Complete Guide To The Best Plants To Grow & Eat At Home

I love farmers’ markets. Over-priced, vegan coffee, attractive ‘farmers’ in lumberjack shirts and fresh, healthy produce that will completely renovate my life if I buy it.

I like picturing myself in my flat, surrounded by plants, with something wholesome and delicious cooking in my little kitchen, as I pluck fresh herbs from the windowsill and toss them into a bubbling saucepan with gay abundance while listening to Al Green and drinking organic, alcohol-free wine.

In my head, buying fresh fruit and veg and making a herb garden in my home will make me a better person. Spiritual, more caring, nicer to people who walk annoyingly-slowly and drag their feet.

More like the Instagram version of myself, which, as we all know, is the ultimate goal. If any of this has resonated with you so far, read on to find out what plants will change your life for the better, in your very own home.

And if you can’t relate to any of it, read on anyway. You’ve made it this far already, be a shame to give up now.



Complete Guide To The Best Plants To Grow and Eat At Home

Basil

This is one of my favorite things in the world – I love the way the leaves are so fresh and green, I love the smell and I absolutely love using it in food.

Basil is very easy to grow (and easy to kill, if you’re as forgetful as I am) and is a great addition to any kitchen. This herb seems to suit so many different styles of cooking and is always so much nicer fresh than from a pot in your spice rack.

Lots of vitamin K in this plant, as well as anti-inflammatory properties. Basil is a great all-rounder for your health and worth adding to meals as often as possible.

Make It Feel at Home

Buy a wide pot with plenty of drainage holes and fill it with soil . Add a little bit of sand if you’re feeling fancy. 

If you just want one plant, pop the seed or seedling in the middle of your pot.

If you’ve got a really wide pot and want a few plants in one space, plant them around fifteen inches apart so they have room to stretch out their roots.

Fertilize the pot every three to four weeks. Naturally, I’d opt for an organic fertilizer to be in keeping with spirit of home-growing.

Keep It Happy

This herb likes the sun and it likes to be warm, just like most of us.

Give it around six hours of sunlight per day and water it often – but bear in mind that the soil needs to be moist, not wet.

Once It's All Grown Up...

When the leaves start getting bigger and the stems reach around five or six inches tall, you can start harvesting.

Add to guacamole, pasta or eat fresh with that ball of mozzarella you carry around with you for emergencies.

Don’t lie, we all do it.

Cilantro

Another of my favorite herbs of all time, cilantro is the second main ingredient in most meals I cook; the first being wine, of course.

Again, very easy to grow and very pretty leaves. It’s surprisingly full with goodness as well as flavor, offering various vitamins (A, C and K, for example) as well as fiber and antioxidants. 

Cilantro is another all-rounder in my kitchen and I chuck it in pretty much everything. Including gin – don’t judge before you try it.

Make It Feel At Home

Buy a nice, deep container – these babies really grow.

Fill the pot almost to the top (ideally, your container will be around eight inches, so leave a couple at the top empty) with soil or potting mix.

Gently press the seeds into the soil and water generously before wrapping the whole thing in Clingfilm.

After a few days, the plants will have pushed through the soil and will be pressing up against the plastic wrap – now’s the time to take it off.

Give them a few more days until they’re nice and tall and let them sit in the sun for a while.

Once It's All Grown Up...

Harvest and enjoy. Make sure to leave some roots in place so that you can grow another batch.

Mint

Ah, mint. The main ingredient in mojitos, mint jelly and After Eights; so about 80% of my diet.

I love mint for its freshness as well as its color, which makes it one of the nicest plants to grow in your home.

It’s super easy to look after, and you get a lot of bang for your buck. Mint also has a huge number of health benefits, such as improving your digestive system.

Fresh mint tea is great to enjoy after a big meal as it aids digestion and acts as a soother for any issues you may have, such as indigestion. 

It may help with weight loss and to calm the mind.

Get Started

Buy a plant or some seedlings. The method is pretty much the same for either option. 

