Chow Line: Grow your own veggies even without access to a garden

Photo: Getty Images

I’d like to grow my own fruits and vegetables so that I can increase my access to fresh, healthy foods. But I live in an apartment and don’t have access to a garden or patio. Any tips on what I can do?

First, I want to commend you on seeking innovative ways to add more produce to your diet by choosing to grow your own vegetables.

And even though you don’t have access to a plot of land or space in a garden to plant vegetables, you can still grow your own produce indoors using home hydroponics.

In fact, home hydroponics is one of the hottest ways for you to grow your own fresh vegetables and herbs indoors, says Tim McDermott, an educator with Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

McDermott, who runs the Growing Franklin food production blog, demonstrates how to grow tomatoes, lettuce, basil, and other healthy, tasty garden produce inside your home, during a recent episode of “Extension Today,” a production project done in partnership with NBC4 WCMH-TV. The weekly segment offers stories about gardening, cooking, and other tips, and resources for improving Ohioans’ gardens, lives, families, and local communities.

Hydroponics is a form of controlled environment agriculture that allows growers to control all the inputs that are required to plant, grow, and produce fruits and vegetables, McDermott explains.

That includes controlling the lighting with LED light panels, feeding the plants through the circulation of nutrients within the water that is used to irrigate them, and using a timer on the plants’ lighting to simulate the amount of light that is needed similar to what the plants would experience outdoors during spring or summer, he said.

“The key to successful produce growing through hydroponics is to have the right equipment to enable success,” McDermott says. “That includes a grow light, nutrient solution, and rockwool cubes to start your seedlings in.

“The nice thing about growing using some hydroponic units is that you are giving the exact amount of nutrition with the exact amount of irrigation, so lettuce seedlings, for example, can mature into large, edible heads of lettuce in a much faster time than they would do growing outside.”

To view the video and access the playlist of previously aired segments, visit

Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line writer Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or

Editor: This column was reviewed by Tim McDermott, an Ohio State University Extension educator.

Tracy Turner
For more information, contact: 

Tim McDermott