Indoor gardening is kind of a big thing at Fifth Season and we love sharing our knowledge.
This post will help new indoor gardeners understand the space and its potential. We’ll cover the most frequently asked questions and share our best advice to help you get started. If you don’t find the answers you’re looking for here, please feel free to add a question to the comments section below and we’ll do our best to answer it.
Over time, and working together, we can make this a great resource for many aspiring indoor gardeners…Welcome to The Great Indoors!
What can I grow in an indoor garden?
As long as a plant’s preferred conditions can be simulated it can be grown indoors. Edible crops, flowers and ornamental plants are all possible to grow successfully indoors.
In fact, many of these are grown indoors commercially due to the inherent advantages of growing indoors. Many of the leafy greens, peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes available in grocery stores are grown indoors.
What are the advantages to indoor gardening?
Indoor gardening puts you in control of the conditions your plants experience. Pressures from pests and pathogens are far reduced. Cold, dark winter won’t shut you down. Drought and heat don’t apply either!
Indoor gardens are also great for apartment and condo dwellers that simply don’t have the required space for outdoor gardens. Also, depending upon how you do it, indoor gardening can be much less physically demanding than doing so outdoors.
Indoor gardens have a lot going for them. In fact, the “Fifth Season” in our name refers to the opportunity to create an additional, perpetual growing season indoors for all gardeners!
What are the disadvantages of indoor gardening?
You will need to get some equipment to have a successful indoor garden. Mother nature is limited in how she can help you indoors.
Some flowering crops (tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.) will require hand pollination to produce fruit. This isn’t difficult to do, but the insects that normally do this job outdoors won’t have access to your indoor garden…hopefully!
Is it expensive to start an indoor garden?
In short, no it’s not!
Think of indoor gardening as being kind of like fishing. Someone new to fishing doesn’t need to go buy a boat and everything in the tackle shop on day one. In fact, very simple equipment can be used and great results can still be achieved with just a little guidance.
We recommend that you start small and add equipment as your skills and ambitions grow. This way you can hone in on the types of plants you like to grow indoors and get only the equipment that you actually need and will use.
Back to the fishing example, maybe there is a boat in your future, but let’s learn to fish first and go from there!
What are some good plants to start with for indoor gardening?
Some of the most productive and easiest crops to grow indoors are leafy greens, including microgreens. Herbs are also a great place to start.
As a side note, Swiss Chard and heirloom lettuces are some of my favorite things to grow in a garden. While I plant both every Spring and Fall outdoors, I also grow them year round indoors. I do this because I consistently get much better results indoors. No Bugs + Not Too Hot + Not Too Cold = Better, Predictable Yields!
How much space do I need for successful indoor gardening?
Indoor gardens can be as small or as large as you like.
Some suggestions for starting off small:
- Herbs in clay pots near a window don’t take much space at all
- A tray of microgreens, grown under a clear dome, measures just 11” x 21”
If you want a bit more room and capacity, a grow tent may be very helpful for your indoor garden. Conceptually, think of grow tents as being like having a raised bed indoors–everything is contained and you can create optimal conditions. Common grow tent sizes are 2’x2’, 2’x4’, 3’x3’ and 4’x4’.
You’ll be amazed at how productive just a few pots, microgreen trays or square feet of grow tent can be in a successful indoor garden!
What are the main styles of indoor gardening?
Most indoor gardeners will either grow in soil or hydroponically.
Gardening indoors in soil is much like gardening outdoors in soil. If you know how to garden outdoors you also know how to garden in soil indoors! We’ll talk about equipment that you may need below.
Hydroponic indoor gardening is a different matter. When gardening hydroponically, your plants will have constant access to water, nutrients and air. Because of this, they will grow much more rapidly than in soil and you will be able to plant more intensively (more plants in a given space vs. soil). Hydroponic indoor gardens will have higher yields, but do require new skills to be learned and some specialized equipment.
We won’t cover the specifics of how to garden hydroponically here (we’ve got lots of posts on that and better yet…come by a store to see our displays and speak with the team!). Hydroponic gardening isn’t terribly difficult once you learn the basics and can be very rewarding.
Can I garden organically indoors?
If your indoor garden is soil-based…yes, you can! Organic growing practices, fertilizers and amendments all work indoors too. One thing to consider, some of the organic fertilizers have strong aromas. Depending upon where your indoor garden is located, this may be something to think about. No worries, there are plenty of organic fertilizers that won’t overwhelm your olfactory senses to choose from. Worm castings are especially popular for this.
If your indoor garden is hydroponic, you’ll be better off with synthetic nutrients than organic fertilizers. Synthetics are fully soluble and therefore more available to your plants in a hydroponic system. Also, if you’re using pumps or tubing to move water around your system, they’re less likely to clog up the works.
What equipment do I need for a successful indoor garden?
For Soil, we recommend:
- Containers: Fabric and plastic pots are the most popular containers
- Horticultural Lighting: T5 Fluorescent Lights are great for leafy greens, LED are recommended for flowering/fruiting plants
- A Timer: It’s much better to automate the light on/off cycle
- A Grow Tent: Not essential, but they do help to control the conditions of your indoor garden. Also, their internal reflective lining helps to make the most of your light source and they also prevent light from escaping (it can be a little bright in there!)
- A Fan: Airflow helps to build strong plants and to avoid disease from potential excess humidity.
- You’ll need the same equipment as for soil, as well as, specialty hydroponic equipment which will vary depending upon your system.
- The options here are many, and range from very simple to quite complex. It’s best to come by the store and we’ll help sort it all out for you.
Is indoor gardening limited to a hobby, or are there bigger implications?
Commercial growers are increasingly turning to indoor growing to produce their crops. It’s worth searching for information about “Vertical Agriculture” to learn about how some farmers are growing large quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables in urban areas. Additionally, many experts see indoor growing as one of the important solutions to the challenges presented by climate change.
Where can I get more information about getting started with indoor gardening?
This blog is a great resource. Better yet, come by a store to get more in-depth information and to talk through the options and see some of the available equipment.
Youtube is great too for inspiration. While we can’t vouch for all the information you’ll find there…you can 100% get great ideas to help you shape up your own goals in approach.