Gardening Indoors

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Indoor and urban gardening is something practically all people can get into. Starting, tending, enjoying, and harvesting plants for personal, home, and societal benefit is interesting, progressive, and practical. Plants can be made to grow in just about any location with a bit of determination, schooling, creativity, and investment. Once sown, plants provide a copiousness amount of benefit to the environment and growers they belong to including aesthetic and atmospheric enhancement. In this essay, the benefits, process, and practicality of indoor planting is reviewed with helpful pictures, links to tutorials, and growing lists for ideal plants.  

Benefits

As society becomes progressively more jammed together, the need for greenery and the efficient use of space becomes more and more apparent. The use of vegetables for cleaning up and renewing space public and private becomes increasingly valuable. Having plants inside your house is one of best ways to purify your house’s internal air currents. As natural breathing organisms that take in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen, the choice to put plants indoor is one of the healthiest ones a person can make in the modern world where conditioned and stagnant air threaten pollute the air (Vinje). They also can be a fun and developmentally stabilizing project that kids and adults may use to feel a little more rooted in the quickly shifting world that has become.  When they reach their fruition, plants may also produce fruits, herbs, and vegetables that help to supplement and complement foods that are normally eaten with nutrition one can trust and love since they are grown right at home. Organically growing one’s own food indoors is also a sure way to ensure the safety and health of the foods eaten and thus to protect and fortify personal health. 

Space

Growing plants indoors is not all that hard. If there is a vacant space within the home that you feel is looking bare or needing some extra life force, it is likely that you may grow plants in that location to receive their many benefits. Ideally, such a location is not far from a window to give it exterior light however artificial light sources may be introduced as well to assist in their growth (Vinje). At the time of choosing such a location, it is equally important to consider what the under-area of the plants is like as well since plants do occasionally drip and splash dirt or water. Thus a tile or linoleum floor is preferable over a carpeted or hard-wood floor setting, both of which however can be covered with water-proof materials such as plastic wrap or tarp (Vinje). It is also helpful to choose a place where there is not too wide of an expected temperature shift. Plants grow superiorly in 65 to 75 degrees F within moderate humidity (Vinje). Sometimes humidification is necessary for plants; something that can be easily achieved by placing the plants near open water sources, a humidifier, or simply having a tray of water nearby for evaporation (Vinje). 

Materials

Starting to garden is a pretty easy once all the necessary materials, space, and desire is gathered together. For light, it is important consider how enormous the plants in question are to grow. For beginners, it is best to keep it light and choose plants that will not grow out of hand or require all that much more soil, light, or water than what they begin with (Vinje). Placing plants by the window may help them have a good amount of sun for the 24 hour day however the changing of the seasons and outside growth around the window may interfere with the amount of sun that the plant receives. Thus, looking into artificial light sources may be a wise idea for novice and enthusiastic plant growers alike. Several options present themselves, all of which can be decided upon by the intensity and difficulty level accepted in growing. The most basic level is the use of the incandescent light bulb, the same kind of light bulb mostly used around the house. Placing a lamp or overhead light-fixture with an incandescent light bulb is known to help most all plants to grow. It is however important to look for ‘full-spectrum’ light bulbs as these carries the fuller frequencies of color that plants are more adjusted to from their evolution in the sun (Nickleson). Below, a wattage chart is attached is shown for area and light mounting considerations. High Intensity Discharge (HID) bulbs, highly bright, efficient, yet expensive, are also great for indoor gardening. One HID light bulb at 1,000 watts can offer as much light as 50 40 watt fluorescents (Vinje). 

Size of Light

(Measurements omitted for preview. Available via download).

Nonetheless, consideration of a fluorescent light source may be worthwhile as these light sources are about a fourth the energy, last 10x longer, and shine brighter than many incandescent lights. Fluorescent lights are particularly well suited for starting plants and growing greens within a low to medium light requirement (Nickleson). For buyers, fluorescent light types include T5, T8, and T12 are available with the T5 being the narrowest and most efficient of them sine it has the smaller surface area (Nickleson). Fluorescents are also non-heat generating and therefore can be placed directly next to plants without damaging them; a benefit that has been capitalized upon with the ‘Tower Garden Grow Light’, a growing cage with a fluorescent light inside that one can use to both grow plants and generate a lovely white-green ambiance for inside the home.  A version of this light form is shown to the side and cost a little of 200 dollars however a person may creatively devise a similar lighting apparatus from this design for less.  To create such a structure it is useful to also buy or build a cage. Doing this is a matter of matching plant type to cage while insuring that the cage does not block out needed light. The same cages used for outdoor growing, found at most home and garden supply stores can also be used indoors. To maximize a small space, it may be beneficial to construct a hanging planter. Alternatively, One can construct a very  efficient vegetable tower, with holes facing all or different directions, within the home with just a materials. A tutorial link is included for readers in this essay’s sources below (MMK). 

