Whether you’re an urban gardener, or would like to bring your plants safely indoors for the winter; windowsill and indoor gardening is an easy way to grow your favorite herbs, vegetables and peppers. In fact, many plants grown in containers require minimal care, and grow just as well indoors. You will also find that the proximity of the plant is ideal when indoors, as herbs can be easily snipped and thrown into your favorite dish, and you can leave that cumbersome winter jacket in the closet as you harvest your veggies. You’ll also find easy access in recycling your used coffee grounds. This blog post about Container/Vertical Gardening may also be particularly useful as you grow your indoor garden. Follow these simple steps below and grow your own beautiful indoor garden without the worry of frost and weather damage.
Step By Step Indoor Gardening:
- Find a container that is at least 6 inches deep. Containers vary in shape, colors, price and materials used. Wood, plastic and strawberry containers are the least expensive, but may rot easily. Choose Redwood and Cedar wood, ceramic and metal containers if available, as these are less likely to experience wear and tear. Wide containers are also ideal for growing several herbs in one container.
- Scout out a good location in your home for your garden. The location must provide light for at least 5-6 hours a day – keep in mind that south or southeast facing windows yield the most light. Windowsills work well, but be certain that sneaky drafts will not bother your plants. Also, stay clear of heating vents and kitchen appliances, as these can deplete your plants of the humidity needed for proper growth.
- Select herbs, vegetables and chilies that will not grow too tall or wide. The Producer, Veggin’ Out and Uncle Herb’s Favorites have a variety of plants that are easy to maintain in an indoor garden.
- When transplanting plants to the in-doors, add 2 inches of soil to the container and place plant carefully inside. Patting down the soil gently, fill the remaining areas with soil leaving an inch of room at the top of the container for water.
- It’s easy to forget about watering your plants if your location is in a less used room or behind a couch. Create a watering schedule, and ensure plants are getting enough water by allowing water to seep through the holes at the bottom of the container. This helps water infiltrate the roots of the plant. If your containers do not have holes, drill them and place a plastic or decorative container at the bottom of the pot to collect water. Herbs will need less water than vegetables and chilies, and remember to fertilize the soil once a month with organic fertilizer or compost.
- To avoid disease and dust, mist your plants with tepid water, and carefully wipe down leaves that may have accumulated dust.
Using Lights For Indoor Gardening:
Uncle Herb’s Favorites and The Producer have a wide variety of herbs and salad greens that grow well using indoor lights. Obviously more costly than natural sunlight, growing lights can be purchased at any home goods store and many find they are more reliable than waiting for sunny weather. If you live in an area that receives little sunlight (even if just in the winter months), this may be an excellent option for your indoor garden. Because plants need a full spectrum of light for photosynthesis, be sure the lights you purchase are either fluorescent or have high intensity discharge. Both of these methods will ensure your plants grow as naturally as they do in the great outdoors.
Get The Kiddos Involved!
Gardening is a fantastic way to keep your children active while learning about the science and nutrition behind each plant. Are you looking for ideas to get their hands dirty (in a good way)? For one, encourage your children to decorate the plant containers with paints and other artistic tools. They’ll love decorating something for the home! Or, take a family nature walk and pick out unique and odd shaped rocks to place between containers. Label the plants’ names on each rock and set them beside each container. Also, ask children to pick out which seeds they prefer to grow and allow them opportunities to nurture each plant until harvest time. This could be a great opportunity for kids to experience the science of plant growth! Lastly, allow children to help in the kitchen and give them easy jobs using the herbs and veggies they grew! Children will have more awareness about what food goes into their bodies if they take an active role in their daily meals.
What herbs, vegetables and/or plants are you planning on growing indoors this winter?