By Tina Jepson
If you don’t have the outdoor space to handle raised beds or a row garden or the sunlight isn’t ideal for raising healthy plants, you may be wondering how to start indoor gardening. No matter your circumstances, it’s fairly easy and affordable to grow an indoor vegetable garden or even an indoor flower garden.
With time and a little love and care, you’ll be blessed with perfectly plump tomatoes, beans, cut flowers and more! Here’s how:
Considerations on How to Garden Indoors
Even if you choose to grow anything from carrots to squash inside, you need to consider a few things before you begin.
The Space: First, find the right amount of space. Indoor gardens require ample room for the plants to grow and thrive. Many indoor gardeners choose to place their gardens in the sunniest spot of the house, regardless of the room available. In theory, this is a great idea. After all, plants need sunlight! More often than not, even the brightest room or corner of your home won’t provide adequate light to grow strong and hearty fruits and vegetables. Since you’re going to need to supplement with artificial light anyways (more on this below), find an area of your home where you can place shelves to hang lights and hold the plants.
Temperature and Humidity: Controlled home air temperatures are usually perfect for plants to thrive. Aim to keep the temperature between 68-78 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time, conditioned air tends to be drier and this can lead to low humidity in your home. Since plants need humidity to survive, mist your plants to use a humidifier to ensure they’re getting the constant moisture they need.
It doesn’t take much to start an indoor garden. Gather the following to begin:
- Plant starts or seeds
- Indoor potting soil composed of peat moss and the mineral vermiculite
- A structure to hold plants such as a windowsill, shelves, or table
- Any type of pot or container
- Grow light fixtures and bulbs
- Spray bottle
- Water source
- Construct and/or place the structure in the area of your home where you intend to keep your garden.
- If starting your plants from seed, soak peat pellets until fully expanded and then place 1-3 seeds in each pellet. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and place in a sunny area. Most seeds sprout within five days to two weeks. Once they sprout a second set of leaves, transplant them into their permanent containers.
- If using plant starts, place them directly in their pots/containers.
- Use grow lights and natural sunlight (if you have it) for 12 hours per day. To make it easier on you, use an automatic timer.
- Water regularly and fertilize biweekly. *Hint: Plants prefer warm water over cold water.
- Enjoy the literal fruits of your labor all year-long.
Bonus Indoor Gardening Tips
As you dive into the process of planning and planting your indoor garden, keep these tips and tricks in mind:
Decor: Think of your indoor garden as an extension of your home's decor. Especially if you’re looking for new interior home ideas, consider adding decorative planters or custom-built shelves. Keeping aesthetics in mind will turn an average indoor garden into a decor centerpiece.
Light: As you now know, growing plants with artificial light is an essential part of the indoor gardening process. But pay close attention to the type of bulb you use. Avoid incandescent bulbs, which burn hot and don’t produce the right amount of light to allow your plants to thrive. Instead, look for fluorescent or high intensity discharge (HID) grow lights.
Moisture: When in doubt, feel the soil. If you notice that it’s still moist to the touch, delay watering until the top 1” of soil feels dry.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have what it takes to maintain an outdoor garden. Instead, simply bring the garden indoors! With a few supplies, some space, and a touch of care, you’ll be enjoying the beauty and rewards a garden provides within the confines of your own home.
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.dreamstime.com and www.shutterstock.com