Indoor gardening

indoorgarden3If outdoor gardening is out of the question, try growing your favorite plants indoors. Once you’ve had a salad made with home grown leafy greens and fragrant herbs, you’ll be hooked on indoor gardening.

Best location for your indoor garden

Choosing the right location for an indoor garden is critical. Windowsills are ok if the temperature is fairly constant, but seedlings will produce the strongest roots in consistently warm soil. Choose a place away from household traffic, pets and drafts with an average room temperature not much cooler than 15 – 16 C (about 60F).

A cabinet that will accommodate lighting and allow you to control day and nighttime temperatures is perfect for an indoor garden.


Light requirements

indoorgarden1These are a few ‘nice-to-know’ facts about plants and how they use light.

  • The blue and red wavelengths are most useful to plants for photosynthesis (more about photosynthesis). Plants don’t use the green, they reflect it, which is why they appear green to us (you knew that from science class, right?).
  • Light quality – electric light doesn’t necessarily contain the same mixture of color as sunlight. Cool white fluorescent lights are high in blue but too low in red for efficient photosynthesis. If you’re using cool white fluorescent lights, add incandescent lights that are high in red wavelengths. Specifically designed tubes high in both red and blue are available and widely used in greenhouses.
  • Light intensity – lights should be 2 to 4 inches from the tops of the seedlings and plants should get 12 to 16 hours of light per day. Without the right amount of light, seedlings will develop long thin stems as they reach for the light. An auto-timer will provide a routine of light and dark that plants need.
  • Light duration – day-length is vitally important to whether or not plants will flower, for this reason plants are often categorized as short-day, long-day or day-neutral. In general long-day plants will flower if they get more than 12 hours of sunlight, short-day plants will flower with less than 12 hours and day-neutral plants flower when they reach maturity.
    Examples of short-day plants: popular plants that flower with less than 12 hours sunlight daily are chrysanthemums, poinsettia, kalanchoe, azaleas and begonias.
  • Long-day plants: most garden flowers and vegetables such as spinach, dill, sugar beet, fuchsia, rye-grass and bromegrass all love maximum sun. When they get too little sunlight they tend to become long and lanky.
  • Day-neutral plants: foliage plants, geraniums, coleus and African violet all do well with any amount of sunlight. Many tropical plants and most fruit trees are day-neutral. Tomato, corn, cucumber, dandelions and some strawberries will flower at maturity and are also categorized as day-neutral.


Talk about what you’re growing

A few of the topics at Gardening in Alberta on Facebook: your plans for fall and winter, do you bring your annuals in for winter or save the seeds? When do you start your plants so they’re ready to put out in spring?


Photo credits: microsoft clipart, images from around the net, and PJ Timmermans