Indoor Gardens

Improvements in plant lighting have helped indoor gardens grow by leaps and bounds. Today it’s possible to produce large quantities of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, succulents and all kinds of beautiful flowers in your own home all year round! Here, we discuss the latest tips and information related to grow lights and hydroponics to houseplants and plant propagation.

Have a question? Visit our Indoor Garden Forum to search existing messages for answers or post a new message for others to reply to.

Growing Culinary Herbs Indoors

Growing Herbs IndoorsGrowing basil and other herbs through the winter under lights is easy. Here’s how.

By Bill Kohlhaase, Planet Natural

There are plentiful reasons to grow herbs indoors: basil pesto, rosemary chicken, maple and marjoram-roasted turkey, fresh oregano pizza sauce, tarragon salmon, cilantro-flavored salsas and spicy chive dip. The rise of gourmet home cooking as well as the popularity of fresh, home-raised and locally-grown foods has increased demands for fresh herbs. Why not grow your own, year `round? With modern advances in grow lights, growing mediums and self-contained hydroponic systems, raising herbs inside a small corner of your home can add year-round flavors, scents, even profits to your life. (more…)

Get Started With Aquaponics

Backyard Aquaponics SystemGrowing vegetables and raising fish in a sustainable garden system.

Indoor and backyard aquaponics combines the craft of hydroponic growing with aquaculture, the art of keeping fish. The water in which the fish live, along with the fish-produced waste, eventually ends up nourishing garden plants. It’s then recycled to the fish tank. The plants get the nutrients they need and the fish get fresh, recycled water.

In return, the savvy gardener gets organic vegetables for salads and fish for the grill.

This is the simplistic explanation of aquaponics gardening. In practice, it’s a balancing act that supports all its living components, including the microscopic life that facilitates the natural conversion of fish-produced waste into usable, beneficial nutrients for plants. (more…)

Green House Buyer’s Guide

Backyard GreenhouseWhat frame and coverings to consider when buying a greenhouse kit.

Gardeners view green houses as a dream or a necessity, the latter by those who already have them, the former by those who wish they did. A greenhouse serves many functions and grants many advantages. It’s a place to give seedlings a jump start ahead of the growing season, a place to raise plants, including everything from tomatoes to lemons, that won’t find the growing season they require outdoors. It’s a place to overwinter potted plants and extend the vegetable harvest well past the first (and second, and third) frost. A green house can add immensely to your enjoyment of gardening and its rewards. (more…)

Neem Benefits

Neem SeedsHow to use neem oil and its extracts to stop most insect pests organically.

Neem oil, one of nature’s best ways to deal with problem insects, is pressed from the fruits, seeds and bark of an evergreen tree (Azadiracta indica) that grows in South Asia, especially India, and parts of Africa. The tree’s oil, known in Sanskrit as Sarva Roga Nirvani or “cure of all ailments,” has a long history of skin-care and medicinal uses. Because of its nourishing, acne-fighting qualities, it’s often found in specialty soaps and other modern skin products. (more…)

Old Malls Grow Green

Rooftop FarmingRoof-top farms and green-house gardens help reclaim agricultural land from urban sprawl.

All those big malls that were built in the 1970s and 1980s? You know, the kind that had a big anchor store or two and many, many often smaller retails outlets, a multi-plex movie house, and a food court?  They’re beginning to close — completely — in growing numbers.

Some two-dozen have closed across the country since 2010 says the mall tracking group Green Street Advisors. Robin Lewis, co-author of The New Rules of Retailing, has predicted that at least 30% of the behemoth retail complexes will close in the near future.  What to do with all that empty space? (more…)

Gearing Up For Starting Garden Seed

Growing SeedlingsNow’s the time to gather up what you’ll need for growing vegetable and flower seeds indoors.

We’ve been browsing through the seed catalogs that are trickling in, not all of them in the mail, and scribbling down names of some new choices we might try. Our big annual order, full of old favorites, will get sent in a couple weeks. But seeds aren’t the only thing we’ll need.

