With outdoor gardening, in the western hemisphere, you are limited to growing plants only for a few seasons. With indoor gardening, with the proper lighting, heat, and moisture, you can grow your own organic and fresh herbs, teas, veggies and fruits all year round.
Imaging how much tastier, healthier and inexpensive your meals will be if you can grow your own produce even in the coldest winter days.
Of course, you need to keep in mind that some edible plants do much better indoors than others. Leafy greens, sprouts, and microgreens can be grown indoors even when the temperatures are freezing outdoors, and the day is short.
In order to grow your plants indoors all year round, you should follow the following basic tips for successful indoor gardening:
Choose the right containers and pots
When choosing the right pot or container for each plant, keep in mind how big it is expected to grow when it matures. The bigger the plant – the larger the pot should be, in order to accommodate the growing root system and to allow the plant to grow big and healthy.
For leafy greens such as lettuce, and for herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary or sage, a smaller container of just 4 inches in diameter can be sufficient.
While as for cherry tomatoes, you will need to ensure that the pot is at least 1-2 gallons.
Larger plants will require 5-gallon pots or larger.
Start your indoor garden from seeds
Growing a plant from seed is much less expensive, and is much more fun than starting it from a seedling.
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Seeds need a growing media, water, and warmth in order to start germinating. You can place your seeds in a soilless starting mix, water them and cover the container with plastic to keep the moisture in. Place the container in a warm place and wait for that beautiful first couple of leaves to show up on the surface.
Once the seed has germinated, it will need light to grow, so remove the plastic cover and place the plant under direct sunlight, or use a grow lamp or grow tent to ensure it gets sufficient light to grow healthy and strong.
When the plant has grown 2 or 3 sets of true leaves, you can proceed to gently transplant it into its new pot or container.
The reason why leafy greens do better indoors than the plants which flower and produce fruit is the limited natural light inside.
But, with a good quality grow lamp or artificial lighting system, you can provide your indoor plants with all the light they need to thrive, grow, flower and yield fruit, even in the cold winter season.
If you prefer to have all of the factors affecting the growth of your indoor plants under control at all times, you can set up a grow tank, or automated lighting, temperature, and irrigation system, so that they are always getting the light, water and heat they need to grow.
Choose the plants depending on your needs
While taking care of and having your own indoor garden is a lot of fun, the whole idea of having an all year round garden at home is to have access to fresh and organic herbs, veggies and fruits.
So, think about the vegetables, salads, herbs or fruits you use most commonly for cooking at home. Also, figure out which are the products you tend to buy from the grocery store a lot.
Once you have this cleared up, you will have a better idea of which plants to grow inside your home.
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Culinary herbs like basil, oregano, mint, rosemary, and cilantro as well as parsley and dill can always come in handy, and they do not require too much space or special care, so you can set up your herbal or tea garden right in your kitchen.
Some of the other plants which are easy to grow indoors even in the winter are: lettuce, kale, arugula, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, beans, edible flowers (violets, lavender or calendula), and sprouts and microgreens.
Evaluate how much light your plants will need
Look at the plant tags or seed labels to determine how much light each of the plants will need.
If the tag says “direct light” this means that the plant will need at least six or more hours of direct sunlight a day. Those that say “moderate light” will thrive well with just about four hours of light daily. In case the tag says: “indirect light”, then these plants are perfect for spots without too much direct sunlight or for an indoor garden with grow lamps and artificial lighting. The plants with “low light” requirements can grow without any direct sunshine, and with just a little ambient light.
The best option is to group the plants in accordance with their light needs so that you can place them in accordance with the available sunlight or the grow lamps you have set up.
Check out the temperature requirements for the plants
Most edible plants thrive best in temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If you like to keep the temperature indoors higher than 75 degrees, then you may want to opt for tropical plants like succulents and salvia.
Otherwise, you should ensure that there are no drastic changes below and above the recommended temperatures, because these amplitudes can damage and even kill your plants.
Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature in the room where you are planning to set up your indoor garden.
Please note, that plants need at least 50% humidity to live and grow, so during the winter season when the heating is on, you may want to consider using a humidifier, or misting the plants on a daily basis to keep them moisturized.
Choose the best grow media for your indoor plants
You can buy a readymade potting mix, or make your own mix which you will be using for your indoor garden. It is a good idea to choose well-draining soil which allows the water to pass through it faster and not linger in the pot where it can cause damage to the roots.
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Choose a potting mix which is rich in minerals and all the nutrients which your plants will need. Keep in mind that this type of soil tends to dry out quicker, so you want to water your plants more frequently if the soil feels dry when you stick your finger in it.
Use mulch to help keep the temperature of the soil steady and prevent the rapid evaporation of the water.
Mark your plants
Marking your plants when you first plant them will help you remember when you need to water or feed them. This will help you monitor the growth of each individual plant and troubleshoot any issues with the plant in the future.
Growing your indoor garden takes time, care, patience and a lot of love and dedication. But given all the benefits of bringing nature into your home, and being able to eat fresh and completely clean produce all-year-round make all the efforts and time needed for gardening absolutely worthwhile.