Indoor vegetable gardening is another alternative to outdoor gardening especially if you live in an apartment or condo unit where there is little space to grow vegetables.
For some home
dwellers, especially those who live in a gated community, your home association does not permit growing vegetables outside. Depending where you live, many cities have bylaws restricting where home owners may grow vegetables. A fenced backyard maybe okay, but the front of your house facing the street isn't, even if you grow vegetables in containers. These are some of the reasons many gardeners choose indoor vegetable gardening as a solution to these problems.
Although it's quite possible to grow a successful harvest of vegetable plants indoors, we should keep in mind all life (except people and pets) survive and flourish in Mother Nature's great outdoors. Therefore, we have to give some thought to what plants will grow successfully in an indoor environment. The list of choices is not large, but sufficient to satisfy most gardening enthusiasts.
Here is my suggestion for beginner gardeners who are trying indoor vegetable gardening for the first time. Once you have experience and success with the following list, you can try more difficult vegetables that can be successfully grown indoors. They do need more attention and tender loving care than my first suggestion group, but if you're adventurous, then jump right in and give them a try. I'll include these vegetable plants after my first suggestion group.
Here is my first group of easiest plants to grow indoors:
Lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard and most herbs.
The next group are root crops that are a little more difficult than the first group of leafy crops and herbs, but will give you a successful crop come harvest time.
These vegetables include carrot, beet, and radish.
The last and most difficult group is the fruit vegetables.
These vegetables include small or miniature tomatoes, and thin-walled peppers.
Unlike growing vegetables outdoors, indoor vegetable gardening requires a great deal of thought to lighting conditions, room temperature, humidity, the right amount of plant watering, proper nutrition, and fertile soil.
The most difficult of these requirements to control is sufficient light which is needed for the plant to survive and grow. Generally speaking, the more light a vegetable plant receives, the more food is produced for the plant to grow.
We don't give much thought to light variation in each area of our home as long as it is bright enough for us to go about our business. However, for plants the amount of light is critical and extra care should be taken on your part to provide sufficient light for the plant of your choice. It is also important to consider if your location has enough room for you and your plants. And, it is also worth remembering that the penetration of sunlight inside your home changes with each season.
During summer months, an eastern window exposure is the best location for your vegetable plants, because they will receive the most hours of sunlight from sunrise to midday. And, because of the sharp angle of the summer sun, an eastern room is cooler due to less radiant energy absorbed by your home resulting in less water evaporation from your plants.
During winter months, a southern window exposure provides the best lighting condition for indoor vegetable gardening. During these months the sun is low in the sky and it will shine in your room for most of the daylight hours.
North facing windows receive the least amount of sunlight and only should be considered for the exceptional few plants that tolerate a lot of shade.
If you must use a northern exposure window for any plant that requires lots of sunlight, grow lights will be required.
Other things to remember about sunlight entering your home.
The amount of sunlight may be reduced by trees growing outside your window, and the same holds true for building structure, or an overhanging house eve. If you have curtains or blinds on your windows (and most of us do), they also can prevent sufficient sunlight from entering the room. A consideration in such a case will be to install grow lights.
Indoor Vegetable Gardening Tip:
Indoor vegetable gardening comes with many an "I didn't know that!" And, that could be the reason why so many indoor vegetable gardening enthusiasts can't figure out what they're doing wrong. Try as they might, their
plants just seem to fade away and die.
We give little thought to the temperature inside our home when it comes to growing plants. Yet, it is as critical as is light for their survival.
I'm sure most of us have heard of photosynthesis, yet few if any of us heard of respiration. The process of these two terms acting on your vegetable plants is necessary for plant survival. And, this is especially true when it comes to indoor vegetable gardening.
Builds sugars and starch for your plants.
Breaks down starch and sugar that your plant needs to grow as well as carry on maintenance to keep your plant healthy and strong.
Some of you may say, "So, what's that got to do with growing plants indoors?"
Well... It's got to do with the temperature and light entering your home.
