When it comes to starting an indoor vegetable garden, you will need to start the plants from seeds or from already established seedlings. You will need to use the right type of indoor gardening system and cater for the needs of the vegetables. You can also use indoor vegetable garden kits. Some such as Aerogarden will automatically water, feed and provide for the light needs of your vegetables.
Indoor Vegetable Garden – Starting Seeds Indoors
There are different ways to starting seeds indoors. For a more fulfilling experience, many indoor gardeners prefer to start their plants from seeds rather than acquiring an already established plant. There are also plants that are very tough to start from seeds, but plants such as alpine strawberry, eggplant, tomatoes, and several herbs can easily be started from herbs. When growing fruit plants such as tomatoes, you need to make sure the plant is ready to harvest before winter.
What To Grow And When To Start Them
Keeping in mind plants need to be ready for harvest before winter, it is important to start most plants that need harvesting in early spring. However, each plant is different and as such, each has an optimal time when you should start them. You can check the instruction that comes with the seeds. For tiny seeds, you should sow them in February. While for vegetables such as pepper, eggplant, tomato you should start them in early spring.
Acquiring The Seeds
It is obvious you need seeds to start the plant. But acquiring the best seeds is important. The seeds need to be viable. You can visit a local garden center, a supply store or you can get them through the mail. When it comes to seeds, there are hybrids designed to be more effective or give you a particular strain. Hybrid seeds are more expensive than regular seeds, so are organic seeds.
If the seeds came in packets from name brands, there will be information about the seeds, when to sow them and you can find out the percentage of seeds that are viable. You can also acquire seeds from fellow growers. When getting sees do not get more than you need as less and less of these seeds will be viable as time passes.
Getting The Right Container For Your Seedlings
It is advisable to get individual containers for each seedling. This will prevent the roots from tangling while the seeds germinate. Untangling the roots when two seedlings are started in the same container can harm the seedlings. The exception to this rule is leeks and onions.
One of the best ways to start seeds is to use cell flats. With cell flats, you can start several seedlings with one container. A cell flat is separated into many compartments called cells. Each seedling can germinate in each individual cell. You can always make containers with everyday items such as soda bottles. Just cut it into two and use the bottom part as a planter. Just remember to sterilize the container before use.
Acquiring A Seed Starting Mix
Selecting the right starting mix is very important as the medium will either enable the seeds to germinate properly and the seedlings to be well-established before transplanting. It is best to use a soil-less mix, as soil can be quite heavy in a container. Perlite is a popular choice for many gardeners. You can get starter plugs; these are particularly designed for starting plants.
Sowing The Seeds
If you are using perlite, you will need to mix the perlite and warm water in a plastic bag before you use it.
When you use fresh seeds, you can sow one seed in one container or according to the instructions that come with the seeds. You should sow the seeds to a depth of four times the width of the seed. If however, you are using old seeds from the previous sowing season, you should sow about 3 times as many seeds as you would with fresh seeds. This is because the chances of germination would have reduces. After the seeds have germinated, you can prune out the extras with pruners or knives.
Also, it is best when the starting mix is constantly wet in order for the seeds to germinate.
Indoor Vegetable Garden Light Needs
The light need of the plant is also important depending on the plant. Many seeds need darkness to germinate, while some need some light to germinate. A thin layer of vermiculite or perlite would allow some lights to reach the seed as it germinates. It is best to use artificial lighting as the sun can kill the seeds and seedlings. You can use fluorescent lights. After the seed has germinated, 12 to 15 hours of light should be sufficient for healthy early development.
With the seeds need complete darkness to germinate, you need to use dark containers and cover the containers with layers of dark paper or plastic.
Watering The Seedling
The grow medium has to be wet to trigger germination. When watering the seeds, do not pour the water onto the seeds, as this will push them deep into the potting mix. You can use a spray bottle to gently wet the potting mix.
Seeds do not need fertilization to germinate. But once the seeds have germinated and turned into seedlings, you can feed them with liquid fertilizers. A mix of 3 parts water and 1 part general-purpose fertilizer should do. The seedlings can be feed with the fertilizer mix once a week and pure water six times a week.
Seeds need warmth to germinate. A wonderful place for your sown seeds in the top of the fridge or near a furnace although not close enough to cook the seeds. Also direct sun will likely cook and kill your seeds. The right temperature for your seeds is about 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit can kill the seed before it germinates.
A heating mat is a good investment for your seeds. They will keep your seeds warm while not killing them.
Choosing The Right Indoor Vegetable Gardening System
There are basically two types of indoor gardening systems you can pick once your seeds have germinated. There are container gardening system and hydroponic system. Sub-irrigation is also an alternative method of growing plants indoor. Both of these systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Hydroponic systems are much more costly to start and require a level of expertise. Plants need nutrient-rich liquid solution in a hydroponic garden. Container gardening is much easier to start, require less expertise and the pricing cost is much less. The advantages of hydroponic gardening include larger yield, shorter growing time and a less likelihood of diseases and pests. We will be focusing on container gardening, which means growing your plants in a pot or container.
