Have you ever thought about growing your own vegetables indoors?
Growing vegetables indoors is much easier than most people think. You don't need a super green thumb, a whole bunch of expensive planting equipment or an advanced agricultural or botany degree; all you need is a little space, a few inexpensive containers, soil, seeds and water.
There are several reasons why growing vegetables inside your home is such a great idea. And I'll get into those a little further down in this article. But for now let's look at how easy it is to get grow vegetable plants in nearly any room of your house.
How To Grow Vegetables Indoors
You're going to need a couple of things before we get started. You can get as elaborate or as thrifty as you'd like, because in most instances the plants themselves won't know the difference, and will produce just as well regardless.
A plant pot. Not to be confused with a pot plant! (sorry, little gardening humor there). This is exactly what it sounds like: a container that your vegetables will grow in. If you're going for a decorative vibe, then check out the gardening or even house plant sections of your local department stores, they'll have plenty to choose from, in all shapes, sizes and colors. You can even go with window boxes! If you're looking to work on the cheap, consider containers that you've got laying around the house, such as old plastic soda bottles (just cut them in half), milk jugs, bowls, food grade buckets or just about anything else that's decently sized. Just make sure it's "food safe," because the plants will soak up any chemicals (dangerous or not) and you'll end up eating them.
Potting soil. You can pick this up at a very reasonable price at nearly any department store or local nursery. I think I paid about $8 for a ten-pound bag a month or two ago. Potting soil is perfect for growing indoor plants because it is infused with minerals and nutrients that are ever present in the ground outdoors. These are what your vegetable plants will "eat" while they're growing. Of course you could save a few bucks and scoop up some dirt from your local backyard or park, but for the cheap cost of potting soil and the way it increases your chances of a successful crop yield, I wouldn't skimp here.
Seeds. There are so many varieties of vegetable seeds that you shouldn't have any trouble finding something that sounds delicious and that grows well indoors. Here are few things to keep in mind, though: 1) Make sure the adult plants won't overgrow your pot, most seed packages will say how tall and deep they'll get, so take a look. 2) Make sure the plants will grow in the temperature that your thermostat is set at, again this information should be available on the packaging. 3) Think realistically about what you can grow, if you've got small potting areas, growing six foot corn stalks isn't feasible, but perhaps small carrots would work?
Okay, that's all you'll need to buy at the store or make from scratch. See, growing vegetables indoors is cheap!
How To Prepare Your Pots For Planting
If you bought pots for indoor plants, this is as simple as adding potting soil into the pot. But if you're using a retrofitted container, you'll need to do a little handy work first. What we don't want is for the water to pool up at the bottom and keep the soil soggy. This can lead to root rot and other plant diseases which could ruin your vegetable plants.
You've got two options here, and I've used both with good results.
1. Add a layer of stones at the bottom, then cover the stones with sand before adding the potting soil. This will give the water a place to go without keeping the soil itself wet. Eventually the vegetable roots will grow into this water trap, and that's fine. If you go this route, be mindful about how much water your give your vegetable seedlings, as too much could bring the standing water level up into the soil.
2. Drill or cut a couple of holes in the bottom or sides of the pot, then place it inside another container that will catch the runoff water. Just make sure there is space for the water to flow.
Natural Sunlight Or Artificial Plant Lighting?
In all but the most extreme North and South climates, you should have plenty of natural sunlight to grow indoor vegetables, even during the shorter days of winter. I would recommend finding a spot near a window that gets plenty of natural light, though.
If you dont' get enough natural light, or you just want a large crop of indoor grown vegetables, you could consider a growing light. These are pretty inexpensive, and mimic the natural rays of the sun, which helps your vegetable plants thrive (plants need these rays to grow, you know, photosynthesis and all that science stuff).
Personally, I've never used a light. I've had plenty of friends who have them and use them all the time, and report great success, but I always opt for natural sunlight. It just seems more natural that way.
What Kind Of Vegetables Can You Grow Indoors?
Pretty much anything. Vegetables are extremely hardy, unlike most fruits, so it's pretty easy to grow most of them inside. Carrots, beats, celery, turnips, potatoes, lettuce, spinach, cabbage and onions grow extremely easy indoors. So do vine vegetables like squash, pumpkins, tomatoes.
You should be able to find all these vegetable seeds year round in your local department stores or nurseries. Hardware and home improvement stores are another place to look, such as Lowe's, Home Depot and Ace.
You an also try your hand at more than veggies; growing herbs and spices indoors are just as easy and rewarding.
No matter what seeds you buy, always follow the watering instructions on the packaging. Some require lots of water, other very little. Never over or under water your plants, as they could die; or at the very least under-produce.
Also follow the planting instructions. They should specify planting depth and spacing. Follow these as closely as possible.
Some Advantages Of Indoor Vegetable Plants
For starters, eating vine-ripened veggies fresh out of the plant itself means you'll get more flavor and nutrients. Most of the vegetables you buy at the store have traveled hundreds - if not thousands - of miles from where they were grown; and during that trip they lose flavor, vitamins and nutrients.
It looks cool, too. I like the aesthetic quality of some really neet pots growing vegetables in my home. You'd be surprised at how many conversations they start, too.
And you'll feel good, too, knowing that you're eating healthy, fresh produce that hasn't been saturated with chemicals or other nasty substances.
See, growing vegetables indoors is fun, easy, cheap and rewarding!