An indoor garden is a great way to grow fruits, herbs, vegetables and more all year-round. Indoor plants are popular due to many reasons such as; brightening up indoor spaces, easy to take care of, have mood-boosting qualities, and can be used in various indoor decor themes.
If your home doesn’t have tons of square footage, it doesn’t mean you can’t exhibit the strength of your green thumb. In fact, indoor plants don’t need to take up much space and a windowsill will get you started. If you are interested in duplicating Mother Nature indoors, here’s a guide on how to create an indoor garden indoor.
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Before we educate you on how to create a successful indoor garden at home, it would be wise to familiarize yourself with what you’re getting yourself into. Make the internet and books your best friend and learn about indoor gardening. Start with sunlight issues and select a room that can accommodate plenty of natural light. Besides, be informed that air conditioners and heating will affect the average temperature to a large degree. Determine how many degrees are perfect for most plants to thrive. Most importantly, if you have limited space, opt to hang baskets as a way of maximizing space to grow more plants.
First things first, you should decide the style of indoor gardening based on your household preferences. The two general styles of gardening are;
- · Container gardening – This is a common gardening style that uses containers with well-mixed soil. It is an ideal option for individuals looking forward to rearranging their plants or growing any type of plant and in any size
- · Hydroponic gardening – A special type of indoor gardening that utilizes non-soil starter and fertilized water, arranged vertically. It’s a perfect choice for anyone willing to grow a variety of plants in a limited space
2. Find the right space
Creating a successful indoor garden depends heavily on the space you’re willing to set aside for your plants. It’s not the same if you only have a table, windowsill or an entire room at your disposal. The idea is to look for an area with a tile floor or linoleum or use tarps if you have them. Maximize your growing space by making shelves and avoid growing your plants in cold temperatures such as garage or attic which can kill them or slow their growth rate. Also, avoid areas with a fan or air vent to prevent your plants from drying out. The area you choose must have adequate lighting to allow your plants to benefit from at least six hours of sunlight every day.
3. Containers – Made, bought or reused
There are a variety of containers available in the market that you can buy for a few bucks but with the right tools and skills, you can make them all by yourself. Indoor plants can use any container from empty yogurt cups to large metal or wood containers, depending on the type of plant. As a rule of thumb, the container you choose must allow proper drainage and big enough to allow roots to penetrate. If your container doesn’t have a draining hole, consider adding pea gravel or small rocks at the bottom to enhance drainage.
You can as well reuse containers for planting but you must first clean them using a water solution of bleach to prevent the spread of disease that could otherwise affect your plant’s growth. It is still okay to recycle plastic bottles or bigger cans especially if you don’t want to strain your wallet.
4. Prepare the soil
When it comes to soil preparation, most people make a mistake of grabbing a bunch of soil from their garden and transferring it to the planting containers. And because you’re reading this article, don’t make this mistake. Soil from outside contains insects and diseases that could kill your plants. Besides, it doesn’t contain the proper balance of sand and clay for a perfect porosity. Even though you can buy a pre-made potting mix, it’s possible to make your own with 1 part vermiculite, 1 part coir peat, and 2 parts compost using the following procedure;
- · Start by soaking the 1 part of coir peat brick to allow rehydration
- · Properly mix vermiculite and coir peat and add in the compost
5. Choose your plants and buy seeds
Indoor gardening is fun as it gives you an opportunity to grow your preferred plants at home. There is a possibility to purchase seedlings but it’s recommendable to start from scratch using seeds especially if you want to enjoy the growing experience. Indoor gardening gives you unlimited possibilities and you can plant any plant from fruits and herbs to flowers and decorative greens. However, there’s a limitation of space availability and the ceiling height of your house. If you wish to grow different varieties of plants at the same time, ensure that they have a similar requirement of temperature, total humidity, light, and watering.
6. Maintain your plants
After planting your garden, you must be aware that your work is not over yet. You should maintain your plants with general care which involves the following;
- · Fertilizing
Indoor plants tend to quickly use most of the nutrients from the soil and growing medium. Besides, some of the nutrients are leached out by water and therefore, they need a boost with extra fertilizer. It is recommendable to use organic fertilizers and hydroponic nutrients for your plants, but you should follow the instructions on the package carefully.
- · Temperature
Most plants thrive in temperatures ranging from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, although a variance of 10 degrees on either side is still okay. If the temperature in your house is too cold, the leaves of your plants will begin to dry, lose their chlorophyll and eventually fall off. On the other hand, too high temperature makes the plants small and weak. It is advisable to invest in the Autopilot Cooling Thermostat to control heating and cooling in the plant’s environment.
- · Humidity
If you’d wish to grow healthy and vigorous plants, you must come up with a strategy to control moisture in the growing space. You can opt to mist your plants every day or purchase an environmental controller or humidifier to regulate indoor humidity.
- · Watering
Plants grown in a container tend to dry out very fast and therefore, you should be prepared to water them regularly. However, watering should be done only when you notice the soil is dry and the water should stay on room temperature for sometime before using it. Most importantly, be careful not to overwater your plants.
- · Lights
If you look at vegetables garden outdoor, one thing you’ll realize is that they are planted in areas where they can get the maximum amount of sunlight. Most herbs and vegetables require a minimum of six hours of daylight for them to thrive and when growing indoors, you’ll have two options.
First, you can grow your plants near a window for them to benefit from direct sunlight. Secondly, if the growing space doesn’t accommodate enough light, you should consider using artificial lighting which is famously known as grow lights.
Grow light kits and grow lights are not as easy as purchasing light bulbs and given that different vegetables and plants require different types of light for growth, there are two types of grow light kits to consider;
- · Warm spectrum grow lights – They have a low number on the scale approximately 3000K and perfect for growing peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, and other fruiting plants
- · Cool spectrum grow lights – They have a high number on the scale approximately 6500K and perfect for seedlings as well as leafy vegetables
Last but not least, there are various types of grow lights bulbs as well from traditional incandescent to LED and fluorescent and you can choose one depending on your household needs and your financial situation. If you don’t have time to research about these bulbs, go for LED as they last longer and will save on electricity.
Importance of proper lighting
Plants require light for energy and survival – Plants get energy from light through a process known as photosynthesis. During this process, light energy is converted into chemical energy and this leads to the production of sugars like glucose which provide food for the growth of your indoor plants
· Light is needed for the plant’s growth and development – Outdoor plants grow strong and healthy because they receive enough light. Therefore, lack of enough light will make your indoor plants grow tall and spindly
Let’s face it, it’s the desire of every person to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs from their gardens. However, most of them are afraid that they don’t have enough space and end up giving up on their cultivation dreams. The good news is that you don’t need a yard to make your dreams come true as you can grow any plant indoors on a windowsill or on a corner of an abandoned room. Indoor gardening comes with tremendous benefits such as cleansing your household air, improving the aesthetics of any indoor space, boosting your moods and providing your family with a wealth of fresh and yummy foods and this article will help you grow your first plants successfully.
Amila Gamage Wickramarachchi is the founder of this blog which she shares her parenting and lifestyle experiences.She is a Contracts Engineer by profession and recently launched her own Engineering consultancy service Sihela Consultants.(www.sihelaconsultants.com)