Raise your hand if you’ve ever flipped through Modern Farmer or stalked fabulous people’s impossibly bountiful vegetable gardens on Pinterest or Instagram. Mmhmm, us too. But the truth is, not everyone has a spacious backyard with fertile soil, or even a backyard at all, for that matter. And then there’s the black thumb issue—if you don’t know, that’s the polar opposite of a green thumb.
We can’t all be that person who’s a whiz at cultivating fruits and veggies at home. No matter how easy the internet says it is to grow tomatoes and strawberries indoors, it’s pretty difficult. Tomatoes require ample sunshine, and strawberries can take over a year to fruit. If you don’t have a floor-to-ceiling south-facing window or a lot of patience, these so-called “easy-to-grow” fruits are not for you. Some people invest in home hydroponic systems, which have become pretty sophisticated and relatively affordable and user-friendly. Ones like the AeroGarden Ultra make growing cherry tomatoes and salad greens in the home almost foolproof. But if you’re looking for something even less involved (if you’re reading this, you probably are) here are three super simple veggies you can definitely grow indoors without a hitch.
Alfalfa sprouts are almost too easy. Even grade-schoolers can—and do—grow them in class. All you need are organic alfalfa sprouting seeds (make sure they’re labeled specifically for sprouting to avoid any pathogens or contamination), a wide-mouthed mason jar, cheesecloth, and a rubber band. Wash the seeds thoroughly. Place 1 tablespoon seeds into the mason jar, and add a few inches of cool water. Cover the jar opening with cheesecloth secured by a rubber band. Let the seeds soak overnight at room temperature. The next day, drain, rinse, and again drain the seeds. Cover again with cheesecloth and a rubber band and let the jar sit upside-side down on a drying rack out of direct sunlight. Repeat this process at least twice a day, never letting the seeds dry out completely. They should be full-grown and ready to use within a week or less.
Microgreens are amazing to have on hand for fresh salad or garnish. The beauty of these, compared to most other greens like lettuce and spinach, is that you can grow a lot of them in a small space—perfect for indoors. Mesclun seed mixes are a good option. For a container, anything with drainage holes will do—a washed Trader Joe’s salad box works just fine. (Upcycling!) Add about 1 1/2 to 2 inches moistened organic potting mix and flatten it out for an even surface. Sprinkle the seeds all over the soil, and then very gently press them into the soil with your hands. Sift a very fine layer of dry potting mix over the seeds. Place the container on a drip tray (the washed lid of the salad box). Water gently by misting generously with a spray bottle, to keep the seeds in place. Let this little DIY plant bed sit on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights, and keep the soil moist. Luscious microgreens will be yours within 1 to 3 weeks.
March or April is an ideal time to start a green onion plant—around five to six weeks before the last frost in most places. (Check the date of the last frost in your area here.) Pick up a terra-cotta or metal pot, about 18 inches and with a drainage hole. Place a few small pebbles over the hole. Throw in 3/4 inch of moistened compost. Add dry compost to about 1/2 inch to the rim. Dig shallow rows, each about 1 inch apart, across the soil. Sprinkle green onion seeds into the rows, then cover with compost. Keep the soil moist and undisturbed, making sure it gets a few hours of direct sunlight near a sunny window or under grow lights each day. Give them about a month and they’ll be ready to harvest at around 6 inches tall. Pretty exciting to see your very own green onions spring up, and you can even regrow them from the root ends once they’re harvested and used. Just place the cut roots of used green onions into a glass filled about halfway with water. Let them sit on a sunny windowsill, and watch them basically regenerate within a week. This is also great if you don’t even want to bother with the initial planting—buy some organic green onions from the farmers’ market, and then regrow them indefinitely. Game changer! All three of these crops can become gorgeous green accents around the kitchen. Who needs a fancy vegetable garden after all?