How to Garden Indoors – Guest Post
One of the biggest myths surrounding indoor gardening is the need for a large growing space, and this is why not a lot of homeowners are keen on starting their own indoor gardens. Fortunately, an indoor garden need not take up a lot of space in your home. If a windowsill is the only thing you have in your home, then by all means, maximise that space. To do that effectively, highlighted below are the things you need to do.
Getting Started: Space
The indoor garden can consume as little or as much space, depending on how you want it to look like.
The smallest space that can be used is a small table or a windowsill. On those areas, beginners can grow tomatoes until they develop the habit of gardening. Those more experienced in gardening, on the other hand, can grow more challenging-to-raise plants there.
Another small space one can use for growing plants is a worn-out bench or table. To make the result less messy, set the table somewhere with a linoleum or tile floor, as tile and linoleum are easy to clean. If your home has neither tile nor linoleum flooring, set a tarp under the table garden.
A third small space that can be used is a shelf. If you’re using a shelf, make sure that there’s enough lighting for every plant.
Getting Started: Lighting
Most plants need hours of exposure to natural light, while others do not require that much exposure. Regardless, it’s safe to say that plants need sunlight in order to thrive. Without sufficient amount of light, a plant ends up growing with a spindly body, not enough leaves, and zero flowers / fruits.
To ensure that your plants get sufficient amounts of light, it’s not enough to grow plants on the windowsill. You’ll need a grow light for best results, and not just any light will do. The light to purchase should be one with wavelengths matching the sun’s. Once you’ve purchased this kind of lighting, make sure it is close to the plant, so it does not end up burning the leaves.
Choosing Your Grow Light
Here is a rundown of different grow lights you can choose from.
Incandescent lamps – An inexpensive option, something you can get at either a nursery or hardware store. While considered generally OK for raising houseplants, they do not work wonders when building an indoor garden.
Fluorescent lamps – These work best when it comes to growing herbs as well as other plants which don’t need so much in the way of lighting, and are not recommended for plants which are flowering or budding since these do not put off sufficient amounts of light. The option is inexpensive, and is one you can purchase at a garden supplies store or local hardware.
HID or High Intensity Discharge Bulbs – Expensive, but are considered the most efficient and brightest ones available. A single 1,000-watt bulb is capable of producing the equivalent of 50 40-watt fluorescent lights.
HIDs come in many different types:
– High Pressure Sodium
– Metal Halide
– Mercury Vapour
– Low Pressure Sodium
Indoor gardeners should only get Metal Halide (MH) bulbs and High Pressure Sodium or HPS bulbs.
HPS or High Pressure Sodium bulbs – These emit a red-orange light which is great for flowering plants. Because of its average lifespan, which is 2x the lifespan of metal halides, they are considered economical. It’s not a good light if only one will be used, since it does not emit blue light, which is needed for leafy growth.
Metal Halide or MH bulbs – These emit a blue-white colour, which encourages leafy growth and helps keep all your plants compact. One MH bulb should last a little above ten thousand hours, and produce the maximum of 125 lumens / watt. Remember that the common fluorescent light produces 39 lumens / watt, while the usual incandescent bulbs produce 18 lumens / watt. This type of light is a decent light to start out with. When flowering time comes, go ahead and use a High Pressure Sodium bulb.
CFLs or Compact Fluorescent Lights – Are efficient and bright. In a few cases, they may even be a lot brighter than those fancy HID or high intensity discharge lights. CFLs are a lot smaller and are more efficient compared to older fluorescent lights, and as such, you may use them for every plant. Also, they are known for producing less heat compared to HID and incandescent lights and, consequently, may be placed a lot closer to your plant.
A grow light isn’t just composed of the bulb. It’s an entire system, which includes the cord, reflector, bulb, ballast, and a number of other parts.
Getting Started: Temperature
For many plants, a temperature range of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit is recommended. A variance of ten degrees Fahrenheit will most likely be OK. Too hot plants will end up weak and small, and plants that are grown at super-cold temperatures will end up with yellow leaves, which will eventually just fall off and wither.
Getting Started: Humidity
Achieving the right level of humidity in the home can be quite the challenge for the indoor gardener. Winter has a tendency of being drier than the summer, and by running the heat inside your house, the issue compounds.
Signs of Low Humidity:
– Leaf tips are becoming brown in colour
– Plants look puckered or withered
– Leaves fall
Raising Humidity Tips:
– Mist your plants as necessary.
– Put a water tray near the garden. The tray should then be filled with lava rocks in order to increase evaporation surface area.
– Put close together a number of plants in order to come up with a micro-environment with higher relative humidity.
– Run a humidifier
– Obtain for yourself an environmental controller, which dehumidifies or humidifies according to needs
Getting Started: Growing Medium
An indoor garden benefits from a decent planting medium, and as such, soil that you find outside isn’t appropriate, as it often is so heavy and may contain a number of insects and weed seeds. Instead, choose a mix intended for indoor plants. Good growing media needs to drain well and remain loose, yet have enough organic matter to hold in both moisture and nutrients.
Hydroponics, which literally means gardening without the use of soil, is a good alternative to the soil mix. While soil anchors plant roots, it holds nutrients. On the other hand, with hydroponics, you directly provide nutrients to plants and at the same time, ensure that the plants are grounded to something.
Getting Started: Choosing Your Plants
Nearly all plants may be grown inside your home, provided they do not grow too large eventually. However, it’s important to consider raising together plants with the same humidity, watering, and light needs. Some decent choices for your indoor garden are the following:
Kale, Chard, Onions, Carrots, Peppers
Parsley, Basil, Lavender, Cilantro, Chives
Pansy, Geranium, Roses, Marigold, Alyssum
Blueberries, Citrus, Dwarf-Variety Apples, Strawberries
You can grow plants from seed. If not, you may have them transplanted from the outdoor garden at the season’s end. Plants should be acclimated prior to bringing them into your home, and again once you place them outside during spring or fall.
Getting Started: Moving Your Plants Outside
Seedlings and plants grown inside require a hardening-off period before these can live outdoors for good. The process of hardening off should give them enough time for their cuticles to become thicker and avoid water loss whilst still being capable of withstanding harsh weather. Here are the following steps to acclimate indoor plants so they can thrive outdoors.
– 7 to 10 days prior to plant transplant, put them outside at a cold frame or shady spot for up to four hours.
– Every day, increase the time spent outdoors by up to two hours. Bring plants back inside when night comes.
– Once the third day has passed, put plants under the morning sun. Move these back into the shade by afternoon.
– If temperature stays at around fifty degrees Fahrenheit, your plants must be capable of staying out throughout the day and night after seven days.
– In seven to ten days, transplant the plants or seedlings. If it’s possible, transplant during cloudy days. Water thoroughly.
Getting Started: Moving Your Plants Inside
By the time growing season ends, you might wish to move in plants to the indoor garden. Once you have potted the plants, they will require an acclimation period.
Getting Started: Maintenance
– All container-grown plants dry out quicker than soil-grown plants. As such, they will require more watering than ever. Room-temperature rainwater should always be used, and enough rainwater added until such time that it will run through the container or pot drain holes. To gain the most benefits from rainwater, check out these rain purification methods you probably have not heard of.
Feel the soil with a finger.
– When it comes to the use of fertiliser, know that indoor plants will need more fertiliser as many nutrients that can be found in the growing medium are taken up quickly by your plants, if not leached out when watering.
Nourish your plants with hydroponic nutrients or organic fertilisers. Follow instructions when using them.