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How to Start an Indoor Vegetable Garden

How to Start an Indoor Vegetable Garden

Don’t let a lack of outdoor space or inclement weather stop you from growing tasty vegetables indoors. With the right materials and know-how, you can harvest your own indoor veggies. Try the following tips for successful indoor vegetable gardening.

Choose your plants wisely

To have the best luck with indoor gardening, choose vegetable plants designed for containers. Seed packets will indicate when this is the case. Also, opt for dwarf veggie varieties, such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, baby-leaf lettuces and stir-fry mixes, and small-leaved herb varieties.

Seed

1. Fill a plastic seed starting tray with moist seed-starting mix. Working from the left, sprinkle seed for one type of plant in one row, and then cover with a layer of seed starting mix as thick as the size of the seed. Small seeds require a very light coating.

2. Label a craft stick with the name of the plant and the date and insert in that area of the tray. Continue on until you’ve filled the tray with seeds. For seeds of root vegetables such as carrots, you must seed them in the pot you will be growing them, as they can’t be transplanted.

3. Mist the tray with a spray bottle until the surface is thoroughly moistened, and cover the tray with a plastic lid or plastic wrap. Place the tray on a heated seedling mat designed for indoor gardening. Keep the plants covered and moist until the seedlings emerge.

pot-upPot up

Once the seedlings have grown two sets of true leaves, they are ready to pot up. Plant them in a container that’s just one pot size larger in organic potting soil. Once the plant becomes more than two-thirds of the plant/pot combination, pot them up into their third and final pot, which should be a gallon container per plant or a larger container for several plants.

Provide adequate lighting

The biggest difference between the indoors and outdoors is the lack of direct sunlight. While a location next to a bright window will work for some indoor grown vegetables like lettuce or some herbs, such a location is often not sufficient for fruiting plants. Supplement with full-spectrum lighting, which can be found in bulbs or tubes.  An adjustable full-spectrum lighting fixture that allows you to move the light close to the plants is ideal.

watch wateringWatch watering

Keep the plants moist but not soggy, as too much moisture leads to root rot.

Fertilize regularly

Feed the plants with a half-strength solution of an organic vegetable food every three weeks, starting when the seedlings reach 3 to 4 inches tall.

Provide support

Fruiting and climbing plants like tomatoes, peas and beans require a trellis system on which to climb so the branches stay off the soil and have some support when the vegetables start to grow.

Watch for pests

Inspect the plants regularly for indoor gardening pests such as mealy bugs, which are white cottony pests that will suck leaf juices. Rinse off pests with water, and then spray the plants with isopropyl alcohol or treat with insecticidal soap.

Now that you know how to garden with vegetables indoors, you can enjoy your indoor gardening experience and the fruits of your labors no matter what’s going on outside.

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by Julie Bawden-Davis

 

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