How to Start Your Indoor Garden
By Isabelle A.
It’s finally spring time in the Northeast. The birds are chirping, leaves are unfurling, and when you go outside you don’t immediately want to run back inside. As a plant science major, the first thing on my mind when spring comes is, “Ooh, what can I grow?” The past few years, I spent my springs in dorms and apartments, disappointed by my lack of a garden. This spring, I finally have a garden again. I know I’m not the only one itching to grow some plants, but I also know that many of us don’t have access to a garden right now. This is why I’ve been reading gardening magazines and fiddling around with things I found in my kitchen to help us all grow our own plants indoors!
There are many perks of growing your own plants.
Here are a few:
Fresh kitchen herbs to use in recipes
The enormous satisfaction of eating something that you’ve grown
Having cute, little plant babies to take care of when your landlord (or parent) won’t let you get a pet
Finally using some of the millions of plastic containers you’ve saved up over the years
Plants make us happy! (I personally think this is the best reason)
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Now that you know why you should be super excited to grow your own herbs, here are the results of my experimentation!
How to Grow a Garden in your Apartment
When it comes to indoor gardens, the easiest types of plants to grow are small herbs and flowers. Choose your plant(s) and order some seeds. You can order herb and flower seeds online from Burpee or other websites.
Some Good Herbs and Flowers to Start from Seed:
Basil: Likes the sun and hates the cold; look for smaller varieties
Cilantro: Soak the seeds for 24 hours before planting in a tall container (it dislikes being transplanted and needs space for its roots)
Marigold: Loves sun and repels insects
Mint: Also very easy to propagate from cuttings (Note: please do not plant outside unless you want it to take over your yard)
Parsley: Plant in a tall container as it will grow a long taproot
Thyme: Loves sun and will remain fairly short
Viola: Produces adorable flowers and needs plenty of sunlight
When starting seeds, it’s important to look at the info on the seed packet and the website. It’ll tell you how to grow the plants, what conditions they like, and how long the seeds will take to germinate (begin sprouting) so that you know when you should expect growth. If both are lacking in info, Google is your best friend.
You can order seed starting mix or potting mix (MiracleGro is a popular brand) and seeds online. In my experience, potting mix can last for years and is useful to have lying around for repotting and planting. If you don’t have a spray bottle, it isn’t necessary but really does help you water your seeds without displacing them.
Step 1: Poke holes in the bottom of your container using a pen. They should be uniformly distributed.
Step 2:Fill the container with moist seed starting mix, leaving about ½ inch of space between the lid and the soil surface. You want the seed starting mix to be moist enough to form a ball when you squeeze a handful of it in your fist. It shouldn’t be dripping water but should be wet; any mix with peat moss (so basically all potting mixes) will actually repel water when bone dry, which will make it really hard to water your seeds. You can moisten the seed starting mix by pouring some of it into a bowl (about the amount you think you’ll need) and mixing in water a little bit at a time. It can take a while to absorb if the mix is bone dry so be patient.
Step 3: Measure the width of your seeds with a ruler and then mark the end of the pencil at about 2x the width of the seed
Step 4: Poke holes in the soil 2x as deep as the seed width using the pencil and drop in the seeds! Lightly cover them up with a dusting of soil if the hole is less than ¼ inch or by gently pinching the soil shut around them if the hole is deeper.
Step 5: Use the spray bottle to water the seeds in and cover with the lid to keep in the moisture. Put the container in the dish and place it in a nice sunny location.
Step 6: Label your container with the date and the type of plant (i.e. “Basil 4/21”). I like to use painters tape but you can write directly on the containers or use the seed packets if you’ve finished all of the seeds. Check up on your plants at least once a day and when you start to see seedlings coming up with little leaves, you can take off the lid! Keep your seedlings moist by spraying them whenever the seed starting mix starts looking lighter, but don’t let them get totally soggy (seedlings can get a disease called damping off from being too wet all the time).
Step 7: Watch your babies grow!
When they start to get too big for their containers or you can see roots coming out the bottom of the container, carefully remove your plants and use that same seed starting mix to plant them in a bigger container (if you don’t have a garden). You may want to give them a tiny bit of fertilizer every now and then if you plan to keep them in pots for a really long time (mostly fertilize if they start looking unhealthy).
I dug up my basil plants using a pencil to keep the roots intact and planted them in a bigger container. Your plants should be bigger than mine when you transplant them…
Have fun creating your indoor garden!
Share your plant babies on Instagram or Facebook and tag us @anabelsgrocery
My living room garden