Indoor Gardening for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know
Whether the outside temperature is starting to drop, or you simply don’t have a ton of outdoor space, you might be considering an indoor garden. Of course, you also might have some questions. Fortunately, this guide on indoor gardening for beginners is ready to help.
If you’re wondering how to start an indoor garden or what you can grow in an indoor garden, you’re in luck. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about indoor gardening so you can enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables throughout the year!
What Is an Indoor Garden?
If you live in the city and don’t have a ton of backyard space, or you live in an area that experiences cold and snowy winters, you might think enjoying fresh fruits and vegetables from a garden is impossible. But that’s not the case when you keep an indoor garden!
The great thing about indoor gardens is that they require a lot of the same things as an outdoor garden. So if you’ve had success growing plants in your outdoor garden, you should find it pretty simple to transition to an indoor garden.
But even if you’ve never kept an outdoor garden before, you can still have success with indoor gardening. Even better, the same incredible health and environmental benefits you enjoy when you have an outdoor garden transfer to maintaining an indoor garden!
How to Start an Indoor Garden
You don’t have to be a master gardener with the best green thumb in the world to have an indoor garden. Like other hobbies, it simply takes time and practice to learn what does and doesn’t work for your indoor garden.
When you’re ready to learn how to start an indoor garden, follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll be growing your own fruit and vegetable plants with success in no time at all!
1. What to Grow in an Indoor Garden
One of the most important parts of indoor gardening for beginners is picking out the right things to grow. As you’re planning your indoor garden, keep these questions in mind:
- How much space do I have for an indoor garden?
- Which fruits and vegetables do I often use when preparing meals?
- Will I have to use grow lights?
Answering these questions will give you a good idea of what you can grow in your indoor garden. However, you still have to keep the needs of different plants in mind.
For example, while you might want to grow bell peppers because you cook with them so much, you’d need to make sure this sun-loving plant gets enough light. In a home that gets a lot of shade, that might mean you’d have to install some grow lights.
The Best Plants for an Indoor Garden
If you have absolutely no idea what to plant in your inside garden, check out this list of the best vegetables to grow indoors. There are so many awesome ideas on that list, you should have no problems choosing several different plants to grow.
Vegetables and Fruits
Although growing certain vegetables in an indoor garden can be tricky, you do have plenty of options available. Since getting enough natural light is a challenge for indoor gardens, you might want to consider growing a few of these shade-loving vegetables.
Plus, even though it seems crazy, there are even some fruit trees you can easily grow indoors.
If patience isn’t something you’re known for, microgreens are the perfect plant for your indoor garden. These small plants are nutritional powerhouses that are packed with flavor and offer up to 40 times the vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients as their mature counterparts.
Best of all, many microgreens can be harvested just 10 days after planting the seeds!
There’s a reason why so many people keep an herb garden on the windowsill in their kitchen. Not only are herbs incredibly easy to grow inside, but it’s also so nice to be able to toss some fresh ones right into whatever you’re cooking.
Some of the best herbs to grow in an indoor garden are:
2. Choose Between a Soil-Based or Hydroponic Garden
At one time, if you wanted to grow a garden inside, your only option was using pots filled with soil. However, today you have another choice: hydroponic gardens.
In a hydroponic garden, the plants grow directly in water and you occasionally add liquid fertilizer to give them the necessary nutrients they typically get from soil.
Deciding between a hydroponic garden or soil-based pots comes down to a lot of factors, including the growing space you have available, how much money you’re interested in investing in your indoor garden, and how comfortable you are with learning the correct mixture of nutrients to put in the water.
While most hydroponic gardens will have a higher price tag than pots with soil, they often come with artificial lighting so you can grow a lot of different plants pretty much anywhere in your house.
3. Figure Out Your Indoor Garden Location
Once you know what you’re going to plant and how you’re going to plant it, you need to figure out where you want to keep your indoor garden. Typically, the best place in your house for your garden is the spot that gets the best light.
If you have northern-facing windows, your plants should have no problems sitting right next to the windows since the light and warmth won’t be too intense to harm them. On the other hand, western-facing windows might get too hot, so you should consider keeping your plants about 2 or 3 feet away from the window.
You also want to keep an eye on temperatures around your garden. Try to avoid placing your plants in spots where they could get damaged from drafts of extremely hot or cold air.
4. Pick the Right Containers
If you’re going with a soil-based indoor garden, you’re going to need pots for your plants. The pots should be large enough for the plant’s roots to have room to grow.
Greens like lettuce and spinach can grow in almost any size pot. Smaller varieties of peppers and tomatoes will need a pot that’s at least 1 or 2 gallons deep, and larger varieties will require a 3- to 5-gallon pot.
