Whether you lack a traditional outdoor garden due to living in the city or a small apartment, or simply want easy access to fresh vegetables, having your own indoor place to grow plants or herbs can be extremely beneficial and rewarding. Not only is it more sustainable than buying plants elsewhere, but you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’re responsible for raising plants from scratch!
Unfortunately, as every aspiring gardener knows, gardening isn’t always easy and sometimes plants grow poorly or even die for seemingly no good reason. If you want to maximize plant growth in your indoor garden, try the following four tips:
Plan Your Indoor Garden
Maintaining an indoor garden is never going to be as simple as bringing a few bunches of your favorite flowers home and suddenly having a perfect indoor paradise, so you’ll need to plan your garden in advance. Some plants just won’t grow unless their environmental conditions are perfect, so don’t set yourself up for failure by trying to tackle too many tricky plants at once. Start slow, and as you start to get the hang of indoor gardening, you can introduce more exotic plants to your space.
If you’re unsure where to start, first consider what you want out of your garden. Do you want to have access to fresh herbs for cooking? Do you want a selection of flowers to brighten your home? Or, like many apartment dwellers, do you want to grow your own vegetables despite your lack of outdoor space?
Think About Lighting and Temperature
Whatever your focus, you’ll need to ensure your new indoor garden has access to either plenty of sunlight or another means of obtaining light. To this end, choose your garden’s location wisely.
If you have access to a large window that receives plenty of sunlight, you’re already well on the way to creating a flourishing indoor garden. Herbs, for example, need about six hours of sunlight a day and grow best when facing south, so keep this in mind when choosing what to plant.
If you don’t live somewhere particularly sunny, or your area’s winter months sometimes seem never-ending, don’t despair – you might just like to focus on plants that don’t need a huge amount of light.
Alternatively, you can stimulate plant growth by using artificial lighting. Particularly popular in gardening communities are spectrum grow LED lights – by installing a set of lights designed to replicate the effects of the sun, your plants will grow as well as they would in the sun outdoors.
Use glass to protect your plants
You might also consider creating yourself a mini greenhouse. Both LED lights and protective glass can trick your plants into believing it’s a different season and growing like they would in their usual climate.
Essentially, all you need to do is to cover them with something like a cloche, which is a bell-shaped glass cover intended to protect your plants from the outside weather and stimulate their growth.
Understand your plants’ needs
All plants are different, so make sure you’re aware of their diverse needs. If you’re planting herbs, ensure that your pots are equipped with drainage holes – herbs need plenty of water to flourish, but they won’t do well if moisture is left to gather at the bottom of their pots. Place them on a liner made of metal or plastic to ensure the collected water doesn’t seep through and ruin the sill or surface the pot is sitting on.
Herbs are relatively easy to keep alive – just ensure that, in winter, they’re not right up against a window. Chives, marjoram, rosemary, and sage are particularly easy to grow and useful for all sorts of meals, so keep a pair of scissors handy.
If you’re thinking about creating your own vegetable garden, you’ll need to read up on the vegetables suited to your gardening abilities and prepare a designated area for them. In particular, if you choose to house a few different types of vegetables in one area, you’ll need a purpose-built container and a tarpaulin to avoid any unnecessary mess.
Try carrots, cherry tomatoes, and lettuce if you aren’t sure where to start: you can use them in a lot of meals, and they generally grow well indoors.
Above all, don’t give up if your plants aren’t growing as quickly as you’d hoped. Gardening is often a test of patience, and you’ll be well rewarded with tasty fruits and vegetables if you can refrain from giving up on your garden during slow periods of growth.
Indoor gardens are appealing for many reasons: they look great and can add a touch of the outdoors to your home, which is beneficial to your health as well as your mental wellbeing – and there’s no reason that your indoor garden can’t flourish as well as an outdoor counterpart, provided you put in the effort required to keep it healthy. Why not plan yours today and start enjoying the benefits that indoor gardening will provide you?
If you choose to plant vegetables and herbs, you’ll reduce your carbon emissions instead of consuming produce flown from across the world, which is definitely a good reason to start your own indoor garden. Additionally, your friends and family will love receiving free homegrown herbs or vegetables – and it’s difficult to beat the satisfaction of making a meal with your own specially grown produce!
Sofia Lockett is a New Zealand-based freelance writer. She is a garden enthusiast and believes that gardening is the best therapy for the soul. Gardening challenges her patience, yet provides a serene feeling when she feels and smells the earth on her hands. You can read more of her articles on her Tumblr.