Are you a green thumb and have been itching to start gardening, but can’t wait till spring? Backyard space limited? Indoor vegetable gardens are as easy as an indoor herb garden and most aren’t that complicated even for beginners. Any gardener without a green thumb can get away with creating the perfect indoor garden with simple step-by-step instructions.
There are a number of well-known positive effects of growing indoors, such as reducing daily stress, improving air quality in your home, and reducing carbon dioxide not to mention the health benefits of choosing to grow your own food instead of going to the grocery store. And who doesn’t love healthy food?
More and more Americans are increasingly turning to indoor vegetable and herb gardening and hydroponic farming for fresh and healthy food and to save on groceries. Plants require very little, some water & high-quality organic potting soil, plant seeds, good lighting, and some containers with proper drainage and lighting. That is basically everything plants need to thrive.
No matter the reason why you choose an indoor garden in the house, your family will love it. Growing plants and vegetables is easy! Hydroponic growing devices and indoor kits do not have to be very expensive and cost little money. These kits all do the same function from the advanced to the basic kits and all use growing lights or extended direct sunlight for photosynthesis. Very few tools are needed to grow vegetables and herb plants to thrive indoors and you can easily order an indoor gardening kit from amazon.
With modern technology, determination, and patience, and some gardening skills all of these things are possible with great results!
A major benefit of indoor gardening is a more precise control of the environment. You can control the temperature, sunlight, water intake, and garden soil requirements for your plants much more accurately than in an outdoor garden.
It is now an increasingly popular hobby to build amazing indoor gardens. No need to brave the cold and stormy weather – you can grow all the ingredients to your salad inside. If you want to learn some more indoor gardening ideas and basics, read on and make sure to visit my blog for the most important chemical and pesticide-free gardening tips to get the process started!
For indoor garden beginners, there are various tips and tricks in this article to get you going in no time at all. Beginners can grow spectacular gardens and fresh produce as well as experts, and your expertise and experience will definitely help you adjust and expand your selection. So let us ask and answer some of the most common questions for those just beginning on their indoor gardening journey.
What can I grow in an indoor garden?
No matter how big or small your garden will be, there are a few important things to know and questions to ask before you start.
Growing an indoor garden as a beginner can be as simple as throwing a small cactus in some potting mix and give it some indirect light on the windowsill and watering it for a month, or as complicated as growing a full-grown vegetable garden throughout the kitchen.
Indoor vegetable growing requires a little planning and a lot of patience, but you will enjoy the advantages of indoor gardening for beginners as well as the benefits for your family.
As you evolve from a beginner to an experienced gardener, you will find a network of gardening enthusiasts in your area to help you make this rewarding pastime at home a pleasure. Whether you’re planning an indoor garden with just a few plants, buying the right plants and equipment, or tending your garden to full bloom, or starting to grow herbs we hope these tips will give you all the information you need to get started.
An Indoor herb garden
For beginners growing herbs indoors, would is an easy way to start. Herbs such as rosemary, oregano thyme, chili, basil, and mint grow best from young plants purchased from a garden center or seed.
Although herbs (basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, etc.) can be grown indoors, they need moderate to high amounts of light and higher temperatures compared to cruciferous vegetables such as spinach or kale.
If you are a beginner indoor gardener, we suggest that you start off the latter.
From that point, you can move on to one or more intermediate plants, such as herbs. Finally, once you have mastered the technique you can feel confident challenging yourself with advanced indoor plants and larger vegetable gardens.
An Indoor vegetable garden
Not all vegetables are perfect for indoor gardening simply due to constraints on lighting and space. However, some small vegetables can do very well. Here’s a list of popular vegetables that can be grown indoors.
- Hot Peppers
- Carrots or root crops
- Green Onions/Scallions
- Leafy Salad Greens
- Swiss Chard
It is possible to grow all sorts of fruits, herbs, and low-calorie veggies inside your house. The easiest vegetables to grow indoors are leaf vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, mustard greens, swiss chard, watercress, microgreens, basically any kind of power greens.
These plants’ ability to grow in moderate light, and their tolerance for the cold, make them superior indoor plants. They also don’t take up as much space as others such as vegetables, such as tomatoes, corn, or peas that grow tall and have long stalks or vines.
