Plants in Small Spaces
Low Maintenance, Indoor Edibles
of dubious pesticides infiltrating our food system, many people turn to gardening
to know precisely where their food comes from and how it is grown. While
sprawling outdoor gardens may be the envy of urban dwellers lucky to
even have a balcony, anyone with a window or two can produce his or
her own food indoors. The trick is to know what makes plants tick.
Once you understand the conditions each plant requires and choose
the appropriate pots, you will be well on your way to producing an
indoor garden that churns out delicious and nutritious food nearly year-round.
What do plants need? Each is different, and there are plenty of guides
to get you started. For the most part, plants require space to allow
their roots and leaves to grow, light for photosynthesis (although some
plants like leafy greens prefer a bit of shade, whereas plants that produce
fruithttp://www.colostate.edu/Dept/CoopExt/4dmg/VegFruit/vegshady.htm from a flower require a lot of sun), nutrients, and water. Plants
thrive in different temperatures and have specific harvesting periods.
Like other species, the gestational period of a plant varies: Some reach
maturity in a couple of months, whereas others (such as sprouts) can be
harvested within a matter of days.
Before you get growing, consider your home’s specific conditions, including
temperature, light, and space. Then choose edibles that are most likely to
succeed in your particular environment. We’ve selected a few of the most
common varieties that even an amateur gardener can grow along with indoor
growing systems to make your life easier.
Common Indoor Plant Varieties
While dozens of herbs, fruits, and vegetables can grow indoors –
particularly if you get creative with heirloom seeds http://www.seedsavers.org/ – here are some
of the easiest ones to start.
Rich in vitamin A, biotin, vitamin K, and a host of other nutrients, http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=21
carrots are simple, but they do require a great deal of light and a decent
amount of space. Plant the seeds 1 inch apart in fertile soil containing
plenty of nitrogen-rich humus. http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/humus/?ar_a=1 Use a deep container (up to 2 feet). You
can mix composted food scraps into organic soilhttp://www.organicmechanicsoil.com/ to create a nitrogen-rich
blend. If you plant several rows of carrots, be careful not to crowd the
roots, which are quite fragile.http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/carrots-growing-guide Ensure the soil stays moist, but not
drenched, and watch the seeds germinate within a couple of weeks. Radishes,
another root vegetable, are also a good fit for indoor gardens.
Most herbshttp://extension.psu.edu/plants/gardening/fact-sheets/herbs/growing-herbs-indoors grow well indoors and are great to have on hand
in your kitchen for cooking. Now it’s easier than ever to get
your organic herb garden going because many retailers sell basil,
parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, and other herb starters in small
plastic pots. You can also start from seeds in a shallow container
placed on your windowsill. Water well, but don’t overdo it, and make
sure there’s plenty of natural air circulating so the plants can breathe.
Some herbs, such as rosemary, prefer cooler conditions; just do a little
research beforehand to optimize success.
Packed with all kinds of beneficial nutrients, http://www.webmd.com/diet/leafy-greens-rated including vitamins A, C, and K
and sometimes calcium, leafy greens should be a staple in any home, especially
because they are so easy to grow. Rape and mustard greens grow easily and can
even grow without soil. Organic Consumers https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/tip-growing-organic-food-inside-your-home-year-round recommends scattering seedlings
in plastic berry containers lined with several layers of moist paper towels
and then placing them in a brown paper bag in a dark area of the home. Spray
with water occasionally to maintain a moist environment. When the seedlings
reach about 1 inch in height, remove them from the bag, and relocate to a
lighter area, but not in direct sunlight. Harvest the greens when they reach 2 to 3 inches.
It may surprise you, but potatoes flourish indoors. These tubers require
a deep container. Alternatively, you can purchase special grow bagshttp://www.gardeners.com/how-to/potato-grow-bag-instructions/7099.html that promote
circulation around the roots and allow excess water to drain. Place sprouted potatoes
into your container (root side down) and leave plenty of room on top of the bag for
additional soil and compost as the potatoes grow. When the potatoes are ready – roughly
10 weekshttp://www.almanac.com/plant/potatoes – remove or simply dump out the contents.
Sprouting is en vogue, http://mobile.foodnavigator-usa.com/Suppliers2/Sprouted-grains-offer-significant-sales-growth-in-next-five-years/ and why not? All kinds of seeds, grains, and
legumes produce delicious shoots that are great for juicing and salads.
