Did you know you could start an indoor garden and start having fresh food year-round? That’s right, no matter where you live, having an indoor garden is always an option.
The plants won’t take up much space and they can always be used as starter plants until you can plant them outside. They will even help clean the air in your home.
So stop making excuses or being down because you can’t be out in your garden just because it is winter and start an indoor garden today.
Getting Your Indoor Garden Started
There are 2 important considerations to keep in mind when you are getting started. These are how much space you have and how much light you have and need.
The greatest benefit of an indoor garden is that it can take up as little or as much space as you wish to use. Many plants can grow in a small pot on a windowsill. Some plants can grow tall instead of wide, so they only require space enough for the container size directly on the floor.
If you have the space available you may want to consider a shelving system to grow plants on. I have a plant bench in my dining room near a window where I can grow more, larger, and bulkier plants.
The second consideration for starting an indoor garden is light. Even though everyone has windows, there is not always enough sunlight that flows through them for plants to thrive.
When this is the case, you must install some other type of lighting for your plants. Plants need more though than just a regular set of light bulbs.
Plants need to photosynthesize to live and thrive. Without the correct light, your plants will become tall but spindly and will not produce correctly.
The solution for light for the plants is to purchase a grow light.
Choosing the Correct Grow Light
If you are going to just grow herbs, you can use a fluorescent light. these can be picked up in any Home Depot or Lowes, or even in your local hardware store. They are rather inexpensive too.
If you can pick up the newer compact fluorescent fixtures you will be much happier and so will your plants. These fixtures can be placed much closer to your plants since they don’t give off as much heat as other fixtures.
Using the Right Bulbs
The brightest and most effective lights, although a bit expensive, are the high-intensity discharge bulbs, or HDIs. A 1,000-watt HDI bulb is equal to about 50 40-watt fluorescent bulbs.
The type of HDI bulb you will probably use most is the High Pressure Sodium, or HPS bulbs. These bulbs produce a reddish-orange light that promotes flowering.
However, you will also need a Metal Halide or MH bulb. These bulbs use a bluish-white color to encourage leaf growth and to help keep your plants compact.
Use these lights to start off the plants then switch to an HDI bulb when your plants are ready to flower.
Other Considerations for an Indoor Garden
Besides the light fixture or bulb and your amount of space, there are other things to consider. These include the temperature surrounding your indoor garden and the level of humidity that is available.
Most plants prefer a 65 to 75-degree temperature and somewhat humid conditions. The temperature shouldn’t be too much of an issue in an average house, but humidity can be a challenge.
Here are some great ways to provide humidity for your indoor garden:
- Run a humidifier
- Group plants closely together
- Provide a saucer or tray of water near plants filled with lava rock.
All of the above suggestions will help bring humidity to your plants. Homes in the United States that used forced air heat will definitely want to try the humidifier option. Forced air heat is dry heat and plants don’t care for the dry air at all.
Choosing the Right Plants
Almost anything can be grown indoors. That is, as long as space is available and the mature plant size is not too big for the space. I wouldn’t recommend growing an oak tree obviously.
Basically, you can plant vegetables, herbs, fruits, and flowers. Even some dwarf fruit trees can be successfully grown indoors. If planting from seed, just follow the instructions on the seed packet.
Choosing Containers and Soil
When starting an indoor garden it is not wise to use the same garden soil as you would outside. That soil is much too heavy and may have weeds and worse yet, bugs. You don’t want any of that in your home.
Most of the organic, commercial mixes available at garden and big box stores should be sufficient. As long as they are lightweight, organic, and made for indoor planting.
When it comes to containers, use pots or containers that are made for the size of the mature plant. Make sure they have drainage holes.
I have used milk jugs cut in half to start plants indoors. I even have plants in tin cans. Have fun with your containers.
Watering Your Indoor Garden
The most important thing to keep in mind when watering plants is that plants in containers dry out more quickly than plants in the ground. This means you must watch and check your soil frequently.
When watering your indoor garden always try to use room temperature water and water enough so that the water runs out the holes in the bottom of the pot it is in.
Never leave a tray under your plant with water in it. This can cause the roots to rot. the only exception is when a plant requires very damp soil or constant water, which isn’t many plants.
Fertilizing Your Indoor Garden
Indoor plants can benefit from good homemade compost tea. You can download a FREE Skill Card for Compost Tea HERE.
You can also use a commercial fertilizer or an organic fertilizer, both of which are available in gardening and hardware stores. Simply follow the instructions on the bottle.
Check out Natural Ingredients to Boost Your Garden for more DIY options.
Did you know that starting an indoor garden was so easy? Now get out there, grab your seeds, and start growing some food indoors year-round!