Plant them in a large pot full of soil. Make sure you tuck them in snugly.

Keep It Happy

This is the one time that I'll allow you to smother your plant with love – water your mint a lot.

Really. You want to make sure the soil doesn’t go dry, so check on it as often as you check on your Domino’s order tracker.

Keep the plant in the sun and it’ll flourish quickly. Pick the leaves as you wish and get rid of any that are brownish or limp.

Rosemary

The more herbs I’m listing, the more I’m realizing that they're all my ‘favorite herb’

Rosemary reminds me of summer at my Ma’s house – after late-night barbecues and too much wine, we’d pick fresh rosemary from the garden and leave it on the grill as we unsteadily packed up our hammocks and candles.

The smell was incredible and, even still, a waft of the herb takes me right back. I love the taste, too, probably as my Ma is a genius in the kitchen and uses this in a lot of her French-inspired cooking.

Very easy to grow and to look after, which is always a bonus. Rosemary is also great for your immune system, as well as alleviating muscular pains and aches.

Make It Feel At Home

Bit of a strange one, but sand really comes in handy when you’re planting rosemary.

Fill a container with two parts of soil mix to one part sand (the coarse kind, not the beach kind). Make sure there’s plenty of drainage.

Adding agricultural lime is a good idea as it changes the soil’s pH and makes it more alkaline, aka better for rosemary to grow in.

It’s easiest to plant a rosemary clipping or seedling. Place it in the soil and pack the soil loosely around it.

Leave the container somewhere sunny and water sporadically.

Ideally, the soil will never go fully dry but doesn’t need drenching at all times.

A good drainage system will really come in handy here.

Some people suggest keeping a fan near the rosemary to help circulate the air around it.

If you’ve already looked elsewhere for tips on growing this herb indoors, you’ll have heard some horror stories about mildew.

Circulating the air keeps mildew at bay and will help your plant grow and stay strong.

When It's All Grown Up...

Harvest when it looks ready – tall, healthy-looking stems are a winner.

Leave some root and don’t take all the leaves from one stalk. 

This plant should grow year-round, so there’ll be plenty more soon enough…

Ginger

This is my go-to herb for so many things and I like to carry around chunks of root with me. Bit weird, I know, but it tastes good, it’s great for nausea and it’s really good for your body.

It can be really helpful for anyone suffering from IBS, as well as aiding digestion in general. It calms any inflammation and is meant to help relieve any period pain.

Any pregnant ladies, take note – it’s one of the best, natural aids for morning sickness.

Or all-day sickness, really. It’s great to eat raw but also tastes delicious mixed in with stir-fries, fresh/ raw juices and, of course, cake.

Happily, it’s also very easy to grow. No, really.

It's a No-Brainer...

My favorite ‘method’ so far. Buy ginger. Put ginger in container of soil. Cover ginger with soil. Put ginger in sun. Water ginger occasionally. Get more ginger.


Fruit


Avocados

avocado

The staple of any hipster-brunch, avocados have been the it-fruit for a long time and they’re showing no signs of stopping.

Not only are they super healthy and packed full of goodness, they also taste delicious.

Avocados are full of anti-oxidants and are crammed with the good kind of fat – monounsaturated.

They’ve been proven to help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and improve the condition of your hair, skin and nails. The gift that keeps on giving.

No more spending all your wages on these green beauties – you can easily grow them in your own home!

Make It Feel At Home

Annoyingly, the seed from your average avocado might not actually produce anything that's safe to eat. 

Instead, invest in a one-off purchase of a mini avocado tree. Not only are these dwarf-plants completely adorable, they’re easier to look after than raising a plant from the pit.

Layer a big plant pot – sand at the bottom, topped up with soil.

Make sure it’s got draining holes in the bottom and add pebbles or small stones if you have some handy.

Pop your plant in and water regularly. Don’t drown the thing, but make sure the soil doesn’t get dry.

Once They're Big and Strong...

Give it plenty of room to grow, as these things can get pretty tall. When the avocados start growing, try not to get too excited and pluck them all immediately!

