Six out of ten people have a strong need to own a garden.
Leveraging the benefits of a garden is one of the best ways to ensure a regular supply of fresh produce every day.
Some people want to spend time outdoors in their gardens, and others just want to save the cost of taking trips to the grocery store for their favorite vegetables.
So what if you live in an urban area with no space for a garden?
It doesn’t mean you can’t grow your own indoor vegetable garden.
Learn everything necessary about creating your indoor vegetable garden below.
Find The Perfect Place
Make indoor gardening your new hobby, especially with the endless quarantines and restricted movement interfering with recreational pursuits.
Gardening has profound benefits for your health. It guarantees healthy organic vegetables for your diet, and don’t forget the amount of oxygen it adds to your immediate environment.
Unsurprisingly, natural surroundings tend to elevate your mood and relieve stress. For example, vegetables or herbs transform your house into the ultimate place for rest after a long day at work.
First things first, what is the perfect place to set up your indoor gardening?
Of course, the strategic positioning of your plants is everything. But, let’s face certain facts–it can be challenging to set up an indoor garden in the living room. The dirt and water can make the place messy.
Don’t forget the frequent tampering of your plants when you want to clean the place or when children or pets are playing around.
Another consideration is lighting.
Examine these tips to find the perfect place for your indoor garden:
First, choose an area that has sufficient lighting. A place that has a south-facing window for maximum lighting from the sun rays is a good place to start. South-facing windows get full sunlight even in winter.
Activity: Set up your indoor garden when there’s minimal interference from other activities. If you have an empty room, that’s the best area.
Access to water: The perfect location should have easy accessibility for watering.
Ventilation: Plants can suffocate, too, so ensure that the location you choose has sufficient temperature and ventilation control. The correct temperature is prime for processes like germination.
Avoid places with slopes: An area with a high gradient causes water runoff, increasing soil erosion. Besides, with high rises, water isn’t available for optimal absorption by plants.
Choose Correct Plants
The success of your indoor vegetable garden relies on the plants you choose. Planting the wrong vegetables is a good learning curve but will be disappointing.
While most herbs do well indoors, the same does not apply to vegetables. So, before going further, here’s a list of the most appropriate vegetables to plant in your indoor vegetable garden:
Although all these vegetables do well indoors, there are still several considerations to think about.
From the list, you still must narrow down your options. Before settling for one option, here are some issues to think about:
How much space do you have? Some veggies require sufficient spacing. Plant vegetables that the area can accommodate. When they start growing, they demand more space and air circulation.
How much dark cover is in the apartment? For urban indoor vegetable gardens, there are high chances of frequent darkness. A good example is if you want to grow peppers–they can’t thrive in shady environments. If the place is dark, consider planting vegetables such as kales, spinach, or lettuce which are more tolerant of less light.
Patience: Some indoor gardeners are not that patient. If you fit this category, you want to consider vegetables that don’t take much time to grow before reaching maturity. A good example is microgreens–you’ll harvest them in just ten days after planting!
Growing characteristics of plants: Some vegetables do well in indoor gardens. For example, you can’t grow pumpkins in an indoor garden for obvious reasons such as size and growth characteristics. Plants that climb and sprawl aren’t the best options for indoor vegetable gardens.
The main point is that you should always choose vegetables that you can maintain within indoor conditions. Rushing into growing just any type of vegetable will bring regret.
My recommendation is to avoid vegetables that take too long to mature. You can also grow two or more varieties due to limited space.
The best choices are spinach, kale, and tomatoes. Planting a variety of vegetables ups your chances of success. You can cook spinach while giving lettuces a few more days to mature after picking, for example.
Soil Choices Matters
Soil choice puts you on the right track for success as an indoor gardener. Most people use potting soils for their veggies or herbs.
They do a great job in anchoring your plants, reserving water and nutrients while maintaining good aeration for your plants.
If you’re fortunate to have a backyard or your neighbor has a garden, please refrain from digging up that soil for your indoor garden. This soil isn’t the most favorable for your veggies. Instead, try using potting mixes for indoor gardens.
Purchasing a potting mix is the best soil choice due to the rich balance of nutrients.
In addition, they contain peat and compost, both of which are vital for healthy vegetables. Using these organic soils for indoor plants guarantees you excellent produce.
Important! Always ensure that whatever soil mix you purchase is OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) certified.
Many indoor gardeners think that using soil from the backyard will work well. While part of this is true, you may not achieve outstanding results. Such soils may be too dense for your plants, not hold sufficient water, or are depleted of nutrients.
However, you can still use your regular garden soil but with appropriate compost and fertilizer. Consider seeking expert advice on the proper balancing ratio for specific vegetables.
When considering soil choices, always look for ways to reduce cost, as pricey products might discourage you from starting an indoor garden. Learning some DIY tricks on making your own compost might also help create an indoor vegetable garden.
