Getting an early start by growing plants indoors is becoming more and more popular among gardeners (in harsher climates especially). The main advantage is having yield for your herbs and vegetables as early into the season as possible, and beautiful blooms before most others!
Find the right space:
Look for the area needed to store the indoor garden you are planning. Depending on the size, you will need to adjust the room you need. Try finding a table near a window that has access to light. Be sure not to get too close to the windows (especially old aluminum windows) as this may cause a draft. Vinyl floors beneath your plants are a bonus as it is easy to clean spills. Try planting your starter plants into a plastic cup, 4″ grower pot or other household container. Anything can work really, so get creative!
The majority of plants grow well between 18 and 23 degrees Celsius. Plants that are too hot will grow stretchy, while plants that are too cold may have a yellowish tinge to their foliage.
Plants need moisture, which means a lack of humidity in the house can make growing a challenge. Furthermore, growing in the seasons when you have your heat on, can add to that challenge.
Three signs your plants are not getting the humidity they need:
1) Falling leaves, 2) Withering foliage 3) Browning tips
To increase humidity we recommend:
- Mist plants daily, or more often as needed. Avoid misting hairy-leaved plants since the water hangs around longer and can cause disease.
- Place a tray of water near your garden (don’t put plants in the tray, this can lead to other problems). Fill the tray with lava rocks to increase surface area for evaporation.
- Place plants close together to create a microenvironment with a higher relative humidity.
- Run a humidifier (this might benefit your skin as well!).
Use an organic or high grade soil if possible. Using soil from outside will usually not suffice.
Moving the plants outside:
Plants moving outside need a period of “hardening” to adjust to the different climate. The following steps will help acclimate an indoor grown plant to the outdoors:
- Allow 5-7 days before you transplant your plants. Place them outside in a shady spot or cold frame for 3-4 hours for the first day.
- Each day, increase the time spent outdoors by 1-2 hours. Bring plants back in each night.
- After 2-3 days, place plants in morning sun, then move them into the shade in the afternoon.
- If the temperature stays around 10°C, plants should be able to stay out all day and night after 5 days.
- If possible, transplant on a cloudy day and water thoroughly.