Apartment Vegetable Garden (7 Vegetables You Can Grow Indoors)

Even if your apartment doesn’t have a balcony, you can grow your own vegetables. Indoor growing requires a bit more initial setup, but it can actually be easier than outdoor gardening, especially if you have physical limitations. All you need is a light source, growing medium, growing containers, and the right vegetable varieties.

However, it’s important to remember that while you can technically grow most vegetables indoors, some are easier than others. The easiest types of vegetables to grow indoors are cool-season leafy greens. They don’t need as much sun and they like temperatures on the cooler side, perfect for most apartments. They’re also faster to grow to harvest than warm-season crops and don’t need pollination.

Plants like zucchini and squash take a long time to grow, need huge pots and pollination, and need a lot of sunlight.

While you can use any seed variety, you’ll find it easier if you use dwarf or compact varieties that were bred for containers. This doesn’t mean you can only use F-1 hybrids and not heirlooms. You can find many heirlooms that have been bred to be compact.

Indoor gardening usually means few or no pests problems. But if pests set in, you’ll have a much harder time controlling them than in outdoor gardening. So check your plants often! The sooner you catch pests, the easier it is to control them.

Ready? Let’s begin.

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Apartment Vegetable Garden

Yes, you can grow your own vegetables in an apartment, even if you don’t have a balcony. You just need a bit more upfront investment and setup.

To grow vegetables, you’ll need:

  • A light source. All plants need light to grow, and vegetables are no exception. A sunny window can work for cool-season plants like lettuce and spinach, but they still benefit from quality grow lights. If your plants aren’t growing very quickly, they probably need more light. When using grow lights, keep your plants in a place that you don’t look at often, as the brightness can strain your eyes.
  • Growing medium. For a soil-based approach, choose an organic potting mix made for vegetables. Organic is important, as conventional potting mixes may be laced with chemicals you don’t want in your food or your home. If you hate the idea of potting mix in your apartment, look into hydroponics. You can start off with the Kratky method to grow some lettuce, build yourself a window farm using plastic bottles, or buy a ready-made system. 
  • Growing container. Whichever method you use, your plant needs something to grow in. If you’re using a potting mix, you can make a container out of anything, even the plastic tubs that salad greens come in. Just make sure that plastic containers are food-safe to avoid chemicals leaking into your potting mix and that you add drainage holes to avoid overwatering. Investing in standardized pots can make a lot of things easier, especially when you’re trying to grow more plants in less space. If you know you’re going to forget to water, then invest in or DIY a self-watering pot. 
  • Air circulation. If you’ve set up your plants out in the open, you probably won’t need to worry about this. But if you keep your plants in a corner or closet, or have high humidity, you will need to invest in a small fan. Air circulation will help keep mold problems down. Plants also grow stronger when they’re given a bit of wind. 
  • Fertilizer. If you’re growing salad greens once before tossing aside the potting mix, then you won’t need any additional fertilizer. But if you’re growing plants for longer, give them an organic liquid fertilizer like kelp or seaweed. Fertilize leafy greens and herbs monthly, and fruiting plants every 2 weeks. 

7 Vegetables You Can Grow Indoors

#1 Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

hydroponic lettuce 10
You can grow lettuce indoors with either a hydroponic or a soil-based setup.

Type: Annual Cool-Season

Pot Size: Flats or 6 inch pot

Light Requirement: 4 – 6 hours of direct light, 8 hours grow light

Water Requirement: Medium

Harvest: 35 to 40 days

Maintenance: Low

Lettuce is amazingly simple to grow indoors when you use the cut-and-come-again method. You just harvest the outside leaves while leaving the inner leaves to grow. Using this method, you can keep a lettuce plant going for weeks. 

Lettuce is a cool-season crop, meaning it needs cooler temperatures and less light than warm-season crops. So if you’ve got a reasonably sunny window (east or west facing), you can grow lettuce. You could probably even grow it in a north-facing window given enough daylight hours, although it will grow slower. But if temperatures get too hot, the lettuce will bolt (grow a stock). The leaves become too bitter to eat. 

