I made a small, organic, indoor garden this winter, and I am having a great time with the project. We have been adding the rocket to salads and the cilantro to guacamole and tacos for a couple of weeks. Soon enough, the lettuce will be big enough to start using in salads, too.
My indoor garden is in a totally hideous DIY lighting contraption made from materials I had on hand, but it works! You can have an indoor garden adventure, too, by providing for the basic needs of the plants.
You need a big-enough container for the plants, a potting mix/medium to fill the container with, and seeds or little plants to set into the container.
You will need lights and a way to suspend the lights above, but not too far above, the plants. The plants will grow best when the lights are only an inch or two away.
The extras include a saucer or some other shallow basin under the pot to keep excess water from running onto the floor when you water your little garden. Another extra is something like aluminum foil to reflect light back onto your plants, increasing the effectiveness of the lights.
For my indoor garden adventure, the container is a 5-gallon Smart Pot that I was given at a gardening trade show a few years ago. It is deeper than I wanted, but it is the widest container I could in find my supply of nursery-pots. The width was important, because I wanted enough room to plant rocket, cilantro, and lettuce all in the same container.
The saucer under the pot is from a stack kept in reserve, like I keep extra pots, under the house.
I made the potting mix using compost from my backyard compost pile, leftover perlite from a previous project, and peat from a giant bale bought when planting new blueberries. I mixed in ground-up limestone, greensand, and a pre-mixed organic fertilizer (Jobe’s Organic). A bag of organic potting mix bought at a garden center would be similar.
I already had lights, normally used when I start seeds in spring.
A cardboard box holds lights above the plants. Holes in the sides let me slide lights through when the plants were short, and a hole in the top let me lay the lights across the top of the box as the plants got taller.
This has worked surprisingly well.
You probably have a different collection of odds and ends to use in putting together an indoor garden. Making sure you have the parts to fill the basic needs of the plants will go a long way toward indoor garden success.
Some gardeners will prefer to invest in pre-built structures that are more attractive, and this is a good way to go. One of my friends has an Aerogarden that she loves!
However, I like to use materials on hand, as much as possible, before spending money on an activity that might not be one I will continue with for years.
For now, I am loving my DIY indoor garden. It might be time, though, to look for a bigger box.