But before you grow your own at home, know this: The same conditions that
help sprouts grow so quickly – warmth and humidity – also serve as ideal
environments for certain bacteria http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/types/fruits/sprouts.html such as Listeria and E.coli. So long as
you keep the proper conditions in mind, sunflower seeds, peas, lentils, and
chickpeas are great sprouts to grow indoors. Plant in jam jars capped with a
muslin lidor in sprouting bags. http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Make-Use-a-Seed-Sprouting-Bag/
Traditional Indoor Plant Containers
Some gardeners take a traditional approach to containers,
whereas others prefer to reuse existing materials with the added
benefit of saving money and natural resources. Here are a few options
for indoor plant containers.
Made out of wood, plastic, or terracotta, pots of varying sizes
do not require any support and can be used to grow potatoes, strawberries,
small bulbs, or herbs.
This may be the most familiar type of indoor container and can be made of a
variety of materials. You can save space and take advantage of the sunniest parts
of your home by attaching one above or below a windowsill.
We mentioned growing bags are great for potatoes and sprouts.
You can grow other plants in the bags, too, but they aren’t as aesthetically
pleasing as most other containers are. You can purchase growing bags or make your own. http://northernhomestead.com/sew-grow-bag/
A converted container was designed for another purpose but is used to grow plants.
With today’s DIY and sustainable movements alive and well, this is a popular choice for
creative gardeners. Plant in salvaged materials http://www.bhg.com/gardening/container/plans-ideas/beyond-the-ordinary-flowerpot/ such as jars, buckets, mailboxes, antique
bake ware, and rain boots. http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/gardening/advice/g1135/rainboot-planters/
Indoor Growing Systems
For people who don’t have time or the green thumb to tend even a
low-fuss garden indoors, there are great foolproof systems for growing food.
From simple indoor hydroponics http://ag.arizona.edu/ceac/what-hydroponics and vertical growing systems that maximize space
to high-tech systems inspired by NASA,http://www.nasa.gov/ a number of new products afford busy urbanites
an opportunity to enjoy fresh food grown at home without having to do any of the work.
Imagine being able to grow 36 heads of lettuce right in your kitchen.
It sounds impossible, but the Phytopod Hydro http://www.verticalhomegardens.com/#!home2/cgej
can make this a reality. The
simple modular device is composed of a bucket, cylindrical wire mesh, and a
growing medium that facilitates high-yield hydroponics (which means growing
in nutrient-rich water rather than soil) for the home, office, school, or any
other indoor space. A vertical system with a tiny footprint that delivers nutrients
directly to the root system, the Phytopod comes in an array of styles and sizes.
Replacing potting soil with NASA-tested technology might not be to everyone’s taste,
but the Aerogardenhttp://www.aerogarden.com/aerogarden-ultra-1.html#moreinfo bears an impressive amount of produce five times faster than traditional
planting does. The system has a control panel with an LCD display that provides users with
step-by-step instructions from seed to harvest. Aerogarden delivers the right amount of
nutrients and light at the right time to optimize growth. Using zero soil, this is the
ultimate solution for busy people with a decent budget.
Back to the Roots
This isn’t necessarily the most efficient product for serious fresh food lovers,
but it’s a fun, creative take on indoor gardening. Back to the Roots https://backtotheroots.com/Pages/?p=9413eff8-43dd-4dc5-9a4d-4a6c524338b3 is an aquaponic
system that draws necessary nutrients to grow plants straight from a small fish tank.
The beneficial bacteria in the tank convert ammonia into nitrates, which help plants
thrive. Then, as the plants utilize the nitrates, they clean the water for your fish.
This system even uses 90 percent less water than does traditional farming. You can grow
six different kinds of fresh organic produce.
Click and Grow
Click and Growhttp://www.clickandgrow.com/ allows you to grow herbs and spices quickly, providing
you with a continually rotating system of fresh greens in your kitchen. A
water tank holding up to a month’s supply of water, smart soil containing the
perfect level of nutrients, and LED grow lights that know when to turn on and
off take all the guesswork out of gardening. And the best part? This system only
uses up to $3 of electricity in a year.
Whether you grow your indoor plants in tubs, bowls, baskets troughs,
jars, vases, or more advanced growing systems, the only limitation is your imagination.