Yes, it's possible to grow a number of foods right in your kitchen. And you don't need a green thumb to do it.
Gardening inside the home has become increasingly popular. Below you'll find some easy-to-grow foods along with instructions for growing them in your own kitchen.
Photo: Markus Spiske
Growing lettuce is simple. Place the white root of a lettuce head in a container of water without letting the water reach the top of the stem. Set the plant in the sun. In a few days, new roots and leaves will appear. After about a week, plant in soil, if desired, making sure the leaves are above the soil line. In a few weeks, you'll be harvesting fresh lettuce.
Alternatively, immediately plant directly into soil. Be sure to water intensively until new growth appears.
Lettuce seeds won't germinate in soil that's 80°F or warmer. Don't sow them directly in the garden in the summer. Start heat-tolerant varieties indoors and move the seedlings to the garden, preferably in part shade, after they've developed several true leaves.
The root of lemongrass only needs a little water in a container and some sunlight to sprout. This takes about a week. Transplant the lemongrass to a pot. When the stalks reach approximately 12 inches high, cut what's above the soil. They will regrow.
Place the white root end in a glass jar with a little water and leave in a sunny or well-lit spot indoors. The green, leafy part of the plant grows exceptionally fast. Cut what you need, leaving the white root end in water to continue growing. During the winter, keep the jar away from drafts.
Leeks require very little attention. Although some people discard the dark green tops, they can be be used for wrapping a bouquet garni as well as flavoring soups and stews. Dehydrate pieces of the leaves to make crisps. Toast the green trimmings to sprinkle on a variety of dishes, or freeze them for stock.
Photo: Lisa Fotios
Arugula grows best in loose, well-drained soil. Put some arugula seeds on top of a pot of soil, and cover with a layer of dry soil. Spray or sprinkle with warm water. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm location. In about 3-7 days, the first shoots will appear. Remove the plastic wrap. When the leaves reach 4 inches, they're ready to harvest.
There are two ways to grow fennel. The first utilizes the remaining part of the white root bulb. Put in a glass container filled with water and place in a well-lit location. Alternatively, you can sow fennel seeds in soil. This method takes a little longer to produce a harvest.
Radishes are perfect to grow on your windowsill. Never let them sit in water, but they do like sufficient moisture. Sow seeds sparingly indoors. You might not need to thin them if you plant about six seeds in each medium-sized container and let them all grow to maturity.
Radishes need at least 6 hours of full sun a day, but are tolerant of some shade.
It's easy to grow mint from seeds. Sprinkle the seeds on top of soil that drains well and barely cover with more soil. Since mint doesn't like to be waterlogged, use a spray bottle for watering. Seedlings should appear within two weeks. In another two weeks, you're ready to harvest the leaves. This plant prefers shade, and won't tolerate direct sunlight.
It seems everyone has a favorite variety. If you love tomatoes, you're in luck. A number of popular varieties of cherry and patio tomatoes don't take up much space and are easily grown in containers. Cherry tomatoes work especially well in small spaces.
Tiny Tim, Small Fry or Patio Pik are compact determinate varieties that produce clusters of cherry tomatoes in about 65 days.
Golden Nugget is a determinate hybrid producing yellow cherry tomatoes. Early Cascade is indeterminate, producing red cherry tomatoes. Both are early producers good for colder regions.
Sweet Million and Sun Gold are sprawling indeterminate types. Sweet Million is a prolific producer of red tomatoes; Sun Gold produces very sweet yellow cherry tomatoes. These are good for a long, warm growing season.
Sweet 100 and Yellow Pear - In hot weather, tomato plants may crack or not set fruit properly. These varieties can handle a bit more heat than most.
Tiny Tim (45 Days) - round, red fruits are approximately ¾" in diameter. Tiny Tim will produce nice cherry tomatoes in a window sill garden or in small pots. The mature plant measures about 1.5' tall.
Yellow Canary (55 Days) produces yellow 1" fruits. This is a dwarf variety that can grow in pots as small as 7" in diameter. It tolerates lower light levels, and is a good choice if your patio doesn’t get as much sun.
Red Robin (55 Days) has red fruits approximately 1¼" in size. The mature plant measures about 1' high and produces mild-tasting fruit. This plant only needs an 8" pot to produce a bounty of tomatoes.
Elfin (60 Days) is a plant with red fruits approximately 1½ inches long. They're crisp and delicious. One reason this makes a good choice for containers is the lower height of the mature plant.
Sprite (60 Days) produces red, oval-shaped fruits approximately 1" long. This tomato has beautiful, sweet fruit that's very good on its own. Many gardeners like the thin skin on these tomatoes. It produces a high yield at maturity and keeps going until first frost.
Patio F Hybrid (70 Days) has red fruits weighing approximately 3-4 ounces. This small tomato plant works great in containers at least 12" in diameter. The fully mature plant measures about 2' tall and has lush green leaves, along with a bounty of tasty tomatoes.
Totem (70 Days) produces small round, red fruits. Totem tomatoes produce an abundant harvest on a small plant.
Tumbling Tom Hybrid (70 Days) is red or yellow with an approximately 1½-2" diameter, and is an excellent choice for hanging baskets and containers. Several plants can be grown in a 12" pot.
Window Box Roma (70 Days) has 2" red fruits. This variety produces long-lasting fruits with a much longer shelf life than other tomato varieties. It is disease-resistant.
Micro Tom (75-85 Days) is the smallest tomato plant in the world, measuring less than 8" tall at maturity. It has 1" or smaller red fruits and will easily grow in a 4-6" pot on a window sill. It is very productive. Each mature plant will generally yield around two dozen fruits about the size of cherry tomatoes.
The West Coast was my home for 40 years. I now live in Middle Tennessee. I've been a gardener most of my life and have written for several gardening websites. I have a B.A. in European History and an M.A. in Behavioral Science with an emphasis in conflict resolution. I spent a number of years working with victims of domestic violence. I'm passionate about gardening, environmental issues and I love to travel.