Container Needed For The Plants
Once your seedlings are ready for transplanting, they need to grow in a pot of adequate size. Depending on your plant size, large plants require large pots while small plants require small pots.
You can also choose from plastic pots, clay pots, wooden pots, and smart pots. Although, plastic pots are the least costly, terra cotta (clay) pots and smart pots are best for your plants. These allow your plant’s roots to have more access to air and these pots drain much better.
If you use wooden pots, make sure the pots are not treated with chemicals harmful to your plants. Plastic pots come in many colors and are affordable.
Potting Mix To Use In Your Indoor Vegetable Garden
Many plants have potting mixes made specifically for the plants. For example, a cactus mix is made for plants that grow well in a fast draining potting mix. If you do not want to acquire potting mix specifically designed for the plants, you plan to grow; you can mix your own mix. This is cheaper.
An equal portion of peat moss, potting soil and clean soil is great for most plants. You can also get perlite mix for your plants. When transplanting your seedlings, make sure they are plants to the same depth as they were at in their starting mix.
Indoor Vegetable Garden – Caring For Your Plants
Caring for your plants is not a 24 hours job, but that does not mean you should not keep an eye on them. For a successful indoor vegetable garden, you need to make sure the plants are regularly watered. This means you should check the potting mix regularly and water the plants whenever the mix is dry.
Also, it is necessary to check for pests, weeds, and diseases. Although indoor vegetable gardens are less prone to diseases, weeds, and pests, they still do occur.
Feeding your plant is also very important. Most vegetables will grow well if you feed them once a month. It is best to follow the instructions that come with the fertilizer.
The lighting and temperature needs of vegetables vary depending on the plant. With that said, a temperature of 15 °C to 25 °C (60 °F to 80 °F) is good for most plants. With indoor gardening, you will likely need to provide artificial lighting for your garden. Most potted plants will grow well.
Using An Indoor Vegetable Garden Kit
One of the easiest ways to start an indoor vegetable garden is through using indoor vegetable garden kit. These kits simplify your complete growing experience from seeds to harvesting. There is no need to worry about getting the right potting mix, the right amount of light, nutrients and so on for your plant. The indoor garden kits come with all of these. Getting an indoor vegetable garden kit is a great way to start an indoor garden regardless of whether or not you have the time or expertise. Here are 2 great indoor vegetable gardening kits to consider.
Aerogarden – Indoor Vegetable Garden Kit
The Aerogarden by Aerogrow is a very popular indoor vegetable garden kit. It does the entire job for you. It self-waters the garden; this means you do not have to do this yourself. Also, the grow light that is used by Aerogarden is automated so you will not need to remember to switch them off or not. You also do not need to worry about fertilization since that is also automated. This kit takes care of the plants need so you would not have to. The Aerogarden can help you to grow herbs such as cilantro, parsley, and many other, you can also grow vegetables such as tomatoes, micro greens, and others.
You will need to change the grow lights twice a year.
2-Tier Sunlite® Garden – Indoor Vegetable Garden Kit
The 2-Tier SunLite® Garden by Gardener’s Supply Company is a great indoor vegetable garden kit to consider when you do not have much space or access to sunlight. It comes with T-5 bulbs. These allow your plants to get the full spectrum of light needed for optimum growth and fruition. Also, it uses very little energy. The T-5 bulbs can be used for 10,000 hours before you need to change them. That is over 800 days of growth considering the plants are exposed to the optimum 12 hours of light a day.
You can also adjust the height of the lights. It is best to have the lights 3 inches away from the plants.
There is also the 3-Tier SunLite® Garden by Gardener’s Supply Company for more plants.
DIY Indoor Vegetable Gardening Kits
There are some of us, who do not like to spend much money on brand name gardening kits. If you are as such, you can always improvise with objects found in the home such as old cans, clayey pots, toolbox kits, and mason jars.
Mason Jar Kits
The first DIY kit we will talk about is the Mason jar kits. These are both very effective and stylish since you cannot make drainages holes into the mason jars, you will need to fill the bottom of the mason jars. Because there are no drainage holes in the Mason jar, you have to be careful not to overwater the vegetables and herbs you grow in these jars. You also need to ensure that you provide the vegetables with enough light, fertilization, and warmth.
Another great idea for an indoor vegetable garden kit is a toolbox kit. They are large and spacious enough for growing vegetable indoors. You will need to remember to make adequate drainage holes on the bottom of the toolbox. This will allow your garden to drain nicely. The best part of a toolbox kit is that the toolbox will fit perfectly on your windowsill.