Plants

Indoor gardening: 3 tasty fruits and vegetables you can grow on a sunny kitchen windowsill

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Lauren Geall
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Felicity Hart
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Chilli plant

Want to grow your own fruit and vegetables, but don’t have any outdoor space? Check out these growing tips from Felicity Hart, the author of the new book My Tiny Kitchen Garden.

It’s no secret that gardening can be beneficial for our mental health and wellbeing – but a lack of outdoor space means many people often feel unable to reap the benefits of this calming hobby.

However, while owning an outdoor space is something many of us dream of, you don’t need a balcony or garden to start growing your own crops. In fact, all you really need is a sunny kitchen windowsill.

While you won’t be able to grow quite as many varieties of fruits and vegetables as you might be able to outside, indoor gardening can be surprisingly lucrative – you just need to know where to start. 

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That’s the premise behind the new book My Tiny Kitchen Garden by Felicity Hart, which is bursting with useful tips, tricks and techniques for starting and nurturing your very own kitchen garden.

“Many plants can thrive indoors, under the right conditions,” Hart writes in the book. “In fact, depending on your climate, some plants may prefer it. A sunny spot under a lot of glass may suit ‘hothouse’ plants, such as chillies, better than a temperate, blustery or cool climate.

“The key is knowing your space. Before you choose a plant, set up a thermometer and record the temperature at different times of day, including at night, so you know the average conditions in your chosen area.”

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Hart adds: “Well-prepared gardeners may also like to photograph the room throughout the day in order to get a good idea of light levels.”

Of course, one of the key things you’ll need to know before you start kitchen gardening which crops you can grow – and that’s where this article comes in.

Below, you’ll find three of the tasty fruits and vegetables Hart recommends for growing indoors, as well as the growing conditions you’ll need, her top tips and any recipes you can use your produce in. 

The following is an extract from My Tiny Kitchen Garden by Felicity Hart

  • Chillies (indoor and outdoor plant)

    A chilli plant in a terracotta pot
    Chilli plants need lots of sun to flourish.

    Chillies are sun-sponges that need at least six hours of direct sunlight to flourish. Gardeners with warm climates and balconies, courtyards or paved gardens have the upper hand here – the brick and stone create wonderful suntraps. Step out of the ordinary by growing your own chillies – the range and colours and flavours far outpaces the chillies commonly available in shops.

    Growing conditions: Sunlight and warmth are the essential ingredients for chillies. Grow in full sun, whether in a sunny outdoor spot or indoors on a bright windowsill. Cane plants when fruit starts to form, as the stems will bow under the weight.

    Top tips: Chillies can be picked green or red (or orange or black – there are a rainbow of varieties), depending on your taste. Green chillies have a fresh bite to them while the riper red fruits are sweeter. Hold back on the water for a smaller, but hotter, crop.

    Recipes: What recipe doesn’t benefit from added chillies? Blitz green chillies with oil, lemon, coriander and salt for a zesty chutney. Include stems when picking chillies and weave or tie together, then hang for DIY dried chillies.  

  • Mung Bean Sprouts (indoor plant)

    A jar of mung bean sprouts
    Mung bean sprouts grow really fast, so you can have fresh sprouts in under a week.

    All you need to grow mung bean sprouts is a shady countertop or a drawer. They are the perfect project for the tiniest of kitchen gardens. As a bonus, they grow fast and are tasty additions to many meals. All hail the tiny but mighty mung bean!

    Growing conditions: Mung beans don’t even need soil to grow. Simply measure several tablespoons of beans into a jar, cover with muslin or a breathable fabric and fill with water until the beans are covered (pouring through the material). Soak overnight, rinse, refill and repeat over several days. You’ll be munching on mung bean sprouts within five-six days.

    Top tips: Keep the sprouts at room temperature. Store the growing jar away from the light in order to produce a white bean sprout. Sprouts that are exposed to light gain a green tinge and the flavour alters. Both white and green-tinged sprouts are edible – it’s a matter of personal taste.

    Recipes: Mung bean sprouts add a tasty crunch to foods such as stir fries and Asian salads. Foodies can also add them to home-made spring rolls. 

  • Peppers/Capsicums (indoor and outdoor plant)

    A pepper plant with one red pepper
    Peppers can be used in a variety of dishes.

    Tiny kitchen gardeners can optimize their sunniest indoor spots by growing sweet peppers. The bright fruits bring joy to the room – and flavour to your dishes.

    Growing conditions: Peppers require plenty of sun and plenty of feed. Grow one pepper plant per container and water regularly, opting for a water-retentive soil.

    Top tips: Pinch out the growths between stems to encourage better fruit growth. Pepper plants will need caning once the plant starts to fruit. Check your plant regularly to see if it needs further support.

    Recipes: Peppers are a mighty all-rounder. Treat yourself to a nibble when raw to enjoy the sweetness and freshness. As for cooking, peppers bring colour and flavour to stir fries, curries, fried rice and fajitas. Make the pepper the star by stuffing halves with herbed and spiced rice. 

My Tiny Kitchen Garden by Felicity Hart is published by Summersdale Publishers, £8.99

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Author

Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.

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Felicity Hart