With all of the hype about clean eating, do-it-yourself compost projects and energy-efficient appliances, you are probably thinking it’s about time you hop aboard the Go Green train. If you want to begin with something small, try building a vegetable and herb garden right inside your home. No more going to the grocery store to pick out the ripest produce or waiting in line at the local farmer’s market. Here is Ryan Homes at Brunswick Crossing’s guide to indoor gardening:
Pick a space. No matter the plant, most vegetables and herbs can be grown on a windowsill or on a small coffee table near the window. You can also grow larger gardens on a kitchen table, high shelf or bench. It is best to use an area with a tile or linoleum floor for easy clean up. If you do not have either floor type, put a tarp under the area instead.
Create the perfect temperature. Keeping your home or townhouse between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is best for most plants. A 10-degree difference in either direction will make for small and weak plants or plants with yellow leaves that quickly die off, so watch that thermostat!
Provide ample light. Plants need sunlight to go through photosynthesis, so they can survive. In the winter when the sun does not shine as often, purchase a grow light that has the same wavelengths as the sun. This means that a regular light bulb will not do, so consider the differences in incandescent lamps, fluorescent lights, high-pressure sodium (HPS) bulbs, metal halide (MH) bulbs and high intensity discharge (HID) bulbs. After buying a grow light, make sure it is close enough to provide the necessary amount of light, but far away enough that it does not burn the leaves.
Pick the perfect seeds or sprouts. With inside gardening, you don’t have to worry about seasons as much, but you should know which foods grow best between your 4 walls. Start off with cherry or banana peppers, green onions, radishes, basil, tomato, lettuce, garlic, parsley and cilantro. With these staple herbs and veggies, the dinner possibilities are endless.
Opt for hydroponics. You can plant your seeds in an organic mulch or dirt near a window, but have you considered hydroponics? Instead of growing your new plants in a soil mixture, using hydroponics provides the necessary nutrients directly without the roots. Soil holds the nutrients and anchors the plants’ roots, but with hydroponic growing, the nutrients are readily available. Because of this, plants grow up to 50 percent faster and last longer due to the disease-free technique. If a plant does get sick, it will be the only one affected because hydroponic growing does not affect root bound plants.
Water them constantly. Just like outdoor plants, your indoor garden needs to be water consistently with clean and fresh water. It should be room temperature that is dispensed through drain holes of a pot or container. Do not place a saucer under the plant as water can collect, which could lead to rotting or disease. However, you can put your plants in a self-watering planter or purchase a self-watering orb, such as Aqua Globes. If you choose to use hydroponics, your plants will start to wilt when they need to be watered, so you will know right away.
Building your own vegetable and herb garden is easy, inexpensive and fun for everyone. Get your kids in on the action by teaching them how to take care of plants and how to grow vegetables. Having you pick your garden means fresher ingredients for you and your family’s meals, too. No more second-guessing where your produce is coming from, so pick a good spot with nice lighting, set the right temperature, dig holes for your seeds and water away!