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For those of us without outdoor space, it might seem like having your own garden is an impossible notion. But while it’s true that most vegetable plants can only thrive outside, there are actually a number of veggies that are perfectly happy growing inside – and some of them are pretty surprising.

Lettuces of every type are perfect for indoor growing. They don’t need a ton of sun, and they certainly don’t like heat. These greens are also shallow growers, and best of all, you can pick as you go: take a few leaves for a lunch salad, and they’ll grow back quickly. Home growers can branch out to heartier greens such as spinach and chard, too.

Cilantro is a very delicate herb that wilts easily in the heat, but needs light. The benefit of an indoor pot of cilantro is that it’s easily moved away from the window during the hottest part of the day. Sturdier herbs, like basil and oregano, can be kept permanently in a windowsill planter. Some of these might attract a few bugs, but there are plenty of natural homemade sprays that combat critters.

If space is not an issue, eggplants thrive indoors. They’ll need sunlight, but not heat. These are pretty plants, too: the Japanese eggplant has white flowers and purple leaves. Edible and decorative!

Baby carrots and radishes (and other small root vegetables) don’t need a deep container, and only partial sunlight. A high yield is almost guaranteed.

Pole beans, also called runner beans, can be fun indoors if you’re looking to add a little green. Stake them around a window to add a decorative element that also tastes pretty good.

If you want to take advantage of really dark spaces, grow mushrooms. To be on the safe side, purchase a starter kit. Once you have that, all you need is a cupboard or closet. Sort of weird, but definitely cost-effective.

Finally…bananas! Get a dwarf one (unless of course you’re lucky enough to have 14-foot ceilings), and put it in a room that get indirect light all day. It seems unlikely, but with the right care, buying imported bananas will be a thing of the past in your house.

(image via gailf548)