Give them some time, and, when they’re plump and ripe, enjoy them spread on wholegrain toast, topped with a poached egg that’s swelling with a bright yellow, gooey yolk ready to cascade everywhere, dusted with cracked black pepper and lime zest and a grilled spear of organic asparagus.

There’s a strong chance I’m very hungry whilst writing this.

Lemons

Zesty, packed with vitamin C and great with most gin. Growing lemons is a lot more fun than it sounds, and the glorious yellow orbs that'll appear on your tree are very satisfying to watch.

Lemons are great for helping you get over your cold as they're crammed with vitamins.

They also contain lots of potassium and magnesium to keep all your nutrient levels topped up year-round. Kill two birds with one stone.

Boost your immune system and give your home a splash of color.

How to Get Started

Again, easier to grow from a mini-plant than from seed.

Treat yourself to a ceramic pot and imagine you’re living in the Med somewhere, smothered in olive oil and doing whatever it is they do over there that makes them so sexy.

You can get a plastic pot if you really want to, but my fantasy works better with ceramic. Whatever. Either way, just make sure it’s got good drainage.

Pop some stones or pebbles in the bottom and fill with soil. Ask at your local nursery for soil designed for citrus plants as it’s normally more acidic than most. Add your little tree and leave it somewhere sunny.

Keep the soil damp, not soggy. Spray bottles really come in handy here, as they allow you to chase away the neighbor’s cat as well as keeping the tree’s leaves nice and moist. A real multi-tasker.

Be Patient...

Just like with human babies, these little citrus babies take around nine months to… ripen.

Make sure the whole lemon is nice and yellow before picking, as this shows full ripeness. They should be a little bit squishy, too.

Just imagine how store-lemons feel when you buy them and you’re on the right track.

Oranges

From one citrusy wonder to another. Mandarins, aka the best type of orange, are easy to grow at home and the plants give off a wonderful scent in your home.

Get rid of your Yankee Candle and enjoy the real thing. Not that I don’t love Yankee Candles – who doesn’t want their bathroom to smell of ‘A Child’s Wish’? (Pretty sure my wish as a child was cake, so I guess it could be worse…).

oranges

Anyway – back to healthy, adult things like growing your own fruit. These babies are packed full of vitamin C and are therefore really good for you.

Oranges also lower cholesterol and are believed to lower the risk of various types of cancer, as well as strokes.

A great snack at all times of year, especially to stave off the dreaded winter cold, thanks to their immune-boosting properties.

Get Growing

As with lemons, sort yourself out with a mini-tree and save yourself time and despair.

Give the plant lots of room and get a pot that’s going to drain well.

Let it rest in a place that gets the most sunlight possible and make sure it’s always damp enough – dry soil is bad; wet solid is bad.

You want a nice, moist middle-ground (that is not as filthy as it sounds, I promise).

Make sure you keep an eye on these things as they grow, as you really want the freshest, sweetest flavor possible – this is achieved by harvesting the fruit as soon as it begins to ripen.

At the sign of the glorious orange color, pluck and enjoy.

Tomatoes

I have a love-hate relationship with tomatoes. I don’t really like them unless they’re in pizza sauce. Or a caprese salad with plenty of mozzarella.

Other than that, I’m not really fussed. That said, the plants are lovely to grow and nearly always give you lots of fruit.

They’re pretty healthy, too, and promote a healthy heart. They have anti-inflammatory properties and also contain lots of lovely vitamins and goodness.

The How-To

Get yourself a nice pot and some potting mix. Easy enough.

Plant the seeds about a quarter of an inch into the soil mix and leave adequate space between seeds. I’d suggest planting two or three seeds per pot, based on a six-inch pot.

For more plants, upgrade to a twelve-inch pot so they have plenty of room.

Spray the soil with water every day, keeping it nice and moist. After about a week, you’ll see some seedlings break through the surface.

As they grow bigger, you can water them less but still check on them at least once a day.