How To Start An Indoor Vegetable & Herb Garden
Start With An Indoor Garden Kit & Seeds/Seedlings
Indoor garden kits give you everything you need for indoor gardening and can be easily bought online or at your local home center.
Choose a Location
The first step in indoor gardening is to decide where exactly the garden belongs and what should be planted. When selecting your indoor garden location think about the size of the vegetables and herbs you want to grow.
The variety of plants you can grow in an indoor garden is virtually limitless. Most types of plants can be grown indoors, and the only limitation is the space that you have available. The best plants to grow indoors are ones that prefer low to medium amounts of light and don’t take up a ton of space.
Choosing your containers
Tomatoes and peppers must get at least 1 to 2 gal for their smaller varieties and greens can grow in almost any size container or pot. If you can’t be bothered with a watering schedule consider purchasing a self-watering container. A good plastic container with a drainage hole should be able to hold enough moisture to prevent soil from becoming oversaturated.
For indoor plants, potting soil is critical for plants to keep plants growing. The ideal soil for an indoor garden is organic potting soil with minerals and nutrients.
Temperature & Climate
The temperature range inside your house is a lot less than the variable temperature range of outdoor plants experience. The highest and lowest seasons of the summer and winter can be especially challenging for the cultivation of delicate plant species. If your plants are being blasted by unnecessary amounts of sun, it is impossible to control the measurement of sunlight your plants get if they are deeply rooted in the ground. And, in addition, potted plants can just be moved to a different location to a shadier area to reduce incoming sunlight. If your plants are sensitive to the volume of water they receive, you can also control that by planting them indoors. This can avoid the futility of trying to address rainfall, drought, or other water-related situations outside.
Fertilize your plants regularly but not too much
Most plants absorb minerals and substances as they digest the soil through their roots in the soil. In an indoor environment, the amount of nutrients available to the plant can deplete slowly. The rough recommended frequency of fertilization varies weekly, monthly, or once or twice in three months. It’s best to do a little research and find out what works best for plant growth and you’re indoor garden.
Sunlight Or Grow Grow Lights?
A typical problem common to indoor gardening is providing an indoor garden enough bright light or supplementing direct light to give indoor plants sufficient amounts of natural light for healthy growth. How much light do you need? Many vegetables and herbs need at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Flowering fruits, such as strawberries or tomatoes, need at least 8 hours per day but do best from 10 hours of sun daily. While many indoor home gardeners can’t offer this to their plants, it is possible to purchase grow lights or create a light system for your personal garden. We’ll discuss artificial lighting in further detail later on in this article.
Most homes have rather low humidity compared to the outdoors so if need you can purchase a cheap humidifier. This lack of atmospheric water can negatively impact many species of plants. There are different ways to combat this, indoor plants should be sprayed or misted with water every day or every other day, depending on the humidity preferences of the plants and evaporation. While many people are aware that proper water supply to a plant’s roots is important, they often overlook the importance of balancing the water available to the rest of the plant and sometimes overwater causing roots to rot.
Many indoor gardeners also run into an air circulation problem with their gardens. This is because many homes have little to no airflow designed into them. A stagnant environment can potentially lead to mold or fungus growth as water or contaminants build up over time. In addition, if there are no insects inside your home, your garden is probably lacking some good pollinators. Believe it or not, the wind is a great pollinator. Windy conditions can be replicated with an electric oscillating fan to help you circulate air and pollinate your garden.
Advanced indoor growing
Certain varieties of plants take a lot longer to flower and bear fruit or grow vegetables. Examples of these include tomatoes or squash. Although it’s not impossible, the challenges to growing these are much greater compared to others. Several of these plants have particular requirements for optimal water to soil moisture conditions. Because of temperature changes and needs peppers, strawberries, and citrus fruit require direct sun and high temperatures, which can be extremely challenging to provide indoors. If you have the patience and resources to do so though, you can cultivate these plants! Achieving this level of indoor gardening prowess can be especially rewarding.
When Should I Start Indoor Gardening?
