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Indoor gardening for city slickers
Made in the shade
Fruit-bearing plants require a lot of sunlight but salad greens, including spinach, lettuce and miniature cabbages, require less sun and can do well indoors.
It’ll be all right in the light
While artificial lighting is always an option, and less expensive kits can be obtained from some specialty shops, if you would rather keep it natural, you’ve got to see the light!
Think north side. Place plants near a window on the north side of your home or apartment and they should receive the best of the sun throughout the day. However,, be sure they are tolerant to hot sun, if not move back from direct sun-strike. Try and find a location where plants will benefit from around five hours of sunlight.
Drink, not drunk
It may seem like stating the obvious but it doesn’t rain indoors! For this reason it’s easier to regulate exactly how much water plants receive. Remember, too much water and roots will rot; too little and they will dry out. Too much water can also starve plants of oxygen by forcing air from around the roots.
There are no hard and fast rules as to how much water indoor plants need, although container-raised plants will generally need to be watered more frequently. Check the soil; if it’s dry a little water could work wonders, if it’s damp, say ‘when’!
When selecting good candidates for your indoor garden, get to the root of the matter! Radishes, onions and other crops with smaller roots won’t need a great deal of space in which to grow. Miniature tomatoes and peppers also need little room.
Herbs are an obvious addition to your outdoors-in garden. Provided they receive plenty of sunlight, these window box wonders won’t take up too much space and will add a little spice to your life. As vegetables can be easily damaged, try and keep them away from busy areas of the home.
Gone to pot
Remember, fertilizer, with nowhere else to go, can accumulate in pots or containers. Potting mix suitable for indoor gardening is available from your local garden centre and should contain the correct quantity of fertiliser. As with all other houseplants, vegetables grown indoors will need free draining soil. Remember to repot with fresh soild/mix from time to time.
Beat the heat
Some rooms of your home, such as the kitchen, can experience higher temperatures than others. Test room temperatures before deciding what to plant where in order to ensure optimum indoor growth.
A common problem plants experience when grown indoors is a lack of humidity. As plants typically grow better with higher humidity and moderate temperatures, try turning down the heat. The more artificial heat you use, the dryer the air will become. Consider placing plants in your kitchen or bathroom where steam from uncovered pots or the shower will increase humidity in the room.
Best those pests
Although not exposed to the elements, indoor plants can still be bugged by pests. You can spray your plants with insect sprays but take them outside first. Also do not spray vegetable plants close to harvest.
Bust the dust
With no wind to shake those darling buds, you will need to pamper indoor plants a little more. Wipe leaves once a month or so and take them outside and hose them down on an annual basis. Indoor gardening can be a very rewarding hobby, providing food for your table all year round.
For tips regarding how to make the most of a small outdoor garden, be sure to check out our article ‘A sense of space '.