SIMPLE Steps on How to START an Indoor Garden! 🌳
The Covid-19 pandemic made most American families spend a lot of time indoors due to the containment efforts that were enforced by the authorities. As a result, many people started indoor gardens to keep them busy during the day. These gardens also came in handy in providing fresh, nutritious, and affordable vegetables without making frequent trips to the grocery stores. Besides, numerous Americans discovered that indoor gardening reduced their stress and elevated their moods. Fortunately, it is easy to start and successfully operate indoor gardens, even in households with limited backyard space. If you have intended to start your indoor garden, now is the time to do it. We have listed out some simple steps on how to start an indoor garden described below that will make this dream or goal a reality.
1. Make a plan
We have all heard from someone else that failing to plan for something you are interested in is simply planning to fail. The same school of thought applies to indoor gardening. You need a plan  that will guide you when it comes to the actual gardening work. Planning involves knowing the amount of space you have for the indoor garden. This will assist you in determining the number of plants you can successfully grow in the space. It also involves conducting plenty of research about the climate and weather patterns in your locality. This information will assist you in knowing the plants that will thrive in your garden.
Another critical thing that needs planning is the type and size of the indoor garden and the beds. The size of beds should allow you to reach the center from any side, so your height will matter when planning. Alternatively, you can plan to make standard size beds. Experienced indoor gardeners prefer raised beds because they look more beautiful and are easier to work on. However, they tend to dry out faster. If you reside in a very hot or dry area, plan to make sunken beds to prevent quick dry out.
You should always remember that indoor gardens are small in size, so you should maximize the available space. To do this, plan your rows or grid patterns as this will maximize the available growing space. Each plant should have adequate space to grow and produce optimal yield. If you wish to plant more, you can plan a vertical garden. The final step in the planning process is determining the basic indoor gardening tools you will need. Without the right tools, you will not enjoy gardening. Always choose high-quality tools. Some of the basic tools to include in your shopping list are a garden shovel, garden hoe, leaf rake, dirt rake, and a scuffle hoe.
2. Decide which herbs and vegetables you want
Indoor gardens allow you to grow a wide variety of plants. Many horticulture books also offer a wide variety of plants, but which ones are most suitable for you ? Some of the factors that will guide you in determining the plants to grow are discussed below.
Availability of Varieties
Some indoor plant varieties are more popular than others, and this affects their availability. A lesser-known plant variety or a new variety is likely to be challenging to find easily in your region. If the seeds of the plants you are interested in are not readily available in physical stores, you can check online.
If you do not find them online, it is wise to choose other varieties that are easy to find.
Herbs are some of the most readily available plants for indoor gardens. They are compact and easy to grow. Some of the commonly grown herbs are mint, basil, and rosemary. The seeds of green vegetables are also readily available. If you feel that the green vegetables grow too big for your space, you should consider microgreens that are great for salads and garnishing other dishes.
Usually, seeds are cheaper than plants are. If you are on a limited budget, buying seeds is the best choice.
Most plants require natural light to grow well, but this may be a challenge in an indoor garden. For this reason, it is wise to choose plants that can do well in a bit of shade. Spinach, lettuce, beets, arugula, radishes, carrots, and kale are some of the plants that do well in a bit of shade, and they are perfect for salads. If you still wish to grow plants that demand plenty of light to thrive, you should invest in good quality clip-on grow lights or other grow lights that will work best in your indoor garden.
Size of Plants
It is common knowledge that different plants have different maturity sizes. Avoid planting varieties that sprawl, crawl, spread, or occupy plenty of space in your indoor garden. Varieties such as squash and pumpkins need plenty of room to grow, so it is best to avoid them.
Will you consume the plants you are growing? If you or your family members do not consume a specific food crop, you should not grow it. Instead, grow plants that you and your loved ones enjoy eating. If you choose to grow inedible flowers, choose the varieties you like.
3. Choose between a soil-based or hydroponic indoor garden
Many people grow indoor plants in pots filled with soil. The soil anchors the plants act as a water reservoir and allow oxygen to get to the roots. Did you know that growing your favorite indoor plants in soil is not the only option you have? Technological advancement has led to the development and successful use of hydroponics. A hydroponic garden does not use soil. Instead, other materials are used to support plants’ roots, and nutrient-rich water is the most common material. The water provides oxygen to the plants’ roots, and fertilizer is added to supply the required nutrients.
You should decide whether a soil or hydroponic indoor garden is best for you. Your budget will influence your choice. Usually, hydroponic gardens are more costly than soil gardens. If you choose a soil garden, ensure you determine if your soil is alkaline, acidic, or neutral pH. It is also necessary to know the type of soil you have and the number of basic nutrients. You can tell some characteristics of the soil from observation. However, you may require home or professional lab tests to determine other characteristics. Also, your soil should not contain heavy metals. Healthy soil will yield healthy plants to meet your nutritional needs.
If you choose a hydroponic garden, you should also have a basic understanding of your plants’ needs. Having this information will help you to choose the correct fertilizer for the plants. Most indoor plants thrive at a pH of about 7 and correct nutrient levels.
4. Figure out your indoor garden location
Where will you locate your indoor garden? It is important to choose a convenient location. When you first sow seeds, heat should be your primary consideration. After germination, the priority becomes light instead of heat. You can balance these two elements by choosing a good spot within your home. Avoid growing your indoor plants in drafty areas. Choose a location that receives sunlight, and if this is not possible, install artificial lights.