Your pots should also have drainage holes in the bottom to prevent the soil from becoming too wet. Don’t forget to place your pots on trays or saucers so the excess water that drains out doesn’t damage your floors or make a mess on your countertops!
If you tend to have problems remembering to water your plants, consider getting self-watering containers. These pots have a water storage tank underneath so dry soil can pull up water as needed.
This means that instead of trying to remember to water your plants a few times a week — and possibly giving your plants too much or too little water — you only have to fill the water reservoir when it’s running low.
5. Fill Your Containers With Soil
After you get your pots, it’s time to fill them with soil. But don’t think you can go outside and dig up dirt straight from the ground. Dirt from outside might not contain all the nutrients your plants need to thrive in containers.
Instead, you’ll want to use a potting mix that has the right combination of peat, coir, compost, and fertilizer to help your plants grow. If you want to grow organic fruits and vegetables, make sure you get Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI)-certified potting soil.
When you’re filling your pots up with soil, make sure you don’t pack it down too tightly. Compacted soil will make it difficult for your plant’s roots to spread, which can stunt their growth.
6. Plant Your Seeds
When you’re planting your seeds, make sure you follow the directions on the packet. Different seeds require different planting depths in the soil to ensure they get the proper amount of sunlight for germination.
After you plant the seeds, you need to make sure the soil stays moist until you see sprouts and the seedlings begin to grow. The ideal moisture level is close to how a sponge that has been wrung out would feel.
Related: How Long Do Seeds Last in Storage?
7. Give Your Indoor Garden Enough Water
How often and how much to water your plants depends on the age of your plants, the type of plants you’re growing, and the conditions inside your home.
Newly planted seeds and plants that have just sprouted will need watered pretty much daily to make sure the soil stays moist. Once the seedlings begin to grow, you can slowly extend the time between waterings and water when the top few inches of the soil feel dry.
If your home is typically warm, low in humidity, and your plants are in a sunny spot, you’ll need to water them more frequently. On the other hand, plants that are in homes with cooler temperatures, higher humidity levels, and in shadier spots won’t need quite as much water.
How do you know when it’s time to water? You can either use a soil moisture meter or you can use your finger. If you stick a finger in the soil and it comes out with dirt on it, your plants don’t need any water. However, if your finger comes out clean, it’s time to water your plants.
8. Fertilize Your Indoor Garden
Since your indoor garden is growing in pots, it won’t be getting the necessary nutrients that outdoor gardens can sometimes naturally get. This means you’ll have to occasionally fertilize your plants.
If you used potting soil that had fertilizer already mixed in, or you added some when you first planted your seeds, check the packaging to see how long it will last. Then you’ll know when to add your first dose. You can also watch your plants for signs of nutrient deficiencies, such as stunted growth or pale leaves.
I recommend going with an organic fertilizer designed for edible fruit and vegetable plants. If you’re using a powder fertilizer, simply mix the necessary amount in the watering can and water your plants as usual.
On the other hand, if you decide to use a granule fertilizer, make several 2-inch deep holes about 1 to 3 inches apart around the pot. Then sprinkle the fertilizer right into the holes, cover with soil, and water.
9. Make Sure Your Plants Get Enough Sun
Different plants have different sunlight requirements. If the type of plant you’re growing requires full sun, it needs about 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
It might be hard to get that amount of light in houses that get a lot of shade and indoor gardens grown in winter. If so, you might need to install some full spectrum grow lights so your plants get enough sun.
If your plants require moderate sunlight, they should get 4 hours of direct light a day. Plants that need indirect sunlight should always be kept a few feet away from a window so they don’t get too much sun.
10. Don’t Give Up
When you start your indoor garden, don’t get discouraged if your lettuce looks droopy or your tomato plant doesn’t produce any fruit. Gardening takes practice whether you’re doing it inside or outside.
Everyone who gardens has plants that die. It’s just a part of the learning process.
The important thing is that you don’t give up. If something doesn’t work, make an attempt to figure out what went wrong and try again.
A Guide to Indoor Gardening for Beginners
Thanks to this guide on indoor gardening for beginners, you know the best plants for an indoor garden and how to start an indoor garden. Now it’s time to get growing and enjoy all those fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year!
More Helpful Gardening Tips
Did you enjoy learning all you need to know about indoor gardening for beginners? Are you interested in discovering even more outstanding gardening tips? Then please be sure to check out these other popular posts:
- The Best Vegetables to Plant in Summer
- How to Start an Urban Homestead
- Easy Vegetable Plants Kids Will Love to Grow
- How to Make DIY Seed Starter Pots