As warmer weather approaches, some home gardeners get impatient with waiting. If you’re one of the people getting impatient, have no fear, starting your garden early is within your reach. Indoor vegetable gardening is growing in popularity with successful results. Your impatience can pay off by helping you save money, and giving you a head start on your vegetable garden. Here are seven useful tips, learned from experts, for starting your garden indoors.
Get Ahead of the Game
Depending on the area you live in, there may still be a threat of winter weather for your area. Now is the right time to begin growing your seeds indoors. It’s time to get motivated and get ahead of the game! The spring growing season is right around the corner, now is a great time to begin growing your vegetables indoors. With a few proper steps, your indoor garden will be ready for transplanting with healthy, and happy seedlings in time for the growing season.
Choose Your Plants and Gather Seeds
The time has come to choose the plants you want and buy their seeds. Home and garden centers, discount stores, nurseries, and even grocery stores stock a large variety of seeds to choose from. Head to your favorite choice of stores and buy a variety of seeds. Keep in mind, there are many retail online stores that may have a wider range of seeds available.
When shopping for your seeds, consider online retailers. There are some new plant varieties and lesser-known seeds they may have available. Taking advantage of online stores can help you find the newest or latest seeds that physical stores do not carry. When you are shopping for seeds, try to think outside of the box. Instead of buying the same carrots or radishes that everyone else sells, buy seeds that not all stores carry. This will help make your garden unique in its quality.
Buying seeds will save you money because plants are more expensive. Even if the seed pack has more than you’ll use in a season, you can always pack them away and use them the next growing season. If you have gardening friends, you could always swap out seeds with them, there is no need to throw them in the trash.
Types of Containers to Use
With the decision to start your garden indoors, consider what type of containers you want to use. Here are a few examples of unique containers you can use for your indoor garden.
Yogurt cups–empty yogurt cups are 2-3 inches wide, and 2-3 inches deep, making them the perfect container. Pop holes in the bottom of the container for water drainage.
Plastic water bottles–cut the top off used water bottles. Pop holes in the bottom of the container for water drainage.
Used plant holders–previous year plant holders work as well as new ones. To clean, you’ll need bleach and water in a separate container. Add nine parts water and one part bleach, the submerge the container into the solution. After, then rinse it with water. This also helps disinfect the container.
Newspaper Cup–newspaper cups are biodegradable, and you can place them directly in the ground when transplanting outside. It is simple to make a newspaper cup. Wrap a piece of newspaper around a two-inch dowel or something similar in sizes, like a paper cup or glass. After you form the cup, fold the bottom of the newspaper tight and fill with dirt for your seeds.
Cow Pots— are made from composted cow manure, which is also biodegradable, and you can plant them in the ground outside. Cow pots make good fertilizer for your plants, so they are functional even after planted in the ground.
Pick a Dedicated Indoor Location
When beginning your seeds indoors, you’ll need a warm place to set them in. do not worry about light as much at first. Once your plants break through the soil, then you can move them into a well-lit area of your house. Place your containers by a window for warmth and natural light. If the window or area has any drafts, they will need moving to an area without drafts.
When moving your plants, it is fine to move them to an area that has both artificial light and natural light. Both light sources are effective for growing, but natural light is always the best.
When the Time is Right–Prep the Soil and Plant the Seeds
When planting an indoor vegetable garden, less is always more. While you may have less space to work in, your indoor garden can still prosper.
Preparing your soil for indoor planting is easier than for outdoor, even though you have less space. When you’re ready to plant your seeds, you can use potting mix right out of the bag. Or if you’d rather, feel free to buy a seed starting kit. Either option will give the same results if done correctly.
Seed packages usually come with instructions on the back. They list times of the year, zones, how far to space the seeds, and more. Be sure to read the directions on the seed packets since no two are exactly alike. For further instructions or if the seed packets do not explain what you need, feel free to contact a gardening professional for their advice.
Planting your seeds inside too soon could result in plants that are too large for transplanting. Large plants tend to become stressed when you try to transplant them. Another important tip is not to transplant your seedlings too soon. Much of it can depend on the weather in your area. By transplanting outside too early, the soil may still be too cold and a sudden frost could kill them.
Also, do not transplant your seedlings too soon. The soil might be too cold, or the possibility of a late frost could kill them.
Water in Moderation
Did I water too much? Did I water too little? These are common questions from new gardeners, veteran gardeners may question themselves too. Knowing how much water is enough for indoor plants can be a bit tricky. This is one reason why popping holes in your containers for water drainage is important. Be sure to check the soil every day when tending your indoor garden. Your soil needs to be wet all the way through for the roots to grow in a downward motion. The easiest way to check the moisture is to stick your finger in the soil.
Once your seeds are all planted in their containers, it’s important to cover them with damp newspaper or plastic to help keep the warmth and moisture in them. As your seeds begin to break through the soil, you can uncover them.
Shed Some Light On It
Natural sunlight is the best for growing plants. However, your plants can still benefit from fluorescent lights which are cool and warm. When supplementing natural light for artificial light, it is best to use the light from a bulb. It is recommended to use full-spectrum LED and CFL lights for artificial lighting. These lights are more cost-effective and more energy-efficient.
When using artificial light, place the lighting at least six inches above your plants. As the plants begin to grow, you will need to raise or lower them depending on their size. For this reason, many gardeners use lights that hang by chains above their plants.
You can also use aluminum foil or whiteboard around the containers and on their surfaces to reflect the light.