Winter storm, ready for spring - have those winter blahs set in and your dream of fresh greens from your summer garden seems so far away, consider growing indoors.
Not only do plants cleanse your household air (read about Greens That Clean) and improve the aesthetics of any indoor space, they can provide your family with a wealth of yummy, organic foods.
You can plant an Indoor garden and use your starter plants for an outdoor garden come spring. City dwellers, or those without a good gardening spot in the yard, may find growing indoors rewarding and useful.
Below is just a quick rundown on growing inside - there is a wealth of knowledge on the internet for anything you want to grow. There are also many Retailers who specialize and can help you get started growing inside. Check above for our local retailers. Please let them know we sent you!
Indoor Gardening 101
An indoor garden can take up as much or as little space as you are willing to give it. Growing plants of all kinds can be done on a windowsill or on a table.
Larger growers or the more dedicated may want to set up a an entire room dedicated for growing.
Plants need light to photosynthesize and need to photosynthesize to survive. Without adequate light a plant will grow tall and spindly.
Selecting a Grow Light
There are a lot of different grow lights out there and it can be confusing to figure out which type is best for what you are growing inside. The following run-down should bring some clarity.
Incandescent Lamps are inexpensive. While they work OK for growing houseplants, they are not ideal for an indoor garden.
Fluorescent Lights work best for growing herbs and other plants that don’t require a lot of light. They are not good for plants that are budding or flowering because they don’t put off enough light.
The new “Compact Fluorescent Systems”, however, are quite bright and efficient and in some cases might even be better than the fancier high intensity discharge (HID) lights.
There is more to a grow light than just the bulb.
Most seedlings require 14 to 16 hours of direct light to manufacture enough food to produce healthy stems and leaves. When growing seedlings under lights, you can use a combination of cool and warm fluorescents, or full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs.
Seedlings need a high intensity of light. The fluorescent bulbs should be placed very close to the plants—no more than three inches away from the foliage—and should be left on 12 to 14 hours per day.
Temperatures of 65-75° F are best for most plants. A variance of 10° F either way will probably be OK. Plants that are too hot will be small and weak. Plants grown at too-cold temperatures may have yellow leaves that fall off.
A lack of humidity in the house can be a challenge for indoor gardeners. Winter tends to be drier than summer, and if you run the heat in your house the problem is further compounded.
To increase humidity:
• Mist plants daily, or more often as needed. (Do not do this with hairy-leaved plants since the water hangs around longer and could cause disease.)• Place a tray of water near your garden (don’t put plants in the tray, this can lead to other problems). Fill the tray with lava rocks to increase surface area for evaporation.• Place plants close together to create a microenvironment with a higher relative humidity.• Run a humidifier (this might benefit your skin as well!).• Purchase a humidity controller, which can humidify or dehumidify depending on your needs.
Indoor gardens benefit from a good planting medium — Look for a mix that is specific to indoor plants. A good medium should remain loose and drain well, yet contain enough organic matter to hold nutrients and moisture. For added benefits use My Garden's Best Friend Organic Earthworm Castings in your mix and directly on top of your soil. You can also benefit from making tea out of our castings to use on your plants.
Instead of growing indoor plants in a soil mixture, you may want to try out hydroponics. Basically, this means gardening without soil. Soil holds nutrients and anchors plants roots. When growing hydroponically you provide the nutrients directly. Instead of being bound up in soil, the nutrients are readily available to the plants.
Some of the advantages of growing hydroponically include:
• Faster plant growth (up to 50% faster) since plants can easily access water and food.• Roots grow throughout the media without becoming root bound, so containers can be smaller.• Plants start in a disease-free medium and are less likely to become infected.• If plants do become sick, the disease is usually in one plant, not all of them.• Plants droop before they wilt, so you’ll know to water them before they are damaged. Don't forget that using a quality made Earthworm castings tea will add an extra boost of nutrients.