GROWING VEGETABLES INDOORS LITERALLY PROMOTES HAPPINESS
Winter can be a difficult season for those of us who are obsessed with gardening as we anticipate the coming growing season. In fact, when we stop growing our own food during the winter many people literally experience negative impacts on our mental and physical wellbeing. Just because it's winter doesn't mean we can't get our hands dirty! Recent studies have confirmed that touching soil literally boosts levels of serotonin, the chemical in our brains that is responsible for maintaining a positive attitude. The bacterium called Mycobacterium Bacchae that lives in soil reacts when in contact with our skin to promote our bodies ability to reduce stress and anxiety. This may explain why many of us associate summer gardening months as a generally joyful time of year. It also serves as reminder of the benefits of growing food year round for our mental and physical health. Especially during cold and flu season our bodies need extra vitamins and minerals to maintain healthy immune systems. Growing a few simple vegetables and herbs indoors can have an immense positive impact on the way we feel and the way we eat.
Growing Food INDOORS IMPROVES NUTRITION
Growing veggies indoors also helps improve our daily eating habits. Winter is a time when our bodies tend to get less physical activity and we intake higher calorie foods. However, studies show that people who grow their own food are more likely to maintain healthier diets year round. Think about it, when there are a fresh array of herbs and greens growing in your kitchen windowsill you will be much more likely to reach for these healthy foods instead of grabbing processed junk foods from your pantry. Many people don't realize just how many beneficial vitamins and minerals are packed into even the smallest amount of home grown organic herbs and veggies! Compared to store bought produce, the nutritional value is up tp 70% higher in organic home grown veggies. Growing food indoors will save you tons of money and require less trips going to the grocery store.
If you want to get prepared ahead of time for your outdoor veggie garden this spring, you may want to start some slower growing fruits and veggies indoors at this time. Here in the US, we are in the heart of winter which is a great time to carefully organize your seed supply, regional planting dates, and plant any starters for crops you want to get a head start on.
Benefits of planting early starters indoors:
Problems to avoid with indoor starters:
FIND REGIONAL PLANTING DATES
The Old Farmers Almanac has a great gardening planting calendar where you can search your zip code to find planting dates for your zone. Click on the button below and enter your gardening area zip code to view your custom seed planting date schedule. The dates are very specific according to plant variety based on age old farming wisdom based on regional weather patterns and moon phases. I grabbed a calendar and scribbled in some key dates to make sure I don't miss any growing time this year!
Back to Eden Gardening is an organic, no-dig, no-till vegetable gardening method that utilizes wood chip compost as a growing medium and arborist wood chips as a sheet mulch. But can Back to Eden Gardening work indoors? Of course!
Back to Eden Gardening indoors may be beneficial for you if live in a climate with harsh winters, want to get a head start on your growing season with starters or lack sufficient space for gardening outdoors. If you already have a backyard Back to Eden Garden started making the transition to growing indoors as well is especially simple!
We recommend using wood chip mulch from arborist tree trimmings to top off your indoor pots and starter containers. This not only improves the moisture retention of your soil, but also deposits beneficial microbes and nutrients into the soil that are very important for indoor starters since they cannot access them otherwise like in the case of outdoor garden soil. Lets get started with the simple tools you'll need to get started!
How to GROW BACK TO EDEN GARDENS INDOORS
1) GROWING CONTAINERS: Buy pots or seed starter containers that allow for sufficient drainage of your soil. Some pots have built in trays to hold the water that drains through when watering. If yours does not, you'll want to purchase a silicon or metal tray to catch the run off. The container size should allow for your veggies roots to grow and should be at least 3-6 inches deep for hot weather crops like tomatoes. If you are planning on transplanting your indoor starters outdoors in the spring, this size container is great. We recommend steering clear of plastic containers containing BPA and chemicals that leach into your soil and food overtime. Stick with ceramic, clay, metal, wood or biodegradable containers. The advantage of biodegradable seed trays for those of you who will be transplanting your starters outdoors is they can help reduce the shock and damage to the root system during transplant. If you can't afford the ideal containers this year you can get ask your local nursery for extra free plastic starter containers. Or if your into DYI you can make your own homemade seed container pots with free materials! If you are planning on growing your plants year round indoors make sure you get a much larger pot, at last 1 gallon. You can even grow some fruit trees likecitrus indoors year round in a large pot located near the window to get adequate filtered sunlight.
2) COMPOST: First, you'll want to fill your indoor growing container with compost. If you have an established Back to Eden Garden you can simply use a hand shovel and scoop some of the composted wood chips from your Back to Eden garden into your pots! If you have access to other homemade compost from veggie scraps or manure you can also use this as your growing medium. Fill your containers only about 85 %, leaving a little space on top. You'll see why in the next steps. Wood chip compost is a great growing medium not only because it's easy to access for free, it's loaded with nutrients but it's also thriving with beneficial microorganisms that are essential for healthy soil. When you buy sterile bagged compost it does not compare to the amount of seed growth stimulation that homemade wood chip compost offers. If you have a pile or deep layer of wood chips that has been sitting outside for 3 months or more you can also use a compost sifter screen to filter out beautiful compost from the larger wood chips!
