Monday, January 7, 2013

Container Gardening Indoors for Veggies

Indoor container gardening is a great way to grow small vegetables, herbs, and certain fruits. If you live in an area that has minimal outdoor space, or if you want to try growing crops during colder months inside where it is warm, indoor container gardening might be for you.

First you will need containers to garden in, the containers that are able to be used vary greatly. You can use polyethylene plastic bags, clay pots, plastic pots, metallic pots, milk jugs, ice cream containers, bushel baskets, barrels, and planter boxes. The container you use needs to have good drainage, hold soil without spilling, be able to support the plants as they grow bigger, and should not contain any chemicals that are toxic to plants and/or human beings. Several vegetables that can be grown in backyard gardens can be grown in containers, although a container's diameter and depth need to be considered when selecting what vegetables to grow. The plant density depends on individual plant space requirements, and rooting depth.

The best vegetables for indoor container gardening are going to be vegetables that take up little space. Some examples are: carrots, radishes and lettuce, or crops that bear fruits over a period of time, such as tomatoes and peppers.

Another factor to keep in mind when choosing the plants that you want to grow in your container garden is how much sunlight your container will get each day, this factor will greatly affect what you can grow. A south facing sunny window is the best location for growing plants indoors. However, if you are very dedicated, there are grow lights that you may be able to incorporate into your indoor container garden, but these lights are not necessary if you have a well lit area in your home, unless you are growing fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers. These plants will also need supplemental light, such as a combination warm-white/cool-white fluorescent fixture, during winter months. Insufficient light will result in tall, spindly plants and failure to flower and set fruit.

When choosing your soil for your container plants a lightweight potting mix is ideal for vegetable container gardening. This enables you to have the best possible soil for your plants.

When planting your container crops you will need to fill a clean container to within an inch of the top with the slightly damp soil mixture. Peat moss in the mix will absorb water and mix much more readily if soaked with warm water before putting the mix in the container. Sow the seeds or set transplants according to instructions on the seed package. Put a label with the name, variety, and date of planting on or in each container. After planting, gently soak the soil with water, being careful not to wash out or displace seeds. Thin seedlings to obtain proper spacing when the plants have two or three leaves. If cages, stakes, or other supports are needed, provide them when the plants are very small to avoid root damage later.

You will want to check your plants' need for water fairly frequently as with small containers they can sometimes dry out quickly. To make watering easy it is smart to set the pots in large trays that have an inch or two of decorative stones in them. Not only will this prevent your having to move the plants in order to water them, which may discourage you from watering when you should, but it will also provide humidity, which is a major requirement, especially during winter when the house is warm and dry.

What works or doesn't work for you in your indoor garden?

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