The Best Edible Plants to Grow Indoors During a Pandemic
With the exponential spread of COVID-19, people have been isolating themselves for the safety of all. But this means we can’t always pop down to the store for everything we need. It also means that supplies may run low, including your favorite superfoods. You may even be wondering what you can grow indoors during a Coronavirus lockdown.
Nutrition is more important than ever when your health may be at risk. And many people are expanding their home gardens for this very reason — along with the mental health benefits of being outdoors. But what about those with no backyard or room to garden?
Luckily, you don’t need to swing by the farmer’s market or do without those fresh, nutrient dense foods when you’re stuck indoors or living in an apartment.
Here is our list of the best edible plants to grow indoors during the Coronavirus lockdown.
Herbs That Boost Your Immune System
Some herbs are popular because of their positive effect on our immune system, so they’re a natural choice for growing indoors.
Ginger adds a zingy flavor to many Asian dishes and is easy to grow indoors. All you need to do is plant a piece of the rhizome (root) in rich soil, keep it moist, and keep it warm. It’s particularly suitable for growing indoors, as its natural habitat is the warm tropics in lower light levels.
Ginger works as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Once your root pieces begin to shoot and grow leaves, the roots will also spread and grow. You can harvest small pieces of the root as needed for cooking or tea.
Like ginger, turmeric is easy to grow indoors under artificial light. Just plant a piece of fresh root from the grocery store in moist potting soil. Once it develops leaves and spreads, you can harvest as much of the root as you need for cooking. Turmeric likes to be kept moist and prefers plenty of sunlight.
Most importantly, even in low doses it can improve your body’s own immune response, thanks to the high levels of curcumin in the root.
As well as helping you create amazing Italian comfort food while self-isolating, oregano has positive anti-inflammatory effects on the immune system, as well as anti-bacterial effects on the digestive system.
You can grow it easily from seed but purchasing a plant at your local home center is a good idea if you can. Oregano likes good drainage with light watering, as well as warmth and bright sunlight. Luckily, it grows beautifully under LED grow lights. Best of all, it will continue to grow for years if you harvest carefully.
Mushrooms are rich in complex polysaccharides called Beta-glucans that help activate the human immune system. Best of all, you can buy an all-in-one kit online for a wide variety of mushroom types, include reiki and shitake. All you’ll need is a dark place and a spritz bottle of water to keep them moist.
Fast Growing Crops
No one knows how long the current pandemic crisis will last, but you may prefer to start with edible plants that grow quickly. Here are some top choices for ease of care, speed of growth, and nutritional value.
Did you know you can get all the nutrition and antioxidant properties of broccoli by growing the sprouts in about 10 days.
Broccoli sprouts have been shown to contain high levels of sulforaphane. This phytochemical increases the enzymes that fight inflammation in the upper respiratory system.
A recent study showed that sulforaphane improved immunity against the devastating effects of the flu, so it may be the first thing you want to grow during a coronavirus lockdown.
You can grow broccoli sprouts in a jar by soaking the seeds in water and rinsing them twice a day. You can also germinate them in a shallow dish of potting soil, keeping them moist by spritzing with water. They’ll be ready to harvest in about two weeks, and you can add them to salads or stir fry dishes.
Arugula, also known as Rocket, is a delicious and spicy vegetable you can easily grow during a coronavirus lockdown. Although it looks a bit like leaf lettuce, it’s a member of the cruciferous family, like cauliflower and broccoli. It also has many of the same benefits, like high levels of sulforaphane.
Arugula grows quickly — simply sow in a long, shallow planter and keep moist under your LED grow lights or in a south-facing windowsill. You can harvest the leaves individually when they grow to be 4 or more inches long.
For a longer harvest, sow your arugula seeds in succession, planting one pot of arugula every week during your isolation period. That way, you can harvest some greens every day.
If you find them too spicy, you can mix with lettuce in a salad or sauté them to mellow the flavor.
While they may not pack a big nutritional punch, leaf lettuce will certainly give your lockdown meals a freshness you may not get otherwise. Loose-leaf lettuces come in a wide variety of colors and flavors, and most importantly, they’re easy and quick to grow.
Cut and come again lettuces provide a nearly endless supply of crisp freshness to meals. Like Arugula, you can sow your containers in succession and harvest what you need as you need it.
Tomatoes can take a long time to grow from seed, so purchase a fully grown plant from your local nursery or home center. Look for patio or cherry size tomatoes that are ready to fruit. Many stores sell them in large, sturdy containers with a small trellis for support.
These container variety tomatoes do well under full-spectrum grow lights or on balconies.
Bush Beans and Peas
These two vegetables are a good choice if you want to get your kids involved in growing indoors during a coronavirus lockdown. These two vegetables are especially easy for little hands to plant because the seeds are so big. They also grow very quickly.
Use large pots for these plants, but sow bush beans 4 inches apart and peas 1 inch apart.
Re-growing Food Scraps
Maybe you’ve seen videos on social media showing people re-growing food from the scraps of store-bought vegetables. You can grow many foods indoors from scraps, like the ginger and turmeric we mentioned above.
It’s especially handy when you want to reduce the number of trips you take to the store without reducing the variety in your diet.
Some of the easiest ones to grow from just the base of the roots are:
- Green onion
For cabbage, fennel, and green onion, plant the root base in a container with potting soil and keep moist. Once the roots begin to grow, add sufficient light and water less frequently until they grow to maturity.
For turnip and beet greens, plant the base of the root in a container with potting soil. Once they take off, you can harvest the leaves when they grow for delicious wilted salads.
While the world-wide pandemic situation is uncertain, there are many things you can do to take control of your own health. Adding nutrient-dense vegetables to your diet is a no-brainer.
And let’s face it, finding productive ways to use this time of quarantine and social distancing can help restore your sense of balance. It’s also a fantastic way to keep your children occupied and feeling like they’re making a contribution.
Planting foods to grow indoors during a coronavirus lockdown may be one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and your family right now. The good news is that it’s easy and fun too.