Indoor Greenhouses - Gardening Year Round Indoors
Start Your Garden Early with an Indoor Greenhouse
One of the best ways to get more time in your garden season is to start your plants indoors. Not only does starting your own plants let you set the schedule for when they can be put out in the garden, but you make the selection process unique to your own gardening style and can put out appropriate plant varieties for your zone.
Starting your own seedlings indoors also allows you to "customize" your variety as many nurseries don't always carry the variety you may be looking for, the type of vegetable you want to plant, or most importantly, the variety that works in your region.
One key to getting your plants started early is an indoor greenhouse. You will create the optimum environment for starting any of your garden vegetables early.
Starting Your Outdoor Seedlings Inside
Indoor greenhouses can solve several problems for gardeners. For example, if you don't have a garden, or even a patio or a balcony, then gardening indoors in a greenhouse may be your only option for growing plants or if you like, flowers.
Indoor greenhouses are also great for starting seedlings for your spring or fall garden. Since many nurseries do not stock seedlings in the fall, having your own space to produce them is economical and practical. Fall can be the most productive time of the year for many gardens in the southern half of the US, so starting the plants indoors gives you complete control of what you grow and when you want your seedlings ready to transplant.
If you are trying to grow plants during the winter months, a greenhouse can be a good way to maintain the proper moisture levels. In many homes the wintertime relative humidity drops quite low (that's why you get all the static electricity discharges when you walk across the carpet) and a greenhouse will help keep the relative humidity elevated for the plants so they don't dry out so quickly. The same thing is true for the temperature control; a greenhouse can give the proper temperature for seed germination and other plant needs.
The simplest of all indoor greenhouses are the windowsill greenhouses. These are usually small plastic containers that hold a number of small peat pots or peat pellets as seed starters, and the box has a clear plastic top that acts to hold in the moisture while letting the light shine in. On some larger units they might include a simple electric heating element (basically a length of resistance wire that heats up when plugged in) to help keep the seeds warm enough to germinate when sitting on a windowsill in the winter months.
Using Fluorescent Lights
Another way to build your own indoor greenhouse is to use a set of fluorescent grow lights in a fluorescent bulb fixture, and hang it over a shelf to provide the light necessary for the plants. This will allow you to grow larger plants than those that fit under the lid of a windowsill unit, but the heat and humidity control is not really handled in this setup.
The most effective approach is using what is sometimes known as a growing rack. These look like a set of shelves, usually 2 or 4 shelves, and they come equipped with a plastic shroud that surround the shelving and provides the environmental control. These portable greenhouses usually have provisions for, and sometimes include, grow lights that sit a few inches above the shelves.
With shelves like these you can grow full sized house plants, or even larger garden sets like tomato plants with relatively little trouble. Plus they take up no more room than a typical bookshelf. You can choose to put them near a window, but since they can hold grow lights you are free to put them wherever is convenient in your home, even putting them in the basement away from all natural lighting.
Curing the Winter Blues
The last advantage is that using an indoor greenhouse to prepare for the spring planting can help cure the winter blues. SAD or seasonal affective disorder creeps among many when a long winter persists or the holidays are over. Just imagine being motivated to watch your seedlings growing in time to start your spring garden - indoors! This is a reality for some and the cure is quite simple!
My daughter lives in the Northeast and after growing up in Texas, it took her four years to adjust to the lengthy winter and longs for the early spring. To help combat the winter blues, she created her own seed library, helped with her towns seed library, pours over seed catalogues to get through the winter months. The victory comes with her own germinated seeds being planted outside in the spring.