When it comes to choosing a growing medium, it is important to use a mix that is specific to indoor plants. Growing mixes are sold in most commercial stores that use a blend of earthworm castings, bat guano, ocean residue, forest humus, sandy loam, and peat moss, a collection of ingredients that would be hard to assemble on one’s own (Vinje). Finally, water is a necessity for all plants and using water that is not contaminated in any way is a must as these are plants which will be eaten. Using just enough water to keep the soil consistently moist will be best determined by the grower’s discerning eye and touch. As a rule of thumb, your thumb should be able to feel the moistness of the soil by touch regularly. Use a watering schedule for the plants if watering by hand or a timer if an automatic drip system is employed (Burton 9). If the plant appears grey and brown, more water is needed. If the leaves become sickly and yellow, use less water. 

Plant Choices

When it comes to choosing a plant set to grow, be aware that certain plants are better for indoors than others. Since plants do well growing from seed indoors, starting this way is recommended for indoor gardening rather than hunting down plants that are already grown(Vinje).  To the right is a selection of some of the best options to choose from. Furthermore, low maintenance plants, for beginners include Pothos plants, Spider Plants, Snake Plants, and Bromelaids, all of which have once a month watering cycles (Burton 11). Moderate watering schedules are used for Dragon Trees, Sword Ferns, and Jade Plants (Burton 11). The Bonzai, Orchid, African Violets, and vegetables described above are a bit more difficult as they will need steady and consistent care (Burton 16). 

Extra Tips

Growing plants is a long process that will hopefully will be simple and fruitful. Nevertheless, certain behaviors from the plants may indicate a problem and require an adjustment of growing plans. Signs of droopy, wilted leaves even with wet soil and/or reduced distorted, shriveled, and too much soft new growth can be an indicator of fungus and/or bacterial infection (Bawden-Davis, Rose Davis, and Metivier 8). If too many roots are within a potted plant structure, it may be that they are missing nutrients and maybe water. When a side of the plant is outgrowing the others this indicates inadequate light (Bawden Davis, Rose Davis, & Metivier 9). Sticky residue on the plant means that the plant is under threat by pests. Spider mites, thrips, scale, aphids, and mealy bugs may be the trouble makers. Using a magnifying glass at 10x may resolve what type is the problem and point to possible control solutions. In the links below, ‘Houseplant pests’ offers images of each of the typical pests and solutions for their dissolution.

Conclusion

While not exhaustive, this outline on the benefits and methods for growing has given some form and insight to the overall growing process. Organically growing plants in indoor/urban locations can revitalize environments and be a fun activity to develop self-reliance and sustainability. With so many options for growing styles, plant types, and lighting options, the avenues to explore for growing are nearly endless and vastly customizable to the expertise, price level, and desire of every gardener.

Works Cited

Bawden-Davis, Julie, Rose Davis, Sabrina, & Metivier, Chas. Indoor Gardening the Organic Way: How to create a Natural and Sustaining Environment. Healthy Houseplants.com, 2007. Web. August 30, 2016. https://books.google.com/books?id=5-lK-N_rCCYC&dq=indoor+gardening&source=gbs_navlinks_s. 

Burton, Jo. Indoor Gardening & Urban Gardening: Discover How to Create Urban Gardens and master the art of Indoor and Balcony Gardening. Amazon, 2012. Web. August 30, 2016. https://books.google.com/books?id=fFUouW2wqxAC&printsec=frontcover&dq=indoor+gardening&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi---GqoenOAhVE5SYKHfUJCMkQ6AEIQjAE#v=onepage&q=indoor%20gardening&f=false. 

MMK. 25+ Creative DIY Vertical Gardens for your Home. Architecture and Design, 2005. Web. August 30, 2016. http://www.architecturendesign.net/creative-diy-vertical-gardens-for-your-home/

Nickleson, Logan. Everything you need to know about indoor gardening. Tower Garden, 2015. Web. August 30, 2016. http://www.towergarden.com

Vinje, E. Indoor Gardening 101. Planet Natural.com, 2012. Web. August 30, 2016. https://www.planetnatural.com/growing-indoors/

Vertical Vegetable Tower Tutorial

(MMK) https://urbangreenspace.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/how-to-make-a-vertical-strawberry-tube-planter/

Houseplant Pests

https://www.planetnatural.com/pest-problem-solver/houseplant-pests/