If you are an apartment dweller, look to your patio and balcony to provide the perfect place to start your indoor container vegetable garden. Herbs can be grown indoors easily as well. An added benefit to indoor container vegetable gardening is you can do this all year round!
You may raise an eyebrow or two at this suggestion, but it can be done, within limits. Certainly pumpkins, squash, and sweet corn are not going to be items grown inside the average home. But, many leafy crops, root crops, tomatoes, and other vegetables can be grown indoors during the cold months of the year. You don’t need a large outdoor garden to enjoy growing fresh vegetables.
Container gardening is great because you can position your containers for the best light exposure and best growing conditions. Although vegetable production will be limited by the number and the size of your containers, indoor container gardening can be very rewarding. So, let’s get started with a plan for your vegetable harvest for this year!
Here are a few vegetables to consider for indoor growing: Cherry tomatoes, Hungarian sweet peppers, ‘Gypsy’ peppers, Short vined cucumbers and squash, Endive, Radishes, Spinach, Swiss Chard, Leaf Lettuce, Miniature cabbage, Eggplant, Chives, Green onions, Bush beans and most any Herb.
Planning your garden is one of the most important parts of container vegetable gardening. You can have hanging baskets, pots, and planters filled with various crops that will perform fairly well if lighting, pollinating, watering, fertilizing, and temperature requirements are met. Decide what pots you want to use, and then choose your soil carefully. Soilless mixes like peat-lite are usually too light for container vegetable gardening and will not support plant roots effectively. However, indoor gardening soil is different than regular garden soil, so inquire at your local nursery as to the best soil for your container gardening. Preparing your garden soil for planting is the most physically demanding part of vegetable gardening and may also be the most important part.
Creating Your Indoor Container Herb Garden in 10 Easy Steps
Starting you Indoor Container Herb Garden can be done by following these 10 easy steps. They can make starting your new hobby much easier and while some steps may seem like common sense, others contain information you may not have considered yet.
1. Select Your Area: You will need an area large enough to house the number of plants you wish to grow. It would be ideal if you have an area in front of large window where the plants can get lots of light. If you don’t then just select an area with adequate space and where you would like grow your herb garden. I would suggest in or near the kitchen or dining room, if you have enough available space there, since the kitchen is where you will typically be using your herbs.
2. Determine Your Light Source: If the area selected does not get enough natural light (8-12 hours a day is preferable) you will need grow lights. Grow lights come in many shapes and sizes and with many mounting options. You can purchase grow bulbs that will fit into many normal lamps or light fixtures. The lights should be positioned to shine down onto the plants but be placed far enough above them so that the heat from the light does not scorch/over heat the plants. My personal preference is a plant stand that has the grow lights built in or attached to it. With this type of setup it will take little effort to move your garden if you decide you want it in a different area.
3. Pick Your Surface: Steps 3-5 should be considered together because each of these steps will depend on the other two. Decide the surface you will use to hold your Container Herb Garden. Your selection will depend on the area you have available. You can use shelves, freestanding or mounted, plant stands or just a table, whatever works best for you and your area. Make sure that the surface you choose will allow all containers to receive enough light from your source and a water proof surface is a good idea since water spills will inevitably happen.
4. Select Your Containers: They will need to fit in the area selected and on the surface you chose. Make sure the containers you select have drain holes in the bottom and come with saucers to catch any water that filters through. Saucers can be purchased separately if the containers you prefer don’t come with one. Make sure the containers selected in step 4 are deep enough to support the root system and wide enough to support any spreading of your herbs as they grow. This will depend heavily on the herb varieties you chose in step 6. Other than the afore mentioned must dos, just have fun and pick the containers that fit your taste, style and/or dcor.
5. Select Your Soil: Don’t skimp on this step and purchase a high quality potting soil. I recommend one that will “feed” the plants for at least six months. That means it will be up to six months before you need to worry about fertilizing your herbs.