The best lettuce varieties to grow indoors are butterheads, romaine, and loose leaf. Butterheads form a head of lettuce, but their leaves grow loosely enough for cut-and-come-again harvesting. Romaine grows narrowly, taking up less horizontal space. And loose leaf lettuces grow tons of leaves that are easy to pick but are less compact.

#2 Arugula/Rocket (Eruca sativa, Diplotaxis tenuifolia)

3 arugula
Arugula is a strong-tasting green that you can develop a taste for – it goes well in salad or as a garnish.

Type: Annual/Perennial Cool-Season

Pot Size: Flats or 8 inch pot that is 6 inches deep (cultivate more thickly for baby leaf)

Light Requirement: 4 – 6 hours of direct light, 8 hours under grow light

Water Requirement: Medium

Harvest: 35 to 50 days

Maintenance: Low

Arugula is a fantastic plant to grow indoors, as it’s expensive to buy at the store but very easy to grow.

There are two species that we call arugula, Arugula (Eruca sativa) and Wild Arugula (Diplotaxis tenuifolia). 

E. sativa is what you normally find in grocery stores because it grows faster and has a milder taste. It’s also annual, so there’s a time limit on how long you can keep harvesting.  

Wild Arugula is a perennial plant that has a bolder peppery taste that many people love. It has higher heat resistance, so it’s a better choice if you keep your house hot or use a window with a lot of direct sun. 

Different varieties within each will have different taste profiles and needs, so pick whichever appeals to you.

Whichever arugula you choose to grow, sow it directly into the container that you want it to grow in, as they don’t like to be transplanted. Start harvesting by picking leaves when the lobes fill in (always leave some leaves so it can keep growing). 

#3 Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)

Spinach is another cool-season leafy green that is easy to grow indoors.

Type: Annual Cool-Season

Pot Size: 3 to 4 plants in a 14 inch pot, with a depth of 6 to 12 inches

Light Requirement: 4 – 6 hours of direct light, 8 hours of grow light

Water Requirement: Keep soil moist but not soggy

Harvest: 35 to 45 days

Maintenance: Low

Many gardeners have struggled to grow spinach outside, but it’s so much easier to grow spinach indoors. Conventionally-grown spinach is also on the EWG Dirty Dozen list. Growing it at home is a great way to eat organic, save money, and still get all the benefits of eating spinach. 

Spinach is a cool-season crop, preferring less light and heat (great to grow throughout the winter). It grows very quickly and you can harvest the outer leaves for a continual harvest. Since spinach grows a tap root, you need to use a pot that is at least 6 inches deep for baby spinach, or 10 to 12 inches deep for adult spinach. Sow directly in the growing container as it’s difficult to transplant. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. 

Look for baby leaf types like Baby’s Leaf or Catalina, since they grow the best in containers.

#4 Micro Tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum)

cherry tomato plant
Tiny tomato plants (micro tomatoes) don’t take up much space, so they are an option for growing indoors.

Type: Annual Warm-Season

Pot Size: 1 Gallon Pot

Mature Size: 1 to 1.5 feet tall

Light Requirement: 7+ hours of direct sunlight, or 14 hours of grow lights

Water Requirement: Medium

Harvest: 90 to 110 days

Maintenance: Medium

Just because you have a small space doesn’t mean that you can’t grow tomatoes. While technically you can grow any tomato indoors, micro tomatoes will give you the most bang. Micro tomatoes grow compactly (under a foot tall) but produce abundantly. And they taste amazing.

Most micro tomato varieties will be cherry tomatoes. Some will be hanging plants (the vines will hang over the edge of the pot) while others grow upright (benefiting from a stake to hold them up when they’re heavy with tomatoes). 

Tomatoes are a warm-season crop, so they need a lot of time to grow, and love heat and sun. While you might get enough light through a south-facing window, it’s best to use a grow light. Most apartments will be warm enough in the winter for them to grow, but keep them away from cold drafts and windows. If you keep your tomato plant on a south-facing window, keep it off the ledge, and have a drape you can close overnight. 

