Starting an Indoor Garden
As living off the land and growing plants at home becomes a trendy endeavor, what about those with minimal space? Or folks with winters of chills and blizzards? With indoor gardening, anyone can become a grow pro. Keep reading to find out how!
Why Garden Indoors?
So, what’s the appeal of taking your gardening gloves and planter pots indoors? Indoor gardening is ideal for those with minimal outdoor space, cold temperatures that prevent plants from growing, or the wish to pick fresh food from the comfort of your kitchen. Having plants inside the home can also be a great source of pleasure.
Indoor gardening is believed to ease stress and anxiety and promote recovery both mentally and physically. With fresh plants in every corner, you’re guaranteed to feel more creative, productive, and focused. Some evidence even shows that indoor crops may positively influence the air quality in your home as well. All these things seem great, right? But you’ve got to put in the work towards producing healthy crops to reap the benefits.
Indoor Gardening Methods
Whether your indoor garden consists of a tiny kitchen shelf or a large warehouse, vertical farming is an ideal way to take advantage of the space. It’s the process in which plants are grown on top of each other, rather than in traditional, horizontal rows. Basically, they grow up instead of out. Vertical farming allows for conservation of space, resulting in a higher crop yield per square foot of land used. This type of garden is typically only used indoors because gardeners have the ability to control the environmental conditions for the plants to succeed.
In addition to saving space and producing more plants, the vertical gardening technique requires fewer resources than traditional methods. Gardeners are also able to reduce plant transportation by locating operations closer to the point of consumption. In a home garden, growing vertically can provide better airflow, more sun exposure, easy maintenance, and privacy. You can’t go wrong with some beautiful vertical plants to spruce up your environment.
If you stay up to date on the latest and greatest gardening innovations, you probably already know about hydroponics. But what is hydroponics? It’s quickly becoming a favored way to grow crops for pro farmers and home growers alike. While a new way of gardening might seem intimidating at first, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to get hydroponics down pat. It’s a no-fail method that works so well, that even the brownest thumbs will start turning green.
Growing hydroponic plants has tons of incredible benefits, including better growth (sometimes up to 25%), compared to plants that don’t use the system. Even better, you don’t need a lot of space to get started. It’s perfect for apartment dwellers or those with a cramped or cluttered environment. Start by looking for hydroponic planters and systems in compact or vertical styles; they’ll include everything you need for growing.
You can start an indoor hydroponic garden with an all-in-one unit. These grow systems can fit on tabletops and some are even designed to function as furniture, like end tables. Having a grow system will provide you with tons of benefits, like LED lights for faster growth and smartphone technology. It’s important to note that there are two main types of hydroponic systems.
The most common type of hydroponic tool is a deep-water system. They’re inexpensive at around $60 and are ideal for growing small amounts of edible crops. Plants in a deep-water system grow in oxygenated, nutrient-rich water. Another common hydroponic system is the ebb and flow method.
These machines are more expensive ($400), but they produce a higher yield. Ebb and flow plants are grown in net pods that are intermittently flooded with oxygenated, nutrient-rich water that drains away, exposing plant roots to air.
Once you know the common growing techniques, choosing a system and starting a hydroponic garden will be simple. Then, you just have to pick a plant medium and plant the seeds! After seeds are planted, your crops will thrive as long as they’ve got proper light, nutrients, and pollination.
Perhaps your indoor space is lacking, but you’re sick of battling cold weather and plant-hungry animals in the garden. Adding a greenhouse to your outdoor area may be the perfect solution. They work by converting light energy into heat.
Sunlight enters the greenhouse, magnifying brightness while protecting plants from cool temperatures. Growing your produce in a greenhouse is an incredibly fulfilling and fun way to pass time.
One of the biggest advantages to starting a greenhouse is that you’ll be able to extend growing seasons, getting an early start on spring and summer, and even growing some crops year-round. Before even starting to plan a grow schedule, it’s vital to load up on essential seed starting supplies for a successful yield.
Containers, sterile soil, fertilizer, water, and heat all help to propagate seeds during the early parts of the season, and when temps get chillier. With just a bit of work, you’ll have a cozy haven for those cold winter days. Not to mention, a controlled environment to grow crops!
What Do You Need for an Indoor Garden?
All those grow methods can be a lot to digest, so what tools do you really need for a successful indoor garden? While each system will require different supplies, there are a few things every indoor gardener should keep in their toolbox.
First, anyone gardening indoors should find a sunny, south-facing window (we’ll find out what to do if you don’t have one later). Natural sunlight is crucial for growing plants, so try to position your garden in that direction if possible.
Another supply that’s essential for indoor farming is some sort of watering device. It’s good to get a mister, but any old watering can will do the trick. Once you’ve got something to water with, it’s time to get the seeds and soil! Additionally, using high-quality fertilizer will promote growth within the crop.
