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The idea of growing your own fresh produce and lots of lovely flowers often brings to mind lots of space in the great outdoors. But urban dwellers today are proving that it is possible to grow a variety of fruits and vegetables, indoors, alongside your common houseplants.
In fact, the experts have suggested that as much as 60 percent of common crop plants can be grown indoors. I wouldn’t suggest trying to grow a crop of cornstalks indoors, but you can have great success with growing veggies such as tomatoes, peppers, salad greens, mushrooms, avocados, herbs, and citrus fruits indoors. Many flowering plants can be grown indoors as well.
Benefits and Limitations of Indoor Gardening
Plants are pretty. I have never heard anyone name an unattractive plant. Some invasive plants like wisteria and mimosa may be aggravating, but they are still beautiful. Plants bring part of the natural world inside your home adding to furnishings and decor.
Indoor gardening provides urban dwellers the opportunity to live a greener, more earth-friendly lifestyle without having large backyards, or any yard at all. Plants growing indoors add oxygen to the air. This makes for cleaner air for you and your loved ones.
Some plants such as philodendron, spider plants, and pothos absorb heavy metal toxins from the air, improving the air quality of your home. I like the fact that with indoor gardening, I have a convenient, local source of produce.
Fruits and vegetables are important to a healthy diet, and I know my indoor-grown veggies are free from having been sprayed with chemical pesticides. Fragrant herbs for gourmet cooking are at my fingertips.
By using indoor gardening, I have eliminated many of the pests and parasites they would be vulnerable to in the great outdoors. I also don’t have to worry about pests that burrow and attack my plant’s roots underground. And I don’t worry about creatures nibbling on my fruit.
By growing my plants and herbs indoors, I can control the temperature and environment. There is no need to worry about dragging heavy pots indoors before the first freeze of the season. Some of my herbs would die in an overly cold environment.
By gardening indoors, I can protect my plants from wind, flash flooding, and too much scorching sunlight. Indoor gardening is a good way to start practicing for a larger garden for those with lots of space. It allows you to learn the aspects of gardening up close and in a controlled setting.
Once successful, the indoor gardener can better tackle a large, outdoor garden. One important thing you must watch out for when gardening indoors: soil that is in containers dries out faster than the soil outdoors.
You will need to water them more frequently. Indoor heating can be a problem for plants. Most of them require around 50 percent humidity for optimal health. Home heating sources dry out the air. I fill trays with pebbles and water near my indoor plants in the winter. You can also use a humidifier. Of course, if you dream of canning and preserving an abundance of produce, this will not be true for indoor gardening.
Factors to Consider with Indoor Gardening
In addition to frequent watering, you will need to feed your plants regularly with a fertilizer such as MiracleGro. I dust my indoor plants right along with the furniture, and I turn them occasionally to keep them from becoming bent, as they tend to lean toward the sunlight.
Since your indoor plants probably won’t get an optimal amount of light and moisture, watch out for developing mold on the soil surface. Fungus and bacterial infections can also attack the leaves. Not only can this kill the plant but mold spores and pollutants can also harm the air quality in your home. Sit the plant under your shower and wash it off if you see bugs swarming. Reduce watering if you notice brown or yellow spots appearing on the leaves.
For those of us who like to travel, we wouldn’t leave our pets at home alone for a week, but your indoor plants should be fine when left that long. For extended vacations, you will need a friend or neighbor to check on your plants. Other options include creating a terrarium atmosphere by tenting them in plastic or purchasing a drip watering system that comes with a timer.
Gathering Supplies for your Indoor Garden
Be sure to purchase containers that are large enough for a root system for your indoor gardening. Herbs can be grown in smaller containers. Make sure all containers have holes for proper drainage. Here is a list of some of the tools I have found useful and their purpose.
1. Hand fork – helps to break up the soil for better fertilizing
2. Pruner – cuts stems and light branches to help keep plants from growing leggy.
3. Transplanter – for planting bulbs and transplanting into different pots.
4. Label maker – helps keep indoor plants, supplies, and seed packets organized.
5. Indoor watering can – to keep plants hydrated.
6. Self-watering pots – these are great for taking the guesswork out of watering indoor plants.
7. Plant stands – these aren’t absolutely necessary, but they can help you maximize your space. I like the ladder-type plant stands.
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A Note about Another Indoor Growing Method
Hydroponics is another method you can try for indoor gardening. Hydroponics is the cultivation of growing plants in liquid nutrients rather than soil. This method is preferred for busy on-the-go people who don’t like getting their hands dirty.
There are several good hydroponic systems that you can buy that won’t compromise the quality of your indoor garden. These systems let you nurture seeds and watch them grow. Growing plants in a hydroponic system is clean, fast, and easy way.
It is a trendy way for urban dwellers to have all the advantages that indoor gardening can provide. Hydroponic systems grow healthy plants with good yields of produce. As cities become more popular, hydroponic gardening could well be the wave of the future.