If your wood chips have not composted fully into dark rich soil or you don't have a backyard garden to harvest compost from we recommend you buy organic vegetable potting soil. We also recommend investing in beneficial Soil Microbes to add to your soil occasionally. Beneficial microbes stimulate healthy soil and better root growth in plants. The microbe fungi actually form a symbiotic relationship with the plant. They can be especially helpful to add to any indoor gardens or pots since indoor potting soil does not contain enough beneficial microorganisms. I have added microbes to all of my indoor edible plants soil and it makes a huge difference. Living soil is vital for healthy plant growth!
3) LOCATION, LIGHT & WARMTH: Seeds need sunlight to germinate. If you have a window sill with plenty of direct or indirect sunlight this works great for many indoor veggies. If you do not have a location with enough natural light, consider purchasing a full spectrum LED grow light. It's worth the investment and quickly pays itself off with the food you'll grow year round. You will also be able to extend your growing season. Also consider the temperature of your indoor veggie garden location. Most indoor veggies like to grow at 60°F/15°C or 70°F/20°C temperature range consistently. If you keep your home nice and toasty over the winter most starters will be ok without additional temperature control. Using an indoor seedling heating mat will help if your home is too cold.
Alternatively, if you are in an area with lots of sunlight year round outdoors but don't have a good location indoors to set up a grow light or access indirect light from windows then a greenhouse may be better fit for you to grow your vegetable starters in during the colder months.
4) PLANT SEEDS & WATER: Plant your seeds closer to the surface of the soil, just below the compost for best results. Soak them in water overnight for an extra growing boost. Water the seeds daily until they sprout. Always ensure your soil is damp but do NOT overwater. Especially once your plants are established their roots will help them draw moisture from the soil and they will require less watering. In fact one of the top causes of failed indoor plants is overwatering causing root rot. Consider a metal watering can to make your indoor watering easier and avoid a splashing mess.
5) WOOD CHIP MULCH: This step is really what makes the Back to Eden Gardening indoor growing method the most unique and leads to better results. Once the seeds sprout and get a few inches tall, add a light layer of wood chip mulch from your garden to the surface of the compost. If you are growing indoor trees or established perennial plants you can be much more generous with the amount of wood chip mulch on top. When you add wood chip mulch to baby starter plants be careful to only add a light layer to not suffocate seeds. It's best if you can add screened wood chips on top for a more delicate covering. The wood chips will help retain moisture, maintain soil warmth, build healthy soil and deposit nutrients into your soil that help the plants grow. Keep your wood chip layer light, just a dusting. Don't smother sprouts! Wait until they show are least two leaves to dust the soil surface with mulch.
6) FERTILIZE: Seedlings aren't able to absorb nutrients until they have a second set of leaves called the "true leaves." Get to know the fertilization needs of your indoor plants and starters. Some vegetables require more nitrogen to stimulate their initial growth while others can survive without any additional input. The best choice at this stage is to give plants an organic, diluted, balanced, liquid fertilizer, so that the plant receives overall nutrition. Once plants are larger and transplanted, start applying a more focused fertilizer (except potassium at transplant). For starters like tomatoes and peppers we you can add an organic diluted fertilizer every few weeks to help their initial growth. However, the compost you are growing in is so rich in nutrients that it will not need much help like normal indoor plants in potting soil would! In fact, in healthy Back to Eden wood chip compost you won't need fertilizer. It's just a bonus if you have access to it.
Some varieties of seeds don't do as well when started for transplant compared to being direct sowed. Although any of these varieties are possible to grow and transplant, these may have a more difficult time with the transition and be more susceptible to transplant shock.
easiest indoor GARDEN veggies
Even if you decide to wait to direct sow all your seeds in the spring and you don’t want to bother with any starters indoors you may want to consider growing some of the easiest edible plants and herbs indoors for year-round access. This part of the article will teach you how to grow the easiest veggies indoors using the Back to Eden Gardening principles!
7. Mushrooms Mushrooms also make the top list of easiest and most nutritionally beneficial foods you can grow indoors year round. They don’t require a lot of space or light to grow prolifically. They like to grow in environments with sufficient moisture. Plus they are packed with disease-fighting vitamins and minerals that you can’t find comparably in most other foods! Fungi grow from spores, not seeds so so keep them from getting contaminated by other fungi spores. You can opt to grow mushrooms easily in starter bags and even use the excess spore growing medium to start a mushroom bed outdoors. Shiitake mushrooms are one of the easiest edible varieties to grow for beginners.
TIPS FOR GROWING VEGGIES INDOORS:
Light: Ensure your plants have access to plenty of natural sunlight by setting them near a window. If you invest in agrow light you can grow almost anything indoors!
Soil: Use an Organic Potting Mix for Veggies with bagged Organic Mulch on the Surface or a Scoop of Composted Wood Chips from your outdoor Back to