How to Grow An Indoor Garden (That Won't Disappoint)
Who doesn’t have plants inside their home? Many of us do (and these days, with new laws, we have more plants than usual). But just like those special plants, growing gardens inside requires a little more love and attention in order to get those babies to produce for you. So whether you're starting from seeds or seedlings, here is what you need to do.
What You Need to Grow a Successful Indoor Garden
The Right Soil:
First things first, make sure you are using the right soil for an indoor garden. Use a soil mix that is geared towards indoor planting. Your soil should be loose and have proper drainage. Soil taken from outside is not recommended, since it can be more dense and can also have nasty pests and weed seeds (not the fun kind) lurking inside.
Next up, fill (and I can’t stress this enough) your container to the top with soil. Always think about the room your garden’s roots will need to flourish. Growing carrots or beets? Make sure your container is deep enough for those delicious roots. Also, stay away from plastic containers. They break down fast and hold heat, which can affect the plants health. Fabric containers release heat, keeping your green lovelies cool and keeps the roots from circling.
Depending on what you're growing, think about the space your gardens will be inhabiting. For bigger plants, make sure they have enough room. Make them cozy with the right temperature. Most plants prefer 70 to 72°, but they usually can do well in what we humans are comfortable with. That being said, leafy greens and some herbs do prefer cooler spots. So if you’re growing salad greens and cool weather herbs like cilantro, dill and parsley, find a cooler spot in your home for them.
The Right Light
So I can put this in front of a window and that’s it, right? Wrong! There is a lot of forethought that needs to happen when starting a garden inside. A big part of that is appropriate lighting or grow lights. Light from the sun, if broken down, is made from all colors of the rainbow. The three that play a major role in plant life are red, blue and green. If you want lush and healthy gardens, they will need full spectrum lighting. Your best bet is a white full spectrum LED grow light. Make sure it says ‘Grow Light’ when purchasing. These lights give off a nice ambience all while containing the well needed red, blue and green wavelengths that nourish your darlings.
The red light is vital for seed germination. And as your plants grow and expand, this wavelength is what also makes your plants flower and produce fruit.
The blue light is responsible for producing chlorophyll. Giving you strong, bright green plants. Green light is not easily absorbed into plants like the red and blue, but this allows it to enter deeper through the plant's coverings, getting to those leaves hidden by the lush foliage on the top, and assisting the photosynthesis process; creating a healthy garden.
If you’re growing greens and herbs, they need less light than your usual higher output plants. So you could put these babies a bit further from the grow lights. Usually 12 hours of light a day is good. If you have a particularly bright window, you can place them there, then move them back to the grow lights when it gets dark, cutting down the time the lights are on.
For your plants that need more energy, like tomatoes, peppers and basil to name a few, natural light from the window won’t be sufficient enough, especially during the darker, colder months. To produce flowers and fruit they will need at least 6 to 8 hours of light a day. LED grow lights usually produce good lighting with less heat. But either way, make sure your grow lights are 6 to 12 inches from your plants. If you have short or super young plants, boost them up to make sure they get enough light.
The Right Amount of Water
Try not to drown your plants by dumping a bunch of water on them. This could blow out your seeds or ruin your seedlings. Water gently and thoroughly. You want the water to run through, but not enough where your plant is sitting in a pool of water. Make sure to use water at room temperature. Plants in containers need more water than ground-bound gardens. You can also check the moisture of your plants by sticking your finger in the soil, just in case. Just keep an eye out on your plants. They will show signs if you’re under or over watering them.
If you’re under watering, signs are: dry soil (duh!), brown edges, wilting starting on the outer leaves first, premature dropping of flowers and leaves.
If you’re overwatering: discoloration can occur, the plant will wilt starting from the stem going up, lower foliage will start dropping and the plant can stop growing.
To keep your green babies plump, make sure the humidity levels are between 40 to 50%. To help this along, you can place a tray of water near your plants. Try keeping your plants near each other too, so that they create a moisture sphere in that area. Misting your plants everyday or running a humidifier is also a good option.
Another important element is fertilizing your garden. Adding nutrients twice a month is recommended. You might not need to do this in the beginning, but after a while, the nutrients will start to leach out, so maintenance with fertilizing is key for a productive garden.
A Helping Hand For Your Indoor Garden
Growing vegetables inside takes a little EXTRA love than salad and herbs. When plants, such as tomatoes, peppers and beans start flowering, you can play the bumble bee and give your plants a helping hand by hand-pollinating. Using a small paint brush or the tip of your finger, make sure you rub down the inside of the flower with the pollen. Spread it around, but be(e) gentle.
Reasons to Grow a Garden Inside
On top of the delicious reasons to grow a garden, there are other cool things to take into perspective of having plants inside your home:
Plants cleanse the air. With lots of toxic compounds inside our houses from furniture and allergens, plants help filter the air out, making it nicer during those cold and stuffy months.
You know the humidity requirement for your plants? Well that also helps in your complexion too. You're keeping your skin along with those greens nice and plump.
Looking at living green things reduces stress. Nature Therapy has been proven to help with dropping anxiety levels and also boost creativity and production. When you're relaxed, your brain can think more clearly and make better decisions.
Plants love music! But not just any music, jazz and classical music. These tunes usually rest between 150 and 250 Hz, which is what plants prefer. Studies have shown that music can help with stimulating growth. So next time bust out the Beethoven or the Miles Davis records for some easy listening. Just try to keep it within 1 to 3 hours a day.
Plants are also water detectives. In 2017 the University of Western Australia did a study and found that plants respond to sounds of water through sound vibrations. This sense allows them to seek out water with their roots. The study found that these plants extended their roots towards water pipes and water channels in the soil.
The Future of Indoor Gardens
More and more people are trying their hand at indoor gardening these days. Whether it’s due to lack of outdoor space, wanting fresh vegetables during the winter or preparing for the apocalypse, new research and technology has made it easier than ever to grow and maintain an indoor garden. Just be patient, be knowledgeable of your plants and give lots of care and love to your little green paradise. Do this and you won’t be disappointed.
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