There are a few tools that can make indoor gardening a bit easier. Keeping a small hand fork in the garden will help loosen, lift, and turn soil when planting and transporting. When you’re not getting your hands dirty, keep the plants on a heat mat. As we know, heat and water are the two secrets to successful crops.
So, when temperatures plummet, guarding against dramatic drops is advised.
Lastly, some plants need upwards of 20 hours of light per day, so grow lights are a smart investment. Plus, if sunlight’s refusing to creep in your window or it’s an exceptionally cloudy day, your plants can still thrive. Investing in your garden can cost a pretty penny, but these supplies help guarantee happy successful crops.
Best Crops for an Indoor Garden
Growing Herbs Indoors
Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow indoors. Not to mention the big bucks we drop on them at the grocery store. Save some money and spice up your meals by starting an indoor herb garden.
To get started, find an empty windowsill with ample sunlight: six to eight hours is optimal for herbs. Then, set out to your local gardening store. You’ll need some pots, soil, a watering can, and a spray bottle. If you’re new to gardening, consider starting with a pre-potted plant instead.
Once your indoor herb garden is up and running, ensure your pot gets good drainage. Meaning, the pot must have a way for water to get out (like a small hole on the bottom). Plants with solid drainage will require minimal watering and maintenance to flourish. Speaking of water, mist those plants appropriately!
Just because herbs require minimal water doesn’t mean you can neglect them. Bring the mister out a few times each week for happy herbs.
After they’ve grown nice and strong, cut those herbs at any point to enjoy them. Simply cut the top off, and soon, you’ll have new leaves regrowing. Don’t be scared to hurt the little thing, cutting actually encourages growth. So, which herbs would best suit your indoor garden?
How to Grow Thyme
Why not start with one of the most adaptable herbs? Thyme can be grown in pots as small as four to six inches. It can also flourish from the clippings of an established outdoor plant. Although this spice prefers maximum sunshine, it can flourish in either an east or west-facing window. To prevent soggy root conditions and allow growing thyme to dry out between waterings, plant it in a clay pot.
Here’s another easy one for beginners out there: oregano is both hardy and drought tolerant. When summer’s end, head outside and grab a few clippings from an established oregano plant and root it in a cup of water. After planting it in soil, you should only water the crop once its soil dries out.
Fresh oregano offers a milder taste than its dried counterpart, and it’s best added at the end of cooking to retain its yummy flavor.
Those looking to ramp up their medicinal supply and flavor profiles must grow a sage plant indoors. Its oval-shaped foliage can spice up poultry dishes or delicious stuffing. When growing sage, it’s best to use a starter plant or begin with clippings from an established plant.
If you’re using clippings, simply snip the tip off an outdoor sage plant and place it in a pot with soil. Since it’s a relatively drought tolerate herb, wait until the soil is mostly dry before giving it a thorough misting.
Growing Veggies Indoors
The good news for you cold weather folk is the onset of winter doesn’t have to mean the end of growing and harvesting vegetables. With the right supplies and methods, you can harvest some of your favorite veggies indoors for months before the weather turns favorable again (or keep them inside year-round)!
You’ll save on trips to the grocery store, and that green thumb will be put to work!
When starting an indoor vegetable garden, find a container that’s big enough for the roots of your plant to grow, with a drainage hole in the bottom. DIY’ing your container is easy; just repurpose some old plastic yogurt tubs or storage bins. However, any pot with a drainage hole will do.
Of course, you’ll then need to put the container on a dish, saucer, or tray to capture the moisture draining out. That way, you won’t ruin a table or windowsill.
Plant your veggies in the container using indoor potting soil, which is specially formulated to help indoor gardens thrive. Once the plant is potted, set it up in front of a sunny window. The biggest challenge to cultivating a thriving indoor vegetable garden is a lack of light.
That’s why you’ve got to emulate outdoor conditions inside as much as possible, either by using window light or purchasing grow lights.
When watering time comes around, remember that less is more for indoor veggies. Because they’re not subject to intense outdoor heat, plants won’t dry out as often, so be careful not to overwater. Your ideal soil should be moist, not too damp or dry. Low humidity, however, can be tough on indoor plants.
Either use a spray bottle to lightly mist them every day, or consider investing in a cool-mist humidifier. With just some patience, dedication, and your favorite veggies in seed form, indoor gardening has never been easier. Here are some of the best indoor vegetables to grow:
Pepper plants are tropical perennials, meaning they thrive in warm water and full sun (a lot of us can relate). However, since they’re self-pollinating, they can do quite well indoors. They’ll need high levels of light, between 14 and 20 hours a day, and thrive in about 70-degree temperatures.