While we consider which seeds to order, we also take stock of what we’ll need to get them growing. We’ve talked a lot in the past about ways to keep your starts healthy and from getting too leggy. And those things are important. (more…)

Winter Houseplant Care: Balanced Conditions

Indoor Succulent PlantConsider the inter-relationship of light, water, humidity, and temperature when growing indoors.

A friend of this column called in to a relate a sad houseplant tale, one that points out the importance of knowing all aspects of houseplant care.

In winter, most plants are dormant and should be treated accordingly. That means equal attention to each aspect of your indoor plants, including so little water as to keep them dormant, and how those aspects affect one another. How many of us have put a favorite plant (in my case, it was an old, reliable rosemary) in a south-facing window for the cold season only to see it wither because of temperature fluctuations and lack of humidity? (more…)

Bring the Kitchen Garden Indoors

Indoor Kitchen GardeningGrowing herbs, greens and sprouts inside during winter months.

Like a lot of gardeners, your friendly, year-round Planet Natural blogger likes to keep the harvest going even when the snow flies. That often means growing a few things indoors. Elizabeth Millard’s new book Indoor Kitchen Gardening: Turn Your Home Into a Year-Round Vegetable Garden (Cool Springs Press) makes an argument for growing vegetables indoors 12-months a year.

Millard doesn’t just do the easy stuff that lots of us do, like grow sprouts in jars and herbs in pots on the windowsill. She wants us to broaden our horizons with pea and popcorn shoots, wheat grass and mushrooms. She has chapters on indoor growing of potatoes, beets, chile peppers and other crops that most of us would rather tackle during the outdoor growing season. In short, she’s an enthusiast.

We like her style when growing something like chard, kale, or lettuce. She treats everything like a house plant. Everything gets its own pot and everything serves double, decorative duty. You might enjoy eating the modest amount of greens you can grow in a standard pot in a single sitting, but you’ll enjoy the presence of healthy growing greens for days on end. (more…)

Vegetables Not To Start Indoors . . .

Directly Sown Seeds. . . and why (plus how) to raise these plants indoors anyway.

Your friendly, impatient Planet Natural Blogger has a hard time waiting for the ideal time to start seeds, especially those that do best when directly sown in the garden. We’ve all heard how some vegetables shouldn’t be started indoors. Peas, beans, corn, and most definitely root vegetables (carrots, beets, turnips, and the like) do best planted right in the ground where you want them to grow. Starting them indoors can be a frustrating waste of time. And for different reasons.

Peas and bean germinate and grow well indoors. But transplanting sets them back. Plant some peas in your garden on the same day you transplant the peas you started indoors and within a month or less, the direct-sown peas have caught up with, even overtaken, the transplanted peas. Same with beans. (more…)

Starting Annual Flowers Indoors

Annual FlowersRaising your own flowering annuals gives you variety, costs savings, and home-grown quality.

Why would your start your own flowering annuals from seed when they’re readily available as starts at nurseries and big box stores? The answer is cost, selection, and quality.

Sure you can find marigolds and other common annuals as ready-to-plant starts. And they’re relatively inexpensive if you’re just growing a few here and there. But if you’re looking for unusual annuals, either heirlooms or strains of favorites that you can’t get just anywhere, well, then, you’ll have to start them yourself. And if you’re using annuals as borders, say along sidewalks, or filling an entire garden bed with color, then you’ll need a lot of starts and suddenly the cost of those individual plants start to add up. A packet or two that contain enough seed for your needs? Probably $5 or less (more…)

Tips For Indoor Seed Starting

Starting SeedsMoisture control, proper containers, and good starting mix are key to germinating seeds.

We’re smack dab in the middle of the seed starting season, or maybe just getting ready to start in more northern climes. It seems like a good time to review some tips for germinating seeds and growing seedlings indoors ahead of outdoor planting. And while the basics of seed starting are pretty simple, there are always some tried-and-true tricks as well as some timely reminders to make your seed starting experience a worthwhile one. First time seed starter or someone who just wants to review the basics? Try here.

Most Important: The one thing we’ve found to be most important among many important things when starting seeds indoors? Moisture control. This means not only controlling the moisture in your starting mix, but providing the proper drainage. And, in the circular, everything-is-related-to-everything-else world of gardening, this means using the right starting mix. (more…)

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