Natural or Artificial Light
Lighting is critical for your vegetables to carry out photosynthesis and germination. Choosing natural or artificial light all comes down to the perfect place for your indoor garden and the type of plants you wish to grow.
If your indoor garden receives enough light, then you’re good to go. Natural light from large windows will be sufficient for plant growth.
However, remember that your ability to use natural light depends on whether you have planted light-tolerant plants. These are plants that are not sensitive to shady conditions.
On the other hand, if you are not lucky enough to have sufficient lighting, go artificial. For example, many indoor gardeners use fluorescent lights. But, unfortunately, these lights do not work – they emit too much heat and end up consuming too much energy.
The best alternative for artificial lighting is LED full spectrum grow lights. You can check out more options in the five best led full spectrum grow lights. Grow lights provide the best light balance for your plants while maintaining low energy consumption.
Only choose artificial lights when there isn’t enough light in your indoor garden and if you’ve planted light-thirsty plants.
How Much Water
Plants, just like animals, need water to survive. Therefore, healthy plants need water regularly.
Most plants absorb their water through the roots, although a select few do it from the air. So, it is critical to water your indoor vegetable garden more often.
Without water, most plants will wilt and die or dry up altogether. To avoid such a fate for your veggies, you’ll need to create a reliable watering routine for sustainability.
However, this can be quite a difficult task. Knowing the right amount of water for your indoor vegetable garden overwhelms even seasoned gardeners.
But it gets incredibly easy once you research plant needs. You should start by understanding the various factors that influence your plant’s water requirements.
These requirements include the plants’ variety, root depth, the type of soil used, and the micro-climate in your planting zone. Below are a few quick tips to provide you with the insight you need for adequate watering.
Most plants require at least one inch of water per week–it’s the benchmark. The best is to rely on your plants to tell you everything regarding their needs.
Firstly, the root depth of your veggies contains valuable clues on how much water is sufficient for your garden. Vegetables can have shallow, medium, or deep roots, depending on which varieties you’re planting.
Shallow-rooted veggies require frequent watering, especially in hot weather, because surface soil loses water rapidly.
Therefore, plants in this category may need daily watering depending on how hot your indoor micro-environment is. Common shallow-rooted veggies include:
Remember, all the factors work together to influence the water needs of your indoor vegetable garden. For example, more heat means more evaporation, which means the plants require frequent watering.
You can water your plants with systems that include water timers for gardens. Light soils with less humus, such as sandy soil, retain less water than clay and loamy soils. At the final call, it’s all about the timing.
Hydroponics is the skill and practice of cultivating plants without a soil substrate or medium. Plants grown with this method get all the nutrients from a mineral nutrient solution dissolved in water.
You can nurture your edible plants this way. You’ll only need a good-sized container to act as a reservoir, a nutrient source, and water. You might also require a couple of grow lights for an indoor vegetable garden, depending on your gardening space.
The most common nutrient solutions are phosphorous, nitrogen, and calcium, which are essential for plant growth. But, let’s first look at some of the benefits and shortcomings of hydroponics.
It eliminates the need for regular watering since the hydroponic system runs primarily on water.
Occupies less space: From small tins that hold a single plant to vertical stacking systems, everything’s designed for saving space, which is excellent for indoor gardening.
Enhanced produce: This is true, especially for veggies. Because the nutrients and lighting are controlled, plants are often densely spaced compared to traditional gardens. Apart from balanced elements suitable for growth, the ability to grow more per square mile enhances yields.
More complex and costly to establish and manage
Plants are prone to waterborne diseases
Requires constant monitoring
Vulnerable to power outages
Does humidity change watering requirements?
The level of humidity affects the amount of water your plants drink. For beginners, humidity simply means the amount of water vapor in the air.
When air-water around your indoor vegetable garden increases to high levels, plants lose less water via transpiration. This simply equates to less watering of your plants.
Conversely, when the humidity levels fall, the rate of transpiration increases, increasing the plant’s watering needs.
You can control the humidity of your indoor garden by optimizing the room temperature. There are automated products for controlling humidity and temperature for your indoor garden.
Water is the source of life, so it is important to know when your plants need water and give it to them. The quickest method to check if your indoor vegetable garden needs water is to poke your finger in the ground to the depth of an inch to gauge the level of moisture.
You can also adopt more sophisticated irrigation methods by establishing an automatic watering system. Nonetheless, most plants depend on moderate moisture to germinate, grow, and flourish.
Growing an indoor vegetable garden is fun and therapeutic. However, knowing how to care for your plants enhances your chances of success in this venture.
Tyler C Rich is the founder and chief editor at TopsyGardening.com. An experienced gardener and a professionally trained agriculture development expert, Rich has worked in the gardening and landscaping industry for more than a few decades. Although he has retired, his spark for developing the best urban and indoor gardens has not faded a bit. He uses TopsyGardening.com as a platform to come across enthusiastic gardeners and share the unique insights he has acquired through years of experience. Rich is interested in aquaponics and technology apart from conventional gardening techniques.