Indoor gardening during quarantine: what you need to know

It’s refreshing to grow your own fresh herbs, fruits or vegetables in your kitchen. Not only because you eat them, but also because some are natural air purifiers.


Unfortunately, due to social distancing requirements, large communal gardens are not a viable option at this time. Additionally, many city dwellers do not have access to a lot of green space. But that doesn’t mean we can’t install micro-farms on our windowsills, porches, balconies, and fire escapes with the help of a few modern gardening gadgets.

What do you grow?

Your planning begins with your choice of what to grow. Growing herbs, for example, is different from growing greens or flowers. They all have different lighting and water needs. Your choice of pots and grow spots will also be determined by the plants you decide to bring indoors.

If you opt for herbs, your best choices are rosemary, basil, and mint, as they thrive in limited sunlight. However, you cannot grow mint and other herbs together due to their scattered growth patterns.

If you go for the greens, your best option is microgreens. Sprouts don’t grow well indoors, and they harbor bacteria that you don’t want to introduce into your living spaces. Microgreens are great because they’re just as delicious as regular greens (they actually make the best salad and topping for main courses) and they don’t grow too big. Some of your best microgreens options include lettuce, watercress, and spinach. You can hang them from your kitchen ceiling or grow them on your kitchen counter. If you have a large kitchen space, you can grow cabbages in a large pot.

Do you have enough sun?

Little girl in a white summer dress in the garden; image by Maggie My Photo Album, via Pexels.com.

Providing enough water and air for your indoor garden can be challenging, but certainly not as difficult as managing lighting conditions in a confined space. You should therefore pay close attention to the sun requirements of the plants you choose. If they need continuous sunlight, the best thing to do is forget about them and find an alternative. Cacti, succulents and ficus, for example, need at least 6 hours of sunlight a day to be healthy. Don’t bring them indoors unless you have a south-facing window that gets at least 6 hours of intense sunlight a day. Examples of indoor plants that do not require too much light are pothos and Chinese conifers. These will do well in shade or with little indirect light.

If you can’t provide the kind of light your houseplants need from a natural source (by placing them near a window), you can always mimic the sun by installing LED grow lights. Advancements in technology have made it possible to create quality grow lights that provide the full spectrum of light that indoor plants need. You just need to place them near your plants and keep them for half a day, or 16 hours a day if you are growing cacti.

How to start an indoor garden

Now that you know what plants you’re growing and their lighting needs, move on to creating your garden:

  • Prepare your jars (pots) by cleaning them (especially if you use reused containers) and filling the bottom with a small layer of pebbles. These are necessary for good drainage, especially for glass jars. If you’re using plastic jars, you can poke a few drainage holes in the bottom.
  • Fill each jar with compost about ¾ full.
  • Add organic potting soil on top. The soil can be 2 to 3 inches thick and at least an inch below the top of the container. Make sure the surface is smooth. If your soil is not smooth enough, sift it through a mesh screen.
  • Scatter the green micro-seeds of your choice over the surface of the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil.
  • Gently water the seeds using a can of water, then place the pots in a drip tray where they will stay for a few days. Place the drip tray under the grow lights or on the balcony with ample lighting and water them occasionally. Make sure the soil is never too wet or too dry. Continue to do this even after the greens have sprouted.
  • You have a garden now. Remember to water it regularly and provide it with sufficient light.

Conclusion

It’s refreshing to grow your own fresh herbs, fruits or vegetables in your kitchen. Not only because you eat them, but also because some are natural air purifiers. You will save yourself respiratory problems while eating healthy without spending too much.