill.
And the best part is that all you need is a couple of extra minutes a day and a window that a decent amount of sun shines through, since they’re among the most low-maintenance vegetables around. - Get yourself some seeds and a decent-sized planting pot, or use a window box that’s about a foot and a half deep. Make sure there are holes in the bottom to let the soil drain – this’ll keep you from accidentally drowning your plants if you over-water.
Start planting by filing up your pot with planting soil, moisten it on top with a spray bottle of water, then sprinkle on your seeds. Push them into the soil with your finger and you’re ready to go.
Though carrots are a root vegetable, they thrive in direct sunlight, so make sure you place them near a window, or better yet, over a windowsill.
Water lightly each time you notice the top inch or so of soil is a bit dry.
Once the seedlings start to sprout and gain a few inches in height, you can help them out a bit by adding some organic fertilizer to their home soil. You can use a store-bought mix, but if you’re more of the DIY type, using a bit ground coffee, or even some crushed up eggshells will provide the plants with plenty of spare nutrients for optimal growth.
Just like carrots, radishes are a super easy root vegetable to grow at home if you’ve got a window that receives a lot of sunlight. Sliced thin or thick, they’ll add a satisfying, fresh crunch and some color to tacos, leafy salads, or hearty soups. Or you can just dip 'em in high-quality butter, sprinkle on some flaked salt, and take a bite. - Use a planting mix, tossed up with some potting soil and a bit of organic matter mixed in for extra nutrients. Pour the blend into a window planter or small planting pot, and set it up in direct sunlight.
Pick yourself up a packet of cherry belle radish seeds, which are the most common and easiest to grow variety. Don’t plant the whole packet at once – start by setting up about about a half-dozen in a small planter so the roots don’t compete for nutrients.
Most of the time, they’ll take about a month at shortest or two, at longest to grow fully. Keep an eye on them daily and make sure to keep the soil moist – you’ll start to see them sprouting up within a couple of weeks. Once you’ve had success, work on planting more and more to get extra bang from each harvest.
These grow a little differently than the others – but luckily, they're even simpler. They’re great in stir-fries, omelettes, soups, and risotto, and are easy to grow indoors even if you live somewhere that's usually cloudy or shady. - To start out, use a store-bought mushroom-growing kit, or purchase some mushroom spores and a growing mix from a gardening store. The easiest, and most reliable variety to start out with is white button mushrooms, but feel free to experiment with other types once you’ve had some success.
Basically, all you’ll need is a large, flat plastic container to mix up your planting mix and spores. No need to worry about it being completely airtight; they need to breathe a bit during their growth. If you know your container is airtight, it’d be wise to poke a couple holes through the plastic to be safe.
Since they thrive in dark, damp spaces, all you need to do is set the box up in a corner of your basement, crawlspace, or just right under the sink to keep them healthy.
The best part? The spores only take about three to four weeks to start producing edible mushrooms. Don’t pull ‘em up with your fingers when they’re ready, though: cut them from the stem with a sharp knife to avoid damaging any underdeveloped mushrooms growing underneath the surface.
So start small, experiment, and before you know it, you’ll have some awesome all-natural ingredients to cook with, so the next recipe you create can be truly all your own.