So there I was, toiling away in garden #3, getting my tomato and pepper transplants tucked in, and my mind wandered a bit. It takes a LOT of ground to produce enough food to meet even modest food goals. I am usually thinking about the prices of vegetables versus the space they take in the garden (feet squared). Not that it’s the only criteria, there are things I grow just for the pleasure of growing them. I wondered though if the thinking would have to change if one had to grow solely indoors for some reason.
I wouldn’t be able to trade large amounts of space for large harvests. Instead I would need varieties that produced lots of vitamins per inch. And crops that don’t need large amounts of light or heat to mature.
Fruits and flowers take more energy for the plant than roots and leaves. Mature seeds take even more than fruits and flowers, i.e. grains, or dried beans. So you have to stick to the low energy forms of edibles, the leaves and sometimes roots.
Let’s say you have a large sort of living room window, and it’s the perfect big window, facing South. Put up as many plant shelves as possible, leaving room obviously for the plants to grow. I would focus on things like lettuces, smaller kales, spinach, sprouts and radishes. Herbs too, basils, oregano, chives and cilantro.
None of those things, with only a window’s worth is going to make a complete diet, but if you can get in 3 rounds of planting on most of the shelves, you can have a lot of fresh food for side dishes. Most of the crops I mentioned are fast growing enough you could do it.
They could also stretch and improve the ready-made survival type foods that you could be living on if all food is being grown indoors. Pasta dishes could use the herbs and perhaps some wilted greens. Stir fry dishes could incorporate any and all. Soups could have herbs and greens added.
Things you would need to have on hand to pull it off gracefully:
- Seeds, lots of seeds. 3 succession plantings, or more like 6 for the sprouts, means a TON of seeds. The sprouting seeds are usually sold by the pound.
- Some liquid fertilizer, since you won’t have any natural forms of fertility.
- Unless you also put a fish tank in series with the shelves and use fishy water to water the vegetables, but that’s advanced level food growing.
- Fats to serve with the greens, either as a salad dressing or as a cooking oil.
- Growing medium, whether it’s dirt or potting soil or some sort of hydro setup.
What do you think? Anybody mused about this one? Did I miss a good variety to grow in that situation? Sound off in the comments!
– Jennie Erwin