Growing your own vegetables indoors allows you to have fresh ingredients any time of the year, regardless of where you live. Still, many indoor gardeners start out with a lot of ambition but often give up when their plants don’t get past the seedling stage or are less than ideal for eating.
Here are five common, overlooked mistakes indoor gardeners often make:
1. Being unrealistic.
If you are going to grow plants that, otherwise, need lots of space outside, you may need to reassess what you’re doing. A fully grown plant is going to be much bigger than the seedling. Perhaps you need to plant something else.
You also will need to make sure the plants you are growing are not dangerous to household pets. The bottom line: Do research and have a plan.
2. Not giving the plants a chance.
Different plants grow at different rates. Some seeds need to be planted deep within the soil, while others need to be planted just below the surface for optimal growth. Some need darker environments, while others will not grow at all without as much light as possible. Most packages of seeds give you the appropriate growing instructions for what you are planting.
Again, do your research and be realistic about what you can grow. If you live in a small apartment, it doesn’t make any sense to try and grow plants that require a large amount of space.
3. Not watering properly.
Newly planted gardens are very picky — too little water and nothing will grow, but too much water and your plants will drown. The challenge to a flourishing indoor garden is to find the balance and provide the right amount of water. In general, you will want the soil to be damp but not wet. This can be a bigger challenge during winter when the air is dry.
Make sure you dampen the soil before you sow the seeds and then – after planting — cover the container with clear plastic until the plants are germinated. Check the plants daily to make sure they are not drying out, and water them accordingly.
4. Not providing enough light.
Light will help almost all plants grow, unless you have selected plants that are more shade tolerant. Placing your plant containers in front of a large window is often the gardener’s first choice, but if your window doesn’t face the right direction or get enough sun during the day, then it may not produce desirable results.
Since it might be difficult to provide your new garden with an adequate amount of natural light, you may want to think about an alternate source of light, including grow lights. Your new plants will need about 12-16 hours of light a day. Use a timer to make it easier.
5. Not providing the right environment.
Most newly planted seeds need a warm environment to germinate properly and sprout. But once the seeds have sprouted, they don’t require as warm of an environment and are more tolerant to temperature fluctuations. Proper temperature and air circulation are essential in the early stages of indoor gardening. Set your containers in an environment where these things can be controlled.
Growing plants indoors isn’t easy, and like any hobby it is always best when you have done some research and have as much information as possible. If you can provide your plants with the necessities needed to germinate and sprout, then you will have an indoor garden you can appreciate all winter – and year-round.
What common mistakes have you made growing vegetables indoors? Share your tips in the section below: