The snow is falling and you crave some fresh veggies, so off to the supermarket you go. Did you ever think about growing your own? There are varieties of vegetables that can successfully be grown indoors.
When embarking on an indoor garden project, it is best to begin with vegetable varieties that produce in small spaces. Lettuce, spinach, many herbs and endive do very well indoors. It is possible to grow green peppers, beans, cherry tomatoes and miniature eggplants.
Don’t waste time trying to grow corn, melons, broccoli or cabbage. Chances are they will not do well.
When selecting vegetables to grow, check with the larger seed companies. More and more dwarf varieties of fruits and vegetables are being developed. Dwarf varieties don’t take as much time or space to grow.
It is important to choose the proper pot for indoor gardening. Pots should have adequate drainage and be large enough to host adult plants as well as seedlings. Pot size varies depending on the type of vegetable you are planting. Crops such as herbs and salad greens don’t need as much root space as do other plants such as cherry tomatoes.
It is best to avoid clay pots because they tend to dry out faster than ceramic, wooden, metal or plastic containers.
The location of the indoor garden is important. Choose a spot that gets as much direct sunlight as possible. While some plants tolerate partial shade, most need as much sunlight as possible so make sure the garden gets at least six hours of sunlight a day.
If you don’t have sunny windowsills, you may have to buy grow lights to have a successful garden. There are many different types of lights available in department and hardware stores, as well as online.
Gardeners have their favorite soil recipes for indoor planting. It is important to use a soil mixture that will drain well. You can make a good plant-growing medium by mixing equal amounts of silica, sand, perlite and mulch. Another recipe is to use equal parts of garden soil, coarse sand and compost OR peat moss. The Square Foot Gardening recipe for soil is also a very good option.
When planting, follow directions on the seed packets.
Keep in mind that indoor gardens take regular watering. Do not allow the soil to become too dry. Irregular watering can cause vegetables to have a bitter taste. Watering globes, which are available in most garden and hardware stores, help keep the soil moist.
A good fertilizer is a vital part of the recipe to successful indoor gardening. Choose a good organic fertilizer and follow product directions. Add a little compost can boost growth. Seaweed meal is good to use because it releases nutrients slowly, minimizing the need for frequent applications.
The good news about indoor gardening is that there should be fewer pests to feed on your plants. Whiteflies can tend to be a problem, but they are easily caught with the aid of sticky traps that are available in garden stores. Mealy bugs can be eliminated by rubbing them with a cotton ball saturated with rubbing alcohol. Spider mites are one of the most common pests. You can rid your plants of spider mites by spraying the plant growth with water. If that doesn’t work, try mixing a capful of dish detergent with the water.
Want to learn more about growing herbs and vegetables indoors?
Organic Gardening magazine features this page with the top 10 herbs to grow indoors.
It also offers this article about growing plants from vegetable scraps indoors.
The University of Missouri Extension has this PDF guide to learn more about whitefly infestations and how to deal with them.