Pot them in a container that’s at least eight inches tall, and allow the soil to mostly dry out between waterings.
Leafy Salad Greens
Who doesn’t love a bunch of delicious greens to toss in a salad? Possibly the most reliable of the veggie bunch, cool-tolerant leafy greens like spinach, kale, and arugula are ideal for growing indoors. They’ll flourish as soon as four weeks into the growing process in compact spaces.
Needing about 12 hours of sunlight per day, these plants will succeed around 60 degrees.
Just because some veggies are warm weather loving, doesn’t mean they’re hopeless indoors. Tomatoes will need a lot of light, around 14-20 hours a day. Similar to peppers, they’re self-pollinating, but you can shake them up to help pollen fall from flower to flower.
Smaller varieties, like cherry tomatoes, tend to do better in containers, and you’ll find that the seeds germinate quickly.
Looking for the perfect veggie for your mini-indoor garden? Carrots are great because they don’t require much space around them to flourish. But they do tend to require deeper soil than other crops. They’re cool-tolerant vegetables that thrive around 60 degrees F.
Ensure they get at least 12 hours of light per day, and you’ll be chomping on some crunchy cucumbers in no time.
Indoor Fruit Garden
One of the neatest parts of having an indoor garden is growing your own fruits, especially once you realize the variety and how easy it can be! While many fruits can thrive indoors, the most successful tend to be that of the citrus family. Keep reading to find out how tarte, citrusy goodness can grow in your home.
Any gardener would be impressed to find a whole thriving tree inside your house! However, oranges make it easy to do. You can plant an orange tree in a pot or container depending on your preferences. Just make sure to use plastic, ceramic, or clay that outsizes the plant’s root ball. Add stones as well so air can circulate through the pot.
After successfully planting your orange tree, try to make sure it’s getting around 12 hours of light per day. Keep it in a southernly window away from breezy vents. Keep the soil acidic, with a pH level of 6.0 to 7.0. If you’ve got it right, the soil should drain well and have a loam in it.
Set your thermostat around 65 degrees, never letting the house go past 85 F. Adding moss or pebbles can make a decorative and helpful mulch to maintain the orange tree’s moisture. And lastly, be sure to watch out for plant pests; aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites love citrus trees.
Luckily, the process of growing lemons is like that of oranges. Choose the same type of pot and soil as you did for the orange tree. Lemons will also need the same amount of sunlight at about 12 hours. The same temperature guidelines apply, as well.
Keep your watering habits consistent until winter falls. Lemons, and citrus plants in general, can dry out more in the cold so allow the soil to retain some moisture. Otherwise, root rot can occur, leading to fungal infections. Gain control of your watering routine with a water meter; it’ll tell you once it’s time to scale back.
When it comes to indoor gardening, houseplants are the first thing that comes to mind. While not everyone wants to dedicate tons of time and money to growing food at home, just about anybody could use some fresh vibes in the home. But, how can your houseplants stand out among others?
First, it’s essential to choose healthy plants. Don’t go for ones with soggy soil, droopy leaves, or shriveled growth; they’re likely past rescuing and may even carry disease. It’s also crucial to consider your light and space, as well as your décor pieces. It would suck to bring home a beautiful plant, only to realize it’s way too big for that window or looks ridiculous next to your art pieces.
Just like any other indoor crop, it’s essential to water houseplants properly. Mist them whenever the top one or two inches of soil are dry. It’s also vital to invest in high-quality potting soil mix and fertilizer. Any variety of houseplant needs adequate humidity to thrive, so add a humidity tray or keep up with misting.
Life hack for those with an indoor garden of various houseplants: group plants together. When transpiration occurs, plants work to humidify each other. So, let’s find out some of the best houseplants for your garden.
Who doesn’t love a succulent plant? And no, not just because they’re trendy. Arguably the easiest houseplants to maintain, succulents thrive in dryness and low humidity: they’re practically begging to be neglected. Place them near a window, give ‘em good air circulation, and watch that the temp doesn’t fall below freezing. After that, your succulent will be set for life!
Known for bringing good vibes and positive energy into the home, mums are a must-grow. Plus, they’re generally already prepared for interior growth upon purchasing. You can simply transplant mums into a slightly larger container with good drainage holes and fresh soil.
Regularly water these gorgeous flowers from under the leaves to prevent fungal issues. Excess lighting can also throw the plant’s bloom production off and cause it to stop flowering. Therefore, you should position it to receive bright light during the day, but peaceful darkness at night.
Now that you know all the indoor gardening secrets, becoming a green thumb has never been easier. Enjoy fresh fruits, delicious veggies, and stunning houseplants all from the comfort of your own home. Lastly, don’t forget to check out Crow Survival for more gardening and survival content.