You can start gardening indoors at any time! This is yet another benefit of having an indoor versus an outdoor garden. Because of the more forgiving indoor temperature conditions, you don’t have to wait for the frost dates to pass before getting started. For those of you just hearing about this concept, frost dates are the average annual date of the last freeze of spring and the first frost of fall. Frost dates differ depending on the area you live in. When planting outdoors, it is pertinent to pay attention to these dates and avoid attempting to grow plants when it is too cold for survival. But when starting a garden indoors, you are free to start whenever you’d like as long as you are prepared to work hard to provide the conditions your indoor plants need.
Although frost dates aren’t a huge factor when it comes to indoor gardening, it is important to consider the amount of light that the different times of year have to offer your plants. During the summertime, there is typically more sunlight available for the plants to take in each day. You can save on your electricity bill by using plant lights less and starting your new garden during the spring or summer. If you don’t have artificial lighting you may want to plan around the time of year that has the natural lighting that your plants need.
What do I need to set up an indoor vegetable garden?
Typical indoor gardening supplies you will need for vegetable gardening include:
- Light – either placement near the windowsill with direct sunlight or indirect light or a grow light
- Growing medium or potting soil with essential nutrients
- A container or pots with proper drainage or even hanging baskets (I like to reuse containers)
- Pebbles and peat moss
- Source of humidity (spray bottle or mister works fine)
- Temperature control – either a thermostat within your home, grow lights, or a seedling warmth mat
- Fertilizer or plant food or compost (to help replenish the nutrition & nutrients in the dirt that your plants indoors use to grow). A slow release fertilizer is perfect
- Seeds or transplants
- Oscillating air fan
How Do I Start My Indoor Garden?
Potting soil: Seed starting mix and growing medium are good soil options to use if you are starting seeds. These mixtures have sterile properties, are pH controlled, reduce the transfer of pests, disease, weed seeds, and have balanced nutrients. Once the seeds have germinated, potting soil or other less sterile forms of soil can be used.
Light: A dedicated gardening light is essential for difficult to grow plants to thrive such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and other fruiting and flowering plants. It is also a good option for gardeners who live in less sunny areas or want a consistent source of light for their seeds. Natural lighting, or light near the windowsill, can suffice for most beginner gardening needs. But these light sources can be stretched thin during the winter months and cooler temperatures.
Watering and a container with drainage holes: Similar to outdoor gardening, it is essential to make sure your indoor plants are getting enough water and follow watering frequency. Indoor planting comes with its own irrigation challenges, though. Make sure there are holes in your containers to let the excess water out. This will keep your plants from sitting in drenched soil with more water than they need. Failing to do so can lead to one of several problems, such as root rot or plant death.
Fertilizer: The terms “plant food” and “fertilizer” are often used interchangeably but are basically nutrients. Leaf vegetables, herbs, and other similar plants should be fertilized monthly with either compost, liquid fertilizer, or slow-release fertilizers, whereas fruiting plants should be fertilized every couple of weeks. Fertilizer and nutrients replenishment is essential for successful plant growth and the root system.
Time until maturity: Seed packets and online resources about fruiting plants will provide you with a good estimate for the maturation times of different plants. These estimates can help you to know when your indoor plants are ready to harvest. Keep in mind that these times are usually underestimated when it comes to indoor gardening. These gardens will generally see slower growth due to reduced light levels relative to the outdoors.
Seedling heating mat: You can find heating mats (similar to heat pads) that provide the warmth that seeds need to germinate and mature into full plants. These mats usually run between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, and keep the soil and root area heated. The mats can run in different sizes to cover larger soil beds depending on how many seeds you’re starting at once, and what your seedlings or plants need. Most of these mats are waterproof, and using one ensures that all of your seeds are receiving both equal amounts of heat and regulated temperatures. If you live in a colder area or want to garden in a cold basement, a seedling heat mat could help in this situation.
Contrary to common belief, there are many plants that you can grow indoors. If you have the dedication, patience, and supplies that are required for successful indoor gardening, you can essentially grow anything you want inside your own home! Gardeners can experience many benefits when bringing their hobby indoors. Greater control over light, water, pollination, soil, and other environmental factors can allow one to experiment with different means of boosting plants’ growth. You can also have the freedom to garden at any time of year, without having to worry about frost dates. Hopefully, these top tips helped you gain some foundational knowledge of this fun and relaxing hobby. If you have the room and the determination, try indoor gardening!