As the plant grows bigger, you can add a rod to the pot to help the plant grow upright. Alternatively, transfer the plant outdoors.

I prefer to keep the tomato plants inside and watch as the little buds turn into juicy, ripe tomatoes.


Vegetables


vegetables

Sprouts

No, not those ones. Nobody likes them anyway. I’m talking about micro-sprouts.

Delicious and surprisingly full of nutrients despite being so tiny (apparently more so than the bigger versions of themselves).

Good in salads. Looks good in photos. Basically, everything you could want from a food. Micro-sprouts are essentially mini versions of plants – the seedlings, if you will.

My favorites include mini-kale, mini-chard and alfalfa sprouts. There’s a lot of concentrated goodness in these sprouts and they’re super easy to grow indoors.

Grow Your Own

Get yourself a nice, shallow tray – remember, these babies will be teeny so you don’t need anything fancy. The tray needs to have at least one small hole for drainage, too.

You’re also going to want some soil designed for potted plants (potting mix) for them to feed off while they grow.

Fill the tray with your soil mix and add a little water to moisten it. Don’t drench it; you just want it to be slightly damp in preparation for…

Adding the seeds! Sprinkle them over the surface of the soil. Treat them like your friends – keep them close but give them room to grow.

See what I did there?

Cover them with a light layer of soil so they’re just hidden. Again, add a little bit of water and leave them somewhere sunny – windowsills work well!

 Spritz them up every day, using a spray bottle to lightly mist over the growing seeds if you have one.

If not, shake wet hands over it like the hand-dryer isn’t working and there are no paper towels left in the staff loo.

When They're Ready...

Unlike with most diets, you’ll begin to see results within a week.

The seedlings will just be starting to push through the soil. You’ll want to keep the soil wet, without splashing all over the fragile leaves while they’re still growing.

Within a month or so, your plant-babies will be a couple of inches tall and will have sprouted more leaves.

This means they’re ripe for the picking – trim them gently, leaving enough stem at the bottom so that you can re-use the root.

You’ll be left with an inch or so of delicious micro-sprout which will stay fresh in a ziplock bag in your fridge for almost a week. Lovely stuff.

Greens

As a kid, I hated eating them; as an adult, I love growing them and pretend to enjoy eating them in the same way that I pretend to have my life together.

Luckily, the ordeal of finding a dressing strong enough for me to bear eating salad is way more stressful than actually growing it.

In fact, salad greens are really easy to grow and are, of course, very good for you.

For one thing, you provide you with some much-needed fiber. This is great for your digestive system and will keep things regular. Happy days.

Leafy greens are also packed with essential minerals and vitamins to keep your body running smoothly.

They help lower the risk of a number of health problems, including diabetes and heart conditions.

The How-To

Your pot will need some drainage holes so that your plants don’t become waterlogged. Get yourself some potting mix and fill up your tray.

Make indents with your fingers in the soil – about three or four inches apart from each other, up to the first knuckle on your finger.

Add a couple of seeds per indent so that they can keep each other company, and gently cover them up with more potting mix.

Water them every day – again, not so much that the soil is wet and soggy.

When they get big enough, pluck off the outside leaves and leave the roots untouched.

Add to the side of your plate so that you look as though you’re making a gesture towards being healthy. Eat your taco and leave the salad. You tried.

Mushrooms

Massively-underrated, the humble mushroom is easy to grow and is great for padding out meals if you’re veggie/ vegan.

Deep-fried and smothered in garlic butter that I'll inevitably burn my mouth with is my preference, but they’re great for lots of different, healthier meals, too.

First off, mushrooms are really low in calories, which is always a good thing.

They're also cholesterol-free, which I didn’t know was actually possible for something that tastes so good. Admittedly, my butter version may not be so virtuous.

Mushrooms are also a good source of fiber and potassium, just like bananas.

Take the Easy Option

Buy yourself a mushroom-growing kit and save yourself a lot of hassle.

It still counts as growing it yourself, it’s just a lot easier than rearing them from spores (the mushroom equivalent of seeds)

Find somewhere as dark and damp as the house you lived in as a student. Under the sink, in the basement or in the cupboard you hide in to cry at work.

