Summer is the perfect time to enjoy fresh salads made with ingredients you grew yourself. If you don’t have an outdoor space for a garden, that’s no problem. There are plenty of summer salad ingredients that you can grow indoors.
Here are five of our favorite salad ingredients to grow indoors:
Lettuce is obviously a staple of most salads, and fortunately, it’s one of the easiest vegetables to grow indoors. First of all, it’s important to choose the right pot for your lettuce plants. A deep pot is best since lettuce roots can grow up to two feet long. You’ll also want a pot with drainage holes in the bottom so excess water can drain away and not drown your plants.
Next, fill your pot with a good-quality planting mix or soil designed for indoor use. Lettuce likes well-drained soil that’s high in organic matter, so make sure whatever mix you choose meets those requirements. Once your pot is filled, water it well and let any excess water drain away before planting your seeds or seedlings.
Now it’s time to plant! If starting from seed, sow the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and space them about an inch apart; thinning them out as they germinate and develop into strong seedlings if necessary (you don’t want more than one plant per 4 inches of pot space).
For transplants from another source, like a nursery bedding flat or garden center six-pack, space plants 8-10 inches apart, depending on their size. Just make sure they’re not too crowded in their new home as this will encourage disease and other problems later on down the road.
Once your lettuce is planted, give it a good watering, and place the pot in a sunny spot. Lettuce needs at least six hours of sunlight per day to grow well, so an east- or south-facing windowsill is ideal. If you don’t have that kind of light available, you can supplement with grow lights set on a timer for 14-16 hours per day.
Keep an eye on your plants and water as needed to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Wilting leaves is a sign that your plant needs more water. Fertilize every couple of weeks with a liquid fertilizer designed for use on edible plants; follow package directions for application rates, based on the size of your pot and the number of plants growing therein.
Harvest time! Depending on the variety you’ve chosen, lettuce will be ready to harvest anywhere from 30-70 days after planting. Start by snipping off individual outer leaves as needed (a teardrop shape cut just above where the leaf meets the stem works well). Working from the outside in towards the center of each plant will encourage new growth and prolong seasonality.
As fall approaches and daylight hours shorten, most lettuces will begin to bolt (send up flowering stalks) in response. At this point, they’ll become bitter-tasting so it’s best to pull them out entirely, along with any remaining unharvested leaves.
Another easy-to-grow vegetable, radishes are perfect for salads. They grow quickly and don’t require much space or special care. First, choose a container that is at least 6 inches deep and has drainage holes. Fill it with a high-quality potting mix or garden soil. Radishes need well-drained soil that is moist but not waterlogged.
Next, sow the seeds about 1/2 inch deep and 2 inches apart. Once they germinate (in 5-7 days), thin them out so only the strongest seedlings remain. Be sure to keep the soil evenly moist during this process. Too much or too little water can both cause problems. Water your plants once or twice per week, depending on how dry the top layer of soil feels. If it’s crumbly and light-colored, it needs watering; if it’s dark-colored and wet feeling, it doesn’t need any more water yet.
To harvest your radishes, once they’ve grown big enough (usually around 4 weeks), simply pull them up by their leaves! Trim off any yellowed leaves before storing them in the refrigerator where they will keep fresh for several days. That’s all there is to it! With just a little bit of effort, you can enjoy delicious and nutritious radishes that you grew yourself – indoors!
3 . Cucumbers
Cucumbers are a great addition to any salad, and they’re relatively easy to grow indoors as well! To start growing cucumbers indoors, you’ll need to purchase some plants or seeds, either online or from your local nursery or garden center. Once you have your plants or seeds, fill pots with fresh potting soil and place them in an area that gets plenty of sunlight. Water your cucumber plants regularly and fertilize them every few weeks using a water-soluble fertilizer designed for vegetables.
Pests and diseases can be problems when growing cucumbers Indoors, so it’s important to check your plants frequently for signs of trouble. If you see any pests on the leaves of your plant, remove them by hand or use an insecticidal soap spray to get rid of them completely. Diseases such as powdery mildew, downy mildew, mosaic virus, and bacterial wilt can also affect indoor cucumber plants, so watch out for these as well. Treat diseased plants with a fungicide, following the package directions carefully.
With proper care, you should start seeing small yellow flowers form on your indoor cucumber vines within two months after planting.
At this point, the plants need pollinating, so you’ll need to place the pots outside on your balcony, porch, or patio. Keep them out of direct sunlight but not so shaded that they don’t get plenty of light.
After pollination (which bees typically take care of), fruits will begin swell and mature over a period of four-seven days into full-size cucumbers. Depending upon temperature conditions inside the house fruit may ripen earlier than this. In fact, one danger is picking too late, letting the vine become “woody “ and making the produce unpalatable.
To avoid missing harvesting time, look closely at the developing color pattern. As soon as the color begins to change and at the point where the length and width are no longer uniform, it’s time to harvest. If you act quickly, it’s also possible to enjoy a second slightly smaller crop in the same season. This often happens around mid-September depending on your climate.
Yes, you can grow tomatoes indoors! Start with a healthy plant. Get your tomato plants from a reputable source, and make sure they’re well-rooted and disease-free. Next, choose the right container. Tomato plants need room to grow, so choose a pot that’s at least 12-inches wide and deep. Be sure the pot has drainage holes in the bottom.
Tomato plants need lots of sunlight to produce fruit, so place your pot near a sunny window. If you don’t have enough natural light, supplement with artificial lighting for 14 hours per day.
Keep the temperature consistent. Tomatoes like warm temperatures, so keep your indoor space between 65°F and 75°F during the daytime. At night, the temperature can drop up to 5° F without harming your plants, . Use a thermometer placed near your plants to monitor conditions easily.
Tomato plants need about an inch of water per week, so be sure to check the soil often and water when necessary. If the leaves start to turn yellow, that’s a sign that your plant is getting too much or too little water.
Fertilize monthly. Use a tomato fertilizer formulated for indoor plants and follow the package directions. You can also use compost or manure to fertilize your plants instead of chemical products, but many find this too smelly for indoor gardening. With a little care, you can grow healthy tomatoes indoors that are perfect for salads all summer long!
Sweet or hot peppers are a great addition to any salad (and they’re also pretty easy to grow indoors). Before you can grow peppers indoors, you’ll need to decide what kind of pepper plant you want to grow. Bell peppers are a good choice for indoor gardening because they don’t require as much space as other varieties.
Once you’ve chosen your plant, make sure to get a pot that is large enough for the roots. Fill the pot with soil mix and water it well so that the soil is damp but not soaking wet. Place your seedling in the pot and cover it with more soil mix, then water again gently.
Now that your pepper plant is potted, place it in a sunny spot near a window where it will get at least six hours of sunlight per day. If possible, use a grow light to give your plant even more light, since this will encourage better growth. Keep an eye on the temperature of its environment—peppers like it warm (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day and slightly cooler (60 degrees) at night.
Water your pepper plant regularly so the soil stays moist but not soggy—you may need to do this every few days or once weekly, depending on conditions such as humidity levels in your home. You should also fertilize every two weeks using general-purpose fertilizer diluted according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Peppers typically take 60-90 days from planting until they are ready to harvest—wait until they are firm before picking them off of the stem.
Growing Salad Ingredients Indoors – The Wrap-up
With just a little bit of time and effort, you can enjoy fresh salad ingredients all summer long – even if you don’t have a green thumb or an outdoor space!