Tomatoes are self-pollinating 96% of the time, so for the most part, you don’t need to worry about pollination indoors. They just need their flowers to be jostled, so the flower releases its pollen onto the female part of the flower. A fan (which many indoor growers use to keep down mold and fungus issues) should be enough to jostle them. 

#5 Strawberries (Fragaria spp.)

strawberry plant
Strawberries can grow indoors, but you might need to pollinate by hand to get more fruit.

Type: Perennial

Pot Size: 12 inches wide, 12 inches deep for every 1 to 3 plants

Mature Size: 12 inches tall

Light Requirement: 6 – 8 hours direct sunlight, 12 – 16 hours artificial light

Water Requirement: Medium

Maintenance: Medium

Strawberries are easy to grow inside, but few people think to do it. You can even just buy a hanging planter of strawberries from the grocery store nursery. So long as they get enough light, they’ll continue to produce during the winter. You won’t be harvesting tons of strawberries, maybe one or two every few weeks, but they make a decadent treat in the midst of a harsh winter.

Like tomato plants, strawberries can technically pollinate themselves. But their flower structure makes that much harder to do. You may need to hand pollinate, using a brush to sweep the pollen from the statement to the center of the flower. 

For strawberries year round, look for day-neutral varieties like Albion, Seascape, and Tristar. They aren’t affected by the short days in winter and they produce in their first year, unlike June-bearing varieties. 

#6 Sprouts

pea sprouts
Here we see pea sprouts – just one type of sprout you can grow in a short time, indoors or outdoors.

Type: Annual

Pot Size: Mason Jar

Light Requirement: Some indirect sunlight

Water Requirement: Rinse daily

Harvest: Within 2 to 6 days, depending on type

Maintenance: Low

Sprouts are expensive to buy in the store, but they’re really easy and fast to grow, and they’re super nutritious. They’re even easier than microgreens, and they’ll give you an extra crunch. All you need is a mason jar, a screen or cheese cloth, and something to invert it. You can also invest in a system that makes growing sprouts easier.

Sprouts are vegetables that have only just sprouted. You can grow leafy sprouts like red clover, radish, and arugula, or short sprouts like mung beans and lentils. 

To start, soak the seeds in water in a jar. How long depends on the type of sprout, so follow the instructions on the seed packet. Drain the water and invert it so that any excess water can continue to drain. Keep the jar out of direct sunlight. 

Rinse the seeds in water once or twice daily and drain as much water out as possible. Mold poses the biggest threat to sprouts, but as long as they can dry out and it’s not too hot or humid, you shouldn’t have problems. If you suspect your sprouts are moldy, throw them out. Thin white hairs on the roots can be mistaken for mold, but it’s just the root seeking more moisture. They go away when watered while mold remains and smells moldy.

Once the sprouts are ready, rinse them again, and they’re ready to eat. Store the rest in the fridge.

Don’t use regular seeds for sprouts. Buy seeds that are especially packaged for sprouting, as they won’t have as many mold issues. 

#7 Herbs

basil herb
Basil is just one type of herb you can grow indoors – you can learn more about how to grow it here.

Herbs are a classic beginner gardening project for a reason: they’re easy and you can harvest them right before you cook them for the best flavor. We’ve even put together a guide on the best herbs to grow. 

Although we normally think of herbs just as seasoning, they are a subset of vegetables. Fresh herbs are as beneficial nutritionally as leafy greens and you can easily replace half of your salad with fresh leafy herbs picked from your indoor garden.

Which herbs should you grow? Whichever you use in your cooking! You can easily pick up a potted basil plant at a grocery store. Rosemary and thyme make excellent shrubby kitchen plants. Lovage is a great alternative to celery and celery leaves in recipes. 


Growing vegetables inside an apartment is easier than you’d think. Start with a vegetable you love to eat, then just give it enough light and water to grow.

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Jon M

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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