6. Select Your Herbs: You can begin with seeds or live plants. Live plant availability will depend on the time of year you begin your project but seeds can be acquired anytime of the year. If starting from seed, you will need to sprout the seeds and allow them to mature some prior to planting them in the larger containers. I generally allow them to get at least 4 inches tall before planting them in the larger containers but if the plants are growing well and look healthy then they can be panted when they are smaller. You will need to be the judge of when your sprouts are ready.
7. Fill Your Containers: Start with a small amount of gravel in the bottom of each containers, this will help the soil drain. Use just enough to cover the bottom with 1-2 layers of gravel. The gravel should be large enough not to plug the drain holes but not too large. to inch is usually about the right size. Fill the containers the rest of the way, loosely, with soil. The size of the container and the expected mature size of the herb will determine how many plants may be placed in each container. Using a small shovel, or large spoon, make a hole (part the dirt) for each plant. Make sure you place the plant deep enough in the soil that all of the roots are covered. It is better to plant them a little deeper than necessary than not deep enough. Press the soil down firmly around the plants adding more soil as necessary.
8. Water Your Plants: Make sure the soil is thoroughly moistened. You will want to make sure the soil is kept well moistened while the plants establish a good root hold in the new soil.
A Guide To Container Gardening Ideas
There are many advantages to container gardening such as lack of room or space for a full size garden, apartment living or just to decorate your patio area. Container gardening is also ideal if you have very poor soil in your garden, as growing plants in a container can be controlled and easy to tend. Here I have suggested some container gardening ideas that will add color and interest to any area.
Before you start your container garden there are a few tips that will help to ensure your plants grow healthily. Firstly, although almost any container can be used for container gardening, it must be a container that has sufficient drainage to allow surplus water to drain away from the roots of the plants. If there is not adequate drainage your plants will rot and die.
Choosing your container is only limited by your imagination. You may opt for a traditional wooden garden planter or large plastic garden pots. But you may choose something a little more unconventional such as a garden sink, an old stock pot, buckets or even an old toilet. It all depends on the look you want and how much of a talking point you want your container garden to become. Most garden supply stores and garden nurseries sell a variety of containers.
Secondly, using a good quality garden potting compost should be used as this will contain all the nutrients your plants will need. They may be in the container for some time, so a regular feed with garden fertilizer will also boost the nutrients. Slow release pellets are very useful for container gardening.
Thirdly, consider the location of your container garden. Although your plants will need sunlight to thrive, too much sun and they may burn. Some plants prefer a more direct sunlight, while others prefer a sheltered spot. If unsure always read the growing instructions or seek advice from a garden nursery or online web site.
Once having decided on your container, your next step is to decide what to plant. This will depend very much on the climate of where you live, the size of the container you have chosen and the height you want your display to be.
If you wish to make the most of your container for the whole year, consider planting bulbs for the spring and then refilling your container with summer plants. A container filled with daffodils, tulips and hyacinths will not only look beautiful, but smell fragrant too.
Other container gardening ideas for the Spring are bowls full of sweet perfumed Iris. They have beautifully formed blooms that range in color from yellows, blues, purples, deep reds and brown. Pansies and daisies are particularly good for an outdoor display of color at this time of year. These are also suited to a hanging container. A shallow container of crocuses can look stunning if tightly planted.
You may wish to have a color scheme for your container garden. Using gardening catalogues and garden magazines can often help you visualize how you want your container to look.
For a red hot look, sun loving nasturtiums make a long lasting easy to grow container garden display. Their vivid scarlet flowers combined with decorative foliage make nasturtiums a very popular choice. These can be planted along with other plants such as apricot verbena to compliment the reds.
Of course it may not be flowers you want to grow, herbs make ideal container gardening ideas. Having your own fresh herbs for your cooking is made very easy in a container. Containers for herbs are best if the herbs can be grown at several layers, but is not vital. To make your container herb garden, plant your herbs in Spring. If looked after well they could last for several years. Herbs such as parsley, sage, basil, chives and marjoram all make good container grown plants.