Mushrooms like humidity but also like to be kept cool, so try and find a spot where they won’t dry out or encounter any very warm breezes.

You normally get given a mini-tent with your growing kit, which is used to keep the mushrooms in a humid environment.

You’ll want to water them regularly, without exposing them to light.

Leave them in a dark, damp space and check on them every so often to give them water. Essentially, treat them as though they were a teenage boy.

Carrots

No list of veggies would be complete without these orange little gems. Raw, in a juice, roasted in honey. They just work.

They’re also super good for you – beta carotene (catchy name) is one of the main elements of the humble carrot and has been proven to help improve the condition of your skin.

Carrots are also really good for your digestive system, and provide necessary fiber and vitamins to your body.

Grow Your Own

You’re going to need a wide and long pot, such as a window box, to help your carrots grow.

It’ll also need to be pretty deep – carrots grow underground, after all. Fill it with soil – ask for something packed with humus.

No, not the delicious chickpea dip. It’s full of leaf litter (fallen leaves, old twigs etc.) and is very rich, which really helps your plants thrive.

Strangely, you add water before you add the seeds. You want the soil to be nice and wet before you plant the seeds so don’t be shy.

Plant the seeds about an inch away from each other. Depending on how wide your pot is, you can plant a single row or several rows.

If you go for the latter, make sure there’s at least five to six inches between each row or you’ll end up in trouble.

Add more water (yes, really) and leave the whole thing somewhere sunny. That window box tip was pretty good, hey?

When They're Ready...

Give them two weeks and you’ll see a green stem poking through the soil. Give it a wiggle and pull the carrot through the soil.

They might not be huge but they’ll be sweet and delicious. Eat raw or cook as soon as possible to preserve that sweetness and freshness.

Spinach

I love spinach so much. Aside from awkwardly getting it between your teeth, spinach is a miracle plant.

It’s absolutely packed with goodness (why else would Popeye eat so much of it?), mainly in the form of iron.

Spinach is also really low in fat and high in protein – a combination dreamier than Ben and Jerry. Well, almost.

Spinach also provides you with plenty of zinc, fiber and other essential parts of your diet.

Get Growing

Get a deep container as these things really like to let their roots down. Press the seeds about half an inch deep into the soil.

 Leave somewhere sunny and wait.

After a week or two, you’ll start to see things really get going.

Make sure you’re watering your spinach regularly. These are leafy greens that need plenty of water and nutrients while growing.

Use a natural fertilizer to help the spinach grow bigger and stronger every couple of weeks.

You’ll know when your spinach is ready as there’ll be lovely, deep green leaves everywhere.

That's All Folks...

So, there we have it. Some of the easiest, healthiest plants you can grow in your home.

Growing your own food just feels really wholesome in itself, and the fact that you’re in total control of what happens to them while they grow makes it even better.

No more worrying about what fertilizer or chemicals were used on your store-bought fruit and veg.

No more obsessive washing of fresh produce before you eat it.

Just happy, healthy plants to brighten up your life as well as your diet. It’s not as hard as you’d think, and just takes a little research, planning and getting your hands dirty.

Take a trip to the nearest nursery and invest in some pots, soil mix and seeds.

Go wild. Next thing you know, you’ll be at the neighborhood barbeque, offering up your own tomatoes for a salad and debating how to make the best sand/ humus mix for your plants. Maybe.

Or maybe you’ll just enjoy your beautiful, fresh mandarins from the comfort of your own home.

Either way, food exists to be appreciated and enjoyed, and knowing that you put in all the hard work just makes it even better…

About the author

Monica Pullman

Hi, I'm Monica, working mother of two, writer, yoga teacher and happiness coach. I'm passionate about spirituality, sleep, healing and yoga, it's what keeps me balanced and full of energy. I know the power of self-awareness, discipline, and knowledge when it comes to being a mother, as well as being able to bring your best to work every day.

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