Nothing beats the fresh wholesome taste of vegetables freshly picked from your own garden. Planting vegetable gardens can be a challenge if you don’t have a backyard, but you can still grow vegetables indoors. Just follow a few simple garden-smart guidelines.
Choose Appropriate Vegetables
Different plants have different requirements and with indoor gardens the major restrictions tend to be available space and available light. If you want to grow fruit bearing plants, these will require large amounts of sunlight. Salad greens like lettuce, miniature cabbages, swiss chard, and spinach require less light and do quite well indoors.
The size of your pots will also determine your choice of plant, choose containers big enough for the plants full growth. Small root crops such as radishes and onions are great choices, and there are even small root carrots available. Herbs are a popular choice because they are compact and do not need much space. Miniature varieties of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant can also thrive inside when given the proper care.
Find the Perfect Spot for Growing
As mentioned earlier, lighting is an important consideration for an indoor vegetable garden. A bright south-facing window is your best bet, but any spot that gets a minimum of 5 hours of continuous light can be used. In addition to natural light, you can set up supplemental artificial lighting if you are really serious about growing healthy plants.
Traffic flow is also another important factor to think about. Vegetables in general bruise easily so you want to choose fairly quiet spots so minimize accidental human contact. If you have small children or pets at home, you may want to locate your garden well out of their reach. It is also important to think about proximity to your gardening tools and easy clean-up if things get messy.
Optimize the Micro-Climate
Plants grow best in high humidity and moderate temperatures. Indoor gardens usually suffer from low humidity and this needs to be addressed. Container grown plants tend to dry out faster and will require more frequent watering. However, it is important not to let the plants get waterlogged as this may cause root rot. Make sure that there is good drainage by raising pots with a pan of gravel underneath. Evaporation from these dishes also improves humidity so they serve a dual purpose.
Another great way optimize your micro-climate is to group plants together. You can mix your vegetables with more decorative houseplants to create groupings that are not only beautiful but also functional. Temperature is actually easier to control inside the house, as it is easy to provide more shade by simply drawing the curtains. Just make sure plants are protected from drafts.
Get Good Potting Soil
Potting soil for indoor gardens should drain well and contain the nutrients required to support growth and development. You can purchase premixed potting soil that already incorporates the proper amount of fertilizer. If you prefer to go organic, you can get organic potting mixes from your local garden shop. Add nutrients with caution, as fertilizer buildup is quite common in containers.
Planting vegetable gardens indoors can be incredibly rewarding, so do not be afraid to give it a try. You may even end up growing enough produce to give as gifts to delighted family and friends.
Photo. Simon Howden