The number one rule in choosing the location for your indoor garden is choosing the spot that receives the best light. You should also consider the climate in your locality and avoid cold windows in winter. Most vegetables and fruits require at least 5 hours of direct sunlight each day, while herbs, root vegetables, and greens do well in partial shade. The location you choose should meet these requirements.
The location you choose should also allow you easy access whenever you want to water or pick your plants. If you choose a hard-to-reach location, your garden will look neglected within a couple of weeks. The spot you select for your indoor garden should also be out of reach of young children and pets. If your dogs or cats play in your garden, especially after sowing your seeds, the germination rate may be poor. Be wise when choosing the location for your indoor garden.
5. Choose your containers to grow in
Indoor gardening is great because you can reuse different containers in your house. Yogurt cups, for example, are perfect for growing small plants. Most indoor plants can grow in small containers that are at least 2 or 3 inches deep. These containers can be used to germinate seeds for transplanting. The containers you choose should be biodegradable to avoid polluting the environment. It is crucial to ensure the containers you choose have outlets or holes to drain excess water because most roots will rot if they sit in excess water. If the containers do not have holes, make some yourself. If you intend to grow bigger plants, get bigger pots. Peppers and tomatoes, for example, require 1 to 2-gallon pots for the smaller varieties and 3 to 5-gallon pots for the larger varieties. Avoid overcrowding the containers.
Once you choose the containers for growing your indoor plants, clean them well to kill any bacteria or disease that could harm the seeds or seedlings. You can clean them with a solution made of one part bleach and nine parts of water for disinfection. If you can, sow your seeds in CowPots. These are containers made of composted cow dung, so you can use them in your outdoor garden after transplanting your indoor plants.
Let’s be honest for a second, not all of us remember to water our indoor plants. If you are forgetful, consider purchasing self-watering containers. These have a water storage area under the plants, and the plant pulls out water from this reservoir when needed. These pots reduce the risk of under or overwatering the plants. Do not forget that it is your responsibility to refill the reservoir when it runs empty.
Tips for choosing the right container
- Plastic containers are a good choice because they retain moisture well.
- Reuse and recycle old cans and plastic bottles to save the planet from further pollution.
- Use rocks to line the bottom of the containers you choose for better drainage.
- If you choose wooden containers, use cedar or redwood containers because they are rot-resistant.
- Never use containers treated with chemicals as they may leech into the planting material and cause your plants’ death.
6. Load it with soil
Now that you have the perfect location for your indoor garden, know the plant varieties you want to grow, and have suitable containers, preparing the soil should be your next step. Getting the perfect soil or growth media for your indoor plants is very easy because indoor gardens are quite small, unlike outdoor gardens. You can load your containers with a store-bought sterile potting mix or a seed-starting mix.
Although some people choose to dig up soil from their backyards or other outdoor spaces for use in their outdoor gardens, potting mix is the best option. High-quality potting mix is light, fluffy, and contains fertilizer. If it does not contain fertilizer, add a suitable one.
7. Plant your seeds or transplant
Purchase the seeds of the plants you decided to plant or transplant seedlings in your indoor garden. Before buying seeds, ensure you find out more about the companies to ensure you pick good brands with a good germination rate. You should also ensure the seeds are dated for the season and not expired. Once you get your seeds, sow them according to the instructions on the packaging. You can choose to germinate and grow the seeds in the same location or transplant the seeds after germination. Plants that grow bigger as they mature should be transplanted before they outgrow small containers. After transplanting, you can harvest one or two leaves regularly to encourage the plant to continue growing.
8. Water your indoor garden
Have you ever killed an indoor plant due to over or underwatering? You are not alone. Numerous people find it challenging to give their plants the correct amount of water. Watering your indoor garden should not be difficult. You should give just enough water to keep the soil moist. The container should have drainage holes to avoid waterlogging that causes root rot. You should also check the soil moisture every day by sticking your finger into the soil. It should be moist all the way. If your finger comes out dry, it is time to water the plant.
Usually, the growing conditions determine how often you should water your indoor plants. If you reside in a warm area where the humidity is low, you will need to water the plant more often. Newly transplanted plants should be watered more frequently than older plants. The topsoil of newly transplanted should remain moist at all times the first couple of weeks.
9. Fertilize your indoor garden
Using fertilizer is important in the growth of healthy indoor plants. If you use potting mix, ensure you know the kind of fertilizer that it contains. Some mixes contain slow-release fertilizers that last a long time before you are required to add more. If you notice your plants look pale and stunted, you should fertilize your indoor garden. You can choose liquid or slow-release fertilizers for your plants. Remember that not all fertilizers are the same, so you must choose a balanced one for the specific plants you have in your garden. When fertilizing your garden, ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid over-fertilizing that reduces the yield.
Starting an indoor garden is not as difficult as many people imagine. On the contrary, it is very easy, especially if you follow the simple steps on how to start an indoor garden described in this article. You should plan for your garden, decide on the plants to grow, get a suitable location, fertilize the garden, and water the plants regularly. All these activities are simple for both beginner and experienced indoor gardeners. We hope that the steps we have explored will help you start and run a successful indoor garden.