As your home temperature goes up, so does plant respiration. If light entering your home is reduced, so is photosynthesis. And, that means plant respiration will begin to break down what little sugars are made leaving none for plant growth. If this cycle is allowed to continue without correction, eventually your plant will die.
What to do if this happens:
Increase photosynthesis by raising light levels. This increases the production of nutrients and sugars.
Lower respiration by lowering the temperature in your home. This slows down the break down process of sugar and nutrients giving the plant more time to develop new tissues and grow.
Now that we know about light and temperature and how they affect your plants growth, we should be especially mindful about air conditioner settings as well as winter heat settings.
An ideal setting would be daytime temperature between 70F-(21C) to 80F-(26C) and night time temperature between 65F-(18C) to 70F-(21 C).
As you may have learned so far, indoor vegetable gardening does come with certain problems not associated with outdoor gardening. And, lack of humidity to keep your plants healthy is another problem that must be solved to keep your plants healthy.
Most homes have a relative humidity between 10 to 20 percent which is not enough to keep your plants healthy. An ideal range to aim for is 50 percent or higher. Lower than this will cause rapid transpiration and more water is lost from the plants leaves.
How you can help your plants get more humidity.
Use a mist bottle to spray the leaves of your plants on a regular basis.
Indoor Vegetable Tip:
Don't rely solely on misting your plants leaves to give the plant sufficient humidity it needs. The fact is, you would need to mist every few minutes throughout the day and night to make a difference in the humidity around your plants.
Here is another thought to keep in mind. If your plant has hairy leaves (and some do), do not mist because water will evaporate much slower from the leaves increasing the chance of leaf disease spores to grow.
Watering plants is probably the most familiar to us when it comes to indoor vegetable gardening.
We all know plants need water and we seem to be ok with looking after the plants watering needs. Or do we?
Need more water than smaller plants. Keep in mind that if your plant container is small your plant will need to be watered more frequently.
Some plant soils do not retain as much moisture as other soils. If this is the case with your plant soil, you will have to increase the frequency of watering.
Light intensity will increase water evaporation and will require increased frequency of plant watering.
Fluorine and Chlorine:
In most cities and towns today, our water will usually contain fluorine and chlorine which can affect some plants. If this is the type of water you use on your plants, let it stand in a container for a few days so that some of the fluorine and chlorine can be released before you use it to water your plants.
Over time, salt released from fertilizer will accumulate in any saucer or plate your plant container is sitting in. Be careful that access water does not build up and enter your plant container. If this happens plant roots will get waterlogged and high levels of salt in the water can cause damage to plant roots. To solve this problem, use a saucer deep enough so you can add pebbles or pottery shards that will be higher than the level of any access water. Also, be sure to remove any access water build-up in the saucer on a regular basis.
When to water your plants and when not:
I find the best method is using your finger. Push your finger into the soil about and inch down. If the soil is still moist you need not water. When you continue with this routine, pay attention to how your plant leaves look. Overtime you can easily tell when your plant is calling out to you for a drink.
One of the most common ways to kill your plants is by over-watering. So, before you water do the finger test. Your plants will thank you.
Know your plants required light level and either place your plants in a room that gets the most light and use grow lights if necessary. Fruit plants such as tomatoes and peppers require at least 8 to 10 hours of sunlight when grown inside your home. Time and experience will be your best teacher to perfect the ideal growing environment for these vegetable plants.
High humidity and moderate temperatures:
Plants grow best in high humidity and moderate temperatures, and this type of environment is usually not found in most homes. Use a humidifier or several water containers filled with water to correct this problem. For best results, create a micro-environment for your plants by clumping them together.
Plants tend to dry out faster inside your home, so be sure you water regularly. Also, do not give in to the tendency to over-water. Use the finger test as discussed earlier. And, don't let the plant roots get waterlogged while they are sitting in a saucer.
I know indoor vegetable gardening seems to be a lot of work, but after your initial setup and a little tender loving care, you will find yourself becoming more efficient at caring for your plants, and in no time at all, you'll discover it really doesn't take all that much time on your part to keep your vegetable plants healthy and strong.
Thank you for your interest in this article on indoor vegetable gardening.
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