Starting an indoor vegetable garden may sound a bit “out there,” but all you really need is some basic knowledge and maybe a little creativity.
Contrary to what you might think, growing plants indoors has some very pleasing benefits. For starters, you don’t have to worry about the weather: wind (too much), rain (too little or too much), sunshine (too little or too much) and temperature (too hot or too cold). You don’t have to do any digging or weeding and pests are generally not a problem.
A word of warning: some plants need a cold spell to harden off and some homes can be too warm in winter. For this reason, a perfect location would be a spare room that is cooler than the rest of the home.
You will of course need to water your plants yourself, and most plants will need some help with the fertilization process in the absence of bees and wind.
Things to Consider
Like every other aspect of life, gardening indoors requires proper planning. There are a few things you need to consider before starting an indoor vegetable garden. These include:
Indoor gardening can take up as little space as a corner of your room or it can simply be a ledge on a windowsill. It all comes down to how much space you’re willing to make available since you’re not going to be digging up earth indoors! But whether you choose to fill up an entire room or use a small corner, make sure your containers are suitable for your available space. This article offers some unique ideas.
Large pots or a small planter – whichever works for the particular plant – is fine if it fits in your space. Biodegradable pots, empty yogurt containers, or even a hanging shoe organizer are a few examples of indoor garden containers. You’ll need to make drainage holes in the containers before filling them with potting soil. Small vegetables do best in small planters, while larger vegetables will need larger pots or deep containers where their roots will have enough space to flourish.
Alternatively, if you just want a small amount of herbs or micro greens, or if you want to minimize your plant maintenance, you can buy an indoor garden kit that will make growing your own food a real cinch.
Buy a good quality potting soil. Soils go by various names such as potting compost and potting mix and there is a slight difference, so make sure you check the information on the bag to determine if a soil is right for your vegetables. A nice plus is that you can keep your vegetables free of chemicals and pesticides if you use an organic potting soil.
As you probably know, most vegetables don’t grow well without enough light. So when you select the space for your indoor vegetable garden, make sure to pick a room with adequate sunlight. Vegetables need at least 6 to 8 hours of regular sunlight, while most fruits need about 8 to 10 hours of sunlight to grow healthy roots and leaves and to produce an abundant harvest.
However, if that’s not practical, you can buy grow lights that are specially designed to imitate the sun’s rays. A regular light bulb can’t substitute for grow lights because they don’t give off the type of light your plants need. Grow lights are inexpensive to buy, and you can even buy a single grow light bulb that screws into a desk lamp if you have just one or two small plants.
When using grow lights, make sure you place them where the light can reach the plants without burning the leaves. If you’re growing herbs or microgreens, you might want to consider an indoor garden kit which has grow lights attached.
Water your plants with room temperature water – not hot or very cold water. You’ll need to water your vegetables frequently since they’re indoors and therefore not in deep soil. When watering, make sure the water gets down to the roots. But frequent watering does not mean too much water. Less is more when it comes to watering your plant; it’s good to let the soil dry out a little between waterings.
Your crops can only be as good as the seeds; the higher the quality the seeds, the better the sprouting rate. Make sure you buy fresh and high-quality seeds from trusted sources.
Types of Vegetables to Grow Indoors
Not all vegetables do well in an indoor vegetable garden. Eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and other fruits and vegetables that usually take longer to grow may not be suitable for an indoor vegetable garden. For healthy growth, consider starting these indoors and then moving them outdoors once the weather becomes warm enough.
Generally, when you have an indoor vegetable garden, it’s best to avoid growing plants that are slow to grow or are very large. Also, since all your indoor plants will most likely be in the same room or space, you’ll get better results if you grow vegetables with similar needs. Selecting vegetables with similar humidity and watering needs, for example, will save you a lot of time and stress.
Best Vegetables for Your Indoor Vegetable Garden
Okay, it’s time to pick the vegetables to grow indoors. Here’s a small list of suitable plants that you can easily grow indoors.
- Herbs: Oregano, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, parsley, chives, mint and basil are incredibly easy to grow indoors. Remember to keep them away from your window during winter because too much cold air can make them wilt.
- Microgreens: Consider planting a mix of arugula, beets, and baby kale (or any other microgreens of your choice). Microgreens are a lot more nutritious than fully grown vegetables and make delicious salads.
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Quick Tips for Your Indoor Vegetable Garden
- If you’re planting store-bought seeds, make sure to follow the planting depth specified on the seed packet. If you’re planting seeds you’ve collected yourself, plant them at a depth two or three times the width of the seed. For example, large seeds (such as beans) can be planted about an inch deep. Plant tiny seeds in such a way that the potting soil barely covers them. Seeds that are too deep may have difficulty germinating or reaching the surface.
- Sow more than one seed because not all seeds will germinate. After germination, you can remove any extra sprouts.
- Place the planters or containers in a warm corner to help the seeds germinate. A perfect location would be near a refrigerator.
- Hot rooms or high temperatures are not suitable for seedlings since it makes them leggy. Make sure to place sprouting plants at cool locations indoors while ensuring they get adequate light.
- As soon as one or two leaves begin to show, start fertilizing your vegetable plants weekly. If possible, use organic fertilizers so they receive all the essential nutrients they need for superior growth.
It will take from a few weeks to a couple of months to harvest your crop, depending on the type of herb or vegetable. But, if you follow our suggestions and take good care of your plants, you should have a healthy, abundant harvest in no time!