Believe it or not, you do not need a greenhouse to grow crops indoors. Whether you are a city dweller who needs a patio or a homemaker who wants to add a little greenery to the winter months, you can easily start a garden in your own home.
Before you start your indoor garden, the first thing you need to consider is the space.
“Indoor gardening can take up as much or as little space as you are willing to give up,” says Jennifer Moreno, president of indoor gardening at National Garden Clubs. You can use as little as a window sill or as much as an entire room for your indoor gardening. Just make sure you have containers that fit into the room.
It may be best to allocate your floor space based on which room gets the most light. If you do not have enough light, either due to the short winter days or the lack of windows in your apartment, do not give up your indoor garden. You can buy growth candles that mimic the wavelengths of the sun and prevent your plants from becoming too weak and flimsy. You can get plant racks with built-in light, but you can also easily hang lights over plants on racks.
“Most plants typically need about 16 hours of sunlight, so you need to provide that light through a light source,” Moreno says. “An ordinary light bulb does not work because you need the wavelengths of the sun.”
Full spectrum growth light will provide these wavelengths, either by filtering the light through a special glass, using a chemical mixture or by balancing the right ratio of light output from different colored diodes depending on the type of bulb.
As for the placement of the candles, Moreno says, “You want the candle to be as close to the plant as possible without burning the leaves.”
Humidity can also be a problem, especially in winter when the heat is at full blast. If your home is dry, place a few humidifiers in the room where you plan to store the plants. Plants grown indoors also need more frequent watering. Always use room temperature water, and make sure your pots have adequate drainage. Overwatered or waterlogged plants will wither and their leaves will become discolored; underwater plants will develop brown edges along the leaves.
You can promote healthy drainage by keeping your plants in good potting soil. Also use lots of fertilizer for indoor plants. If you are composting, you can make a compost to give the plants extra nutrients by soaking a few spoons of compost in water for a few days and straining the mixture through a cheesecloth. You can also consider hydroponics, a method of growing plants using water without soil.
“Plants actually grow faster in water because they can more easily access water and food,” says Moreno. “You can have smaller containers, also you will not expose them to diseases so much.”
What can you grow indoors?
Herbs are good to grow indoors because they do not take up much space. You can easily start an indoor herb garden on the windowsill, or if you create one in the winter, it is possible to purchase a herb garden set that includes a stand with growing lights.
When it comes to vegetables, you should strategize. “You need to choose plants carefully when growing them indoors because you do not want plants that are too large,” she says. “You also want plants with similar irrigation and moisture needs.”
While some crops may overwinter and stay out in your garden, others may need a little help. An indoor garden can be used to start or keep crops during the harsh, frosty winters. According to Moreno, peppers, lettuce, carrots, beans and onions are all good to grow indoors. If you have enough space, you can even grow dwarf varieties of apple and orange trees. Some gardeners are surprised that tomatoes grow well indoors. While most plants require insects or wind for pollination, tomatoes pollinate themselves so you can get juicy, fresh fruits all winter long.
You can also use your indoor garden to start crops that you will eventually replant outside when the weather gets hot. When spring comes, the plants have to go through a process called “softening” where they have to be slowly exposed to the elements. Moreno says you should plan to place your indoor plants outside (ideally in a cold frame for a little extra protection) for a few hours around 7 or 10 days before you plan to transplant them, which slowly increases the time they are exposed for during the day. and bring them back every night. When the day finally comes to add them to your outdoor garden, you should ideally wait for some cloud cover so they are not exposed to the harsh full sun right away.
Do not let cool temperatures press your green thumb. With an indoor garden, get your gardening fixed all year round.