The key to a healthy diet is always having healthy options on hand for when hunger strikes. Think about it, who would not want fresh strawberries to top an otherwise boring salad if they were growing nearby. No matter where you live, you have an opportunity to create a garden full of fruits, veggies and herbs. Whether you live in a high rise without a balcony, a condo with limited outdoor space or a home with a backyard overcome by dogs and children’s toys, there is a gardening option for you.
An indoor garden is a great option for winter months when you cannot grow outdoors or if you do not have an outdoor space. There are a couple of things you will have to keep in mind: space, sunlight and humidity.
Space – Your indoor garden can be as big or small as you choose and should be close to a window that can provide unfiltered sunlight. For a small garden, a window sill or table work well. For a larger garden, you will want to use an easy to clean floor surface. Dirt and water will leak and spill.
Sunlight – All plants need sunlight for photosynthesis, but sometimes just having them near a window may not be enough especially during the winter months. A grow light can help ensure your garden is a success.
Humidity – Your plants will not likely mind slight temperature changes in your home (between 5 and 10 degrees), but one thing to look out for is the lack of humidity in the air. If your plant is shedding leaves or if its leaves are dried and withered, a lack of humidity could be the issue. Misting your plants daily, moving them close together to create a micro-environment or introducing a humidifier help provide the moisture in the air your plants need.
Plant size is the biggest limitation for an indoor garden. You don’t want the plants to overtake your space. Just about any herb will work in an indoor garden. Some recommended fruits and veggies are tomatoes, kale, peppers, onions, strawberries and blueberries.
Raised box garden
A raised box garden is perfect if you have front or backyard space. They are also great if you have issues bending over to weed or harvest, because you can actually build them taller so that they are waist height. Additionally, you do not have to worry about poor soil or compacted soil, because you are going to bring in your own.
Construction – Building a raised box garden is pretty easy if you choose to do it yourself. Use a rot resistant wood like cedar or redwood and be sure to place a barrier cloth on the bottom of the bed to keep out pests. Fill the bed with about 6 inches of nutrient rich soil and let the planting begin.
Orientation – Your garden should be in full sun and it is ideal to orient it so that it is north to south. This will give it max sunlight throughout the day.
Organization – Planting in rows limits how much you can grow and produce. Raised box gardens lend well to intensive gardening by which you plant different crops close together. Aside from gaining space in the garden, some plants can actually benefit from growing near other species. It allows you to harvest a section of ripe vegetables and then plant a new variety in its space depending on the season of harvest.
Small outdoor space
The sky (or awning) is the limit when starting a balcony or patio garden. Literally, you want to think about vertical growth, vertical planters and container clustering.
Vertical growers – The best plants to grow are those that grow on vines like strawberries or plants that grow vertically like chives, peppers or tomatoes. You are not limited to those types of plants, however. Even some fruit trees like peach, cherry, apple and pear can grow well in large terracotta pots if you select the dwarf species.
Vertical planters – There are all types of decorative planters that mount to walls and fences or that can be hung from railings. There are even multi-pocket fabric wall planters that include drainage systems designed for vertical gardens. Window boxes and hanging baskets can also help with space limitations.
Container clustering – If you choose not to take a vertical approach, another option is container clustering. Place containers of various sizes and heights in one corner of your space at different levels to give some dimension and depth to the space. Not only will it be beautiful, but when you cluster plants together they create a more humid mini climate which helps the plants stays hydrated.