Are you curious about starting to grow your own food indoors, but fear you’ll fail because of lack of knowledge? Not to worry! These beginner friendly indoor gardening tips will help you overcome that fear and get started towards creating a thriving small space garden!
I love growing outdoors, but when we moved to Alaska, the 100 day garden season made growing anything outdoors nearly impossible, so I had to opt for bringing the garden indoors! It was a learning curve, because instead of tons of space and ideal lighting, I found my garden space cramped with seedlings that barely survived!
I want to help you avoid these problems and thrive indoors, so I have created this comprehensive guide of 15 of the indoor gardening tips I wish I knew before starting my indoor garden!
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Indoor Gardening Tips for Beginners
Deciding to start a garden indoors is so exciting! The idea of all the things you can grow and the ideas that you get while perusing Pinterest boards is truly inspiring. But, as with anything else in life, there are so many things to learn and be aware of before you start. The following tips for beginners can help you get started and avoid common mistakes!
1. Optimize your Light Source.
Every living thing on earth needs light to survive, and when you decide to bring plants into your home, you have to be very intentional about locating those plants in a space that has enough light!
If you are in a space with lots of natural light with a south-facing window and large glass paned doors, you may be able to position your indoor garden near the light sources. Additionally, using mirrors to reflect the light and large white boards can be a way to maximize this light and minimize the need to make purchases for your indoor garden.
The problem with using windows as your only source of light, is often it is not intense enough for flowering and fruiting plants especially in the winter months when there is not much light due to shorter days. These plants often need full sun or 6-8 hours of direct sunlight to thrive! So the use of grow lights is often not something you can avoid!
Choosing a grow light with a timer can also make caring for your plants easier as you can set the timer and not have to worry about optimizing light. One less task to worry about in your garden! YAY!!!
2. Choose the right plants
The next tip that can really increase your chances of success in your indoor vegetable garden is to choose the right plants.
When choosing plants for your indoor vegetable garden you want to think first of plants that are low maintenance. Herbs and leafy greens are great low maintenance options that thrive in artificial lights! In fact an indoor herb garden or salad greens garden both pack a powerful punch as they are a great way to save money at the grocery store!
In addition to choosing low maintenance plants that thrive in low light conditions, also consider choosing low profile plants. The good news is if you are growing your indoor garden plants from seeds you can choose plants that are determinate or bush varieties. These plants will often maintain a much smaller footprint for indoor gardeners.
3. Choose the right containers with Proper drainage
One thing that is critical for your indoor plants is to select proper containers for growing. You will want to choose a planter that is large enough for your plant to grow in, but small enough to be easily moved around your home and not take up too much space.
Additionally, you want to make sure that the container has proper drainage holes to prevent root rot and other issues. If you find a container that doesn’t have holes, drill some in yourself or place small rocks at the bottom to help with drainage.
4. Fertilize regularly
In my first garden, it took me nearly losing my young seedlings to realize I had missed MONTHS of fertilizing! Giving your plants the proper nutrition is going to help them thrive! There are tons of options out there, both organic fertilizers and synthetic ones that make great options!
I will caution you against using fish fertilizer indoors! While it is an amazing fertilizer, it stinks…. Bad!! Fox farms Grow big is one of my favorite fertilizers, and I like to use it in conjunction with Organic Rev which helps boost plant roots growth and health for healthy plants!
Another option for fertilizing your vegetables is with the use of slow-release fertilizers. Using a balanced slow-release fertilizer is the easiest way to ensure your plants get the essential nutrients it needs.
When fertilizing your veggies, make sure to read the instructions and follow the recommended feeding schedules. Indoor plants are still susceptible to fertilizer burn if you give them too much of a good thing!
5. Up-potting as necessary
One important indoor gardening tip is to regularly monitor your plants for signs of being root bound. Root binding occurs when the roots of a plant become entangled and wrap around inside the pot, usually due to the pot being too small to accommodate the growing plant. This can have detrimental effects on the health and growth of many indoor plants. To ensure optimal growth and development, it is crucial to promptly repot your plants in larger pots as needed, providing them with ample room to spread their roots and thrive. By practicing this simple yet vital step, you can help your edible plants flourish and achieve their full potential!
6. Consider Hydroponics
My favorite way to grow fresh produce indoors is using hydroponics! Hydroponics is the practice of growing plants using only water and nutrients without soil. It is a great option for small space gardening, as it takes up very little room and allows you to grow year-round! Plus, it eliminates the mess and hassle of dealing with soil.
If you are new to indoor gardening, starting with a hydroponic system may seem intimidating, but trust me, it isn’t! especially if you consider a hydroponic system like the Aerogarden! With this system, failure is near impossible! It prompts you to water and feed your plants. You can grow a variety of different plants too! I’ve grown eggplant, peppers, and dandelion greens to name a few!
