Indoor Vegetable Gardening Using Containers
Indoor Gardening Made Easy
Indoor gardening is a good option for urban living, apartment dwellers, and for those who want to keep the aura of an outdoor garden inside when the cold winter months are never ending and cabin fever has set in.
Learn some good ideas and troubleshooting tips for indoor vegetable gardening. From home grown salad ingredients or something simple like an indoor herb garden kit to more substantial meals, we see what it takes to put a little oasis of nature inside your home.
How To Begin Your Container Vegetable Garden
Chose The Correct Planting Container
Whether you are beginning a container vegetable garden or an indoor herb garden, it is important to choose the proper pot; a pot too small will crowd the roots and very large pots will need a manner of moving them so they can take best advantage of the available sunlight. All pots for container vegetable gardening need to provide adequate drainage and be large enough to allow the finished plant room to grow, not just as seedlings.
The material the pot is made out of and the color of the pot are important factors to consider for container vegetable gardens; each climate has a type of pot which is best suited to produce the best results. Cold climates with little sun can enjoy dark colored pots made of metals as they can stand up to the winter cold, and there is little worry of overheating heating the root system during the summer months.
Warner climates should choose wood and clay containers for vegetable gardens; they allow the roots to breathe and wood will retain moisture to allow less frequent watering. Light colored pots will help to assure the roots do not get over heated as this will kill the plant. This is a good lesson on paying attention to not only what the plant that you see is doing but that the roots and undergrowth are well taken care of also.
Location and Lighting
Choosing the location for the containers for a vegetable garden is an important step. Many vegetables require full sun; full sun generally means at least 6 hours of sunlight each day. Some plants will tolerate partial shade but still need at least 3 hours of direct sun each day. Additionally, making pots mobile allows you to move them as the sunlight changes it's direction throughout the season. You can purchase bottom liners with wheels on them, or put your pots on a planter that can be moved as one unit.
If you do not have adequate natural light, you may consider lighting for the plants through an indoor system.
A container vegetable garden needs plenty of water and drainage; insuring the proper amount of water and air reach the roots is essential to successful growing. Feeling the soil an inch below the surface will tell if the plant is in need of water; drooping plants are a sign of dehydration and not just the need of a little water, plants should never be allowed to reach that point.
You should water only the soil, not the leaves, as the roots carry the water to the whole plant, the leaves cannot absorb it themselves; watering the leaves can cause bacteria, mold or other diseases to infest the leaves. Also take care not to splash the water up on the leaves which can transmit diseases.
A rule of thumb for container vegetable gardens: allow a minimum of 18 inches in diameter or width and 18 inches of depth for most plants; this will vary depending on the exact vegetable. For example, root crops will need twice the depth they are expected to reach at maturity.
One other way to grow vegetables indoors is with a mini indoor green house. There is a wide range of ways to do indoor greenhouse gardening. You can start with something small that might even fit on a windowsill like an indoor herb garden tray, or make your own by outfitting a simple set of bookshelves with a set of indoor grow lights. For the ultimate in indoor greenhouses, a full mini-greenhouse with an enclosure allows you to control the humidity and temperature a little better, and you can put it in out of the way places like the basement and still get great results.
Easy As Pie (Get It?)
Probably the easiest way to grow vegetables or herbs indoors is with a windowsill greenhouse. These are small plastic trays that often are used for starting seedlings indoors, but can be used to grow small herbs as well. They include a clear plastic cover over the top to help maintain the humidity level, which can be an issue when growing indoors, as the relative humidity indoors in the wintertime can approach the usual arid conditions of 20% or so often seen in desert climates.
By keeping your windowsill container adequately watered and putting it in reasonable lighting (many herbs don't need as much light as most vegetables) you'll have fresh herbs in short order. Next time you need a sprig of parsley or a few basil leaves, they will be at your fingertips.
A good example of extending your herb growing season is this: I clipped off a healthy cut of basil, about 8 inches long, before any cold weather damage had incurred. It was then placed in water to grow roots and planted in a jar on my windowsill. It gave us a small quantity of fresh basil during the winter. In the spring, I transplanted it into the back yard garden and it grew well. What a great way to keep the spirit of our garden going right on our windowsill!
Debbie Meyer Green Bags - Perfect for Fresh Veggie Storage
I recently picked up a box of Debbie's Green Bags on clearance at the grocery store as I have always wanted to try them, but didn't want to pay full price for the experiment. So glad I did! They work. We have a lot of trouble with our bananas turning brown quickly, so my experiment was with our bananas. The kept for days longer than normal and I was hooked. The bags also work great with herbs like parsley and cilantro. I use them for everything in the veggie drawer now.
A Unique Look at Recycling and Reusing Plants and Veggies
This little book has some amazing tips on how to take organic trash, replant parts of it to grow new plants right on your windowsill!
I have tried several of them and it has been fun to see what works and what needs to be tried again. In our school garden we tried several methods including celery, pineapple, and carrots. Great science experiments!