Getting Started With Indoor Gardening

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Indoor gardening can be a great way to enjoy fresh produce year round. It’s also a great way to beautify your home as well as engage your family with creative skill-building projects. In order to get started, you’ll need to decide on your indoor garden’s purpose, budget, and strategy. 

Choosing The Best Plants To Grow Indoors

With enough determination and know how, you can grow almost any plant indoors. Here are some good suggestions for those looking for fool-proof plants that lend themselves well to the indoor gardening process. 

Herbs

Herbs make great indoor plants because many of them are smaller and fit well in window sills. It’s also fun to be able to use them right away in your food or as teas. If you’re a beginning gardener, you may want to select herb varieties that do well in lower light. This includes lemongrass, chives, mint, sage, and thyme. 

Microgreens

Microgreens are seedlings of herbs, greens, or vegetables. They are not one type of plant, but rather a plant that has been grown over a short period of time and has passed the “sprouting” phase. Microgreens are full of healthy nutrients and enzymes and are incredibly easy to grow. For those just starting their microgreen journey, consider growing radishes, red cabbage, mustard, or amaranth plants. 

Vegetables

As your gardening expertise grows, you’ll be able to experiment with larger crops. Many vegetables grow well indoors, including radishes, potatoes, peppers, and much more. For those just starting out, it may be best to try growing some leafy greens, such as lettuce, spinach, mustard greens, and chard. 

Gathering Supplies

Making sure you have the right supplies for your indoor garden is as important as the plants themselves. Here are some considerations to make when purchasing all of the materials for your set up. 

Containers

Picking a container for your indoor garden is one of the most creative parts of the process. You can use a standard pot, or something more unique, such as baskets, tea posts, plastic bottles, and even an old pair of shoes!

You’ll want to make sure that your container has enough space for your plant’s roots to spread out. Most plants need about 6 inches of space. You’ll also want to make sure that your container has adequate drainage. If it doesn’t already have drainage holes, you will have to add your own. This prevents the plant’s roots from drowning and also reduces the risk of mold in your soil. 

Lights

The best natural light for indoor plants comes from south or west-facing windows. These angles offer the most direct light for your plants and help to provide them with a full spectrum of brightness. 

If you’re putting your plants in a shaded area, you may want to supplement them with a grow light. You can purchase a simple fluorescent light and it will provide a full-spectrum range to your plants. If you’re interested in a slightly more involved set up, you can purchase a clip on LED light that will attach to any shelf or table. You can then set this LED light on a timer for low maintenance lighting.

Soil

When choosing a soil, you’ll want something that is loose enough to allow water to drain and absorptive enough to retain moisture. You can easily find an indoor potting mix that is well balanced for the needs of your indoor plants. 

If you want to increase the drainage of a soil, you can add perlite to it. Make sure not to use soil from the outdoors in your indoor containers. You may bring in pests or mold, which could infect all of the plants in your home. Stick to store bought or sterile potting soil. 

Shelving

Shelves are an often overlooked part of indoor gardening. They are important because they make sure that your plants get good sunlight, airflow, and are out of harm from pets or children. Consider using industrial shelving when setting up your garden. They are open, durable, and easy to clean. Adjustable shelves are also helpful and can accommodate your plants as they grow taller.

Pest Control & Maintenance

Now that your plants are up and running, here are some tips for keeping them healthy:

  • Be careful to not overwater your plants. This will make sure you don’t experience root rot and will help you avoid mold issues.
  • Add air circulation to your indoor garden. Put a fan near your plants or regularly open a window to create a strong breeze. This will minimize pests as well as help your plants to grow stronger. 
  • Keep different types of plants in different areas of your indoor garden. Each plant has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. By keeping each type of plant in its own area, you won’t overpower any others and avoid cross-contamination. 
  • If your plants have pests on them, create a 1 to 1 mixture of dove soap with water and spray it lightly on the plants to treat it. Once the soap has dried, wipe off the leaves of the plant with a towel wetted with water. 

An indoor garden is an empowering way to brighten your home. Even if you have a very small and dark home, there is a plant that will work well with you. Make sure to start small. Consider beginning with microgreens and then moving your way up to herbs and lettuces. As you become more familiar with the foundations of gardening, you’ll be able to expand into more interesting projects.

Most importantly, you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of your efforts as you integrate fresh healthy and homegrown produce into your everyday dishes. Happy indoor gardening! 

Rachel Dennis is the founder and author of City Homesteads, a blog that explores ideas of homesteading, gardening, and sustainable practices in urban and suburban environments. She received her MFA from the University of Hartford where she studied cultural and ecological sustainability in the arts. She has taught several workshops and courses on fermentation, natural medicine-making, and other self-sufficiency skills in Chicago & Austin. In her free time, Rachel loves making art, being in nature, and cooking. 

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