7. Protect plants from pests.
Pests can wreak havoc on an outdoor garden, but the damage on an indoor garden seems so much worst! So, it is important to take proper precautions to protect your plants from pests.
First, make sure that you are not bringing in any pests when purchasing new plants. Inspect them thoroughly before bringing them into your home. Additionally, regularly check your plants for signs of pest infestations and address them quickly.
Using natural remedies like neem oil or insecticidal can effectively ward off infestations without harming your plants.
8. Maintain airflow.
Mold and fungus can be annoying problems we see in indoor gardens where the air can be stale! Increasing and maintaining good airflow can help mitigate these problems before they start!
To increase airflow simply add a small table fan to your growing area . This can help circulate the air and prevent any stagnant areas where mold and fungus can develop. Alternatively, you can also open windows or use a dehumidifier to regulate humidity levels in your indoor garden.
9. Water adequately.
When it comes to plant success, sunlight, water, and nutrients are the vital elements! So, understanding your plants’ water requirements is crucial for the health of your vegetables. Interestingly, excessive watering can be an initial issue in vegetable gardens!
To ensure your plants thrive, it’s important to assess the soil moisture before watering. Don’t wait until your plants start drooping from lack of water before giving them water. Unlike houseplants, fruiting vegetable plants tend to shed their leaves at the slightest sign of stress! Additionally, stressed plants are more susceptible to pests!
Using self-watering pots and bottom watering are great ways to ensure your plants receive the right amount of water without overwatering.
Always remember, a balanced approach to watering and keeping your plants stress-free will result in healthier and more bountiful results!
10. Grow vertically.
One of the biggest issues with growing indoors is limited space! Gardening takes space, expecially if you are growing in pots! So consider growing up, literally! Vertical growing is an excellent way to increase space and the amount of fresh veggies are you able to grow!
Some options for growing vertically include:
- Grow towers: These are vertical planters that allow you to grow multiple plants in a small space.
- Hanging baskets: Utilize hanging baskets and wall-mounted planters to add more growing space.
- Trellises: Train vining plants to grow on trellises, saving valuable floor space.
Growing vertically not only maximizes your growing potential but also adds an interesting visual element to your indoor environment.
11. Harvest and Prune Regularly
Harvesting your vegetables regularly not only ensures a continuous supply of fresh produce, but also promotes plant growth and prevents overcrowding. Overcrowding can lead to competition for resources and inhibit the growth of your plants.
Make sure to harvest your vegetables when they are ripe and prune any dead or damaged leaves to keep your plants healthy and productive.
Remember, regularly maintaining your indoor garden will result in a more enjoyable and successful gardening experience!
12. Control humidity
Humidity can be a major factor in the health and growth of your indoor plants. Some plants prefer high humidity, while others thrive in drier conditions. It’s important to determine the specific needs of your plants and adjust humidity levels accordingly.
Using a humidifier or misting your plants can increase humidity, while using a dehumidifier can lower it. Don’t forget to regularly check moisture levels and adjust as needed.
Maintaining the right humidity levels will not only promote healthy growth but also prevent issues like mold and fungal disease.
13. Consider growing scraps
One easy way to grow food indoors without much additional purchasing and to truly see what you can do, is to try to grow scraps! The easiest is growing green onions! By simply trimming off the bottom 2-3 inches of the green onion and placing this in water you can easily grow food indoors!
This can also be done with things like , celery bottoms, lettuce hearts and even carrot tops! It is a great way to not only reduce food waste but also provide yourself with fresh produce year-round. And it’s always fun to watch something grow from what would normally be thrown away.
Temperature inside the house can fluctuate, which can affect the growth of your indoor garden. To ensure optimal growing conditions, it’s important to monitor and maintain a consistent temperature.
Most vegetables thrive in temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C). Using a thermometer can help you keep track of the temperature and make any necessary adjustments.
In addition, if your indoor garden is near a heater or air conditioning unit, make sure to monitor the temperature closely and adjust accordingly. This will help prevent any sudden changes that could harm your plants.
Maintaining a consistent and ideal temperature is key to a successful indoor garden. So, be mindful of any potential fluctuations and take proactive measures to keep your plants happy and healthy.
15. Be patient, Observe, and Have Fun
The last tip is by far the most important in my book! It’s easy to get paralyzed with a need to be perfect in the garden. But gardening is a journey and an adventure! Not everything will go as planned and that’s okay! a. Understanding plant growth cycles
Be patient and observe your plants, paying attention to any changes or issues. Gardening is a learning process, so have fun experimenting and trying new things.
Enjoy the small victories like harvesting your first ripe tomato or successfully growing herbs for the first time. Remember to celebrate your successes and learn from any setbacks.