When you think of gardening, you probably envision rows of corn or green beans against a colorful horizon. However, gardening is the act of growing food and plants anywhere, even your living room. When cold weather pulls you in from outdoor gardening, remember there is still much you can do to maintain your plants. Bring the garden inside and benefit from year-round produce. If you’re used to traditional outdoor gardening, it might require a change of habits and tools to continue your hobby in the same way. Here are some considerations and essential supplies that will make your move seamless.
Every plant in your in-home garden will be contained in some way. In contrast to the raised beds or in-ground options in your yard, indoor gardening requires some confinement so you will need an assortment of pots, seed trays, flower boxes, and maybe even a bathtub. Identify the goals for your indoor garden and plan accordingly. Will you have some larger options or are you keeping your inventory to 4” plants that you will replant in the spring? Are you growing seeds to take outdoors later or is your indoor focus on houseplants instead? Whatever the case, make sure you have the right receptacle for the job so that you don’t have to replant unnecessarily down the road.
Light and Heat
Growing plants indoors means recreating a bit of nature in the form of sunlight. While some plants will do just fine next to a sunny window and others prefer shade anyway, most indoor gardens will require copious amounts of light. Consider whether you will need grow lamps and evaluate the need for heat output. You could invest in grow light stands that conveniently hold shelves of growing trays, strategically positioned below the built in lights. These offer space organization and easy accessibility to your plants.
You may also want to add heat pads for your plants to sit on, which will emulate the proper ground temperature. This is especially useful for tropical plants like lemon trees or in colder areas of the house like the garage. Streamline the lighting and heat for your plants by using timers to consistently turn them on and off. Another option for temperature control is a grow tent, which works as an indoor greenhouse.
Speaking of artificial light, you will need to consider the nutritional needs of your indoor garden in the absence of natural sunlight. Since the big yellow orb is a key component in the manufacturing of chlorophyll, you’ll want to enhance your indoor garden with the proper nutrients so that chlorophyll is produced as efficiently as it is outdoors.
Other factors of indoor gardening may also require you to tweak your plant’s diet. Shallow root systems and potting soil offer quick drainage and can strip nutrients that are normally trapped underground in your outdoor garden and offer a more consistent food source. This means that you’ll want to invest in a soil test kit and frequently evaluate the nutritional needs of your indoor plants.
One convenient way to ensure proper nutrition is seed pods. These small pots look like corrugated cardboard, but they are loaded with nutrients that naturally break down once they are planted in soil. Some seeds come packed in seed pods so all you have to do is peel back the cover and plant the entire unit. You can also buy the pods and plant your own seeds in them for a reliable balance of food for your plant.
Humidity and Moisture
Also evaluate the temperature of your home. While something like peppers thrive in the blistering summer heat, they may not be satisfied in your 70-degree home. On the other hand, trying to grow lettuce or peas at a constant 75 will make for some unhappy plants.
Humidity is a big part of this equation. You may need to incorporate a humidifier into your indoor system. If you have a stove or wood burning fireplace, you can add humidity by keeping a kettle full of water simmering in the area. Remember that indoor air is often much drier than outdoor air, especially during the winter when the furnace is blowing heated air into the space. Controlling humidity can be as simple as keeping a spray bottle nearby to gently mist delicate indoor plants.
Also keep in mind that the watering requirements of indoor plants may be very different from those in your traditional garden space. Typically the soil retains water less efficiently indoors so more frequent watering may be required. On the other hand, with a controlled temperature, it may require less watering than conditions under the hot sun. Invest in some water/moisture measures to keep in the soil of your indoor plants until you adapt to their requirements.
Bugs and Disease
All gardeners combat bugs at some point in their journey and indoor gardening is no different. In fact, moving your garden to an indoor space where plants are close together can compound the problem. When cultivating indoors, make sure to keep an eye out for critters. Frequently check the health of the plants and watch for evidence of invaders. Look underneath leaves for signs of bugs. Keep some neem oil around to use as a pesticide and fungicide as needed.
While indoor gardening shares many similarities with farming of the land, it does require some special considerations. Fortunately, the modern gardener has the advantage of well-designed supplies made for the specific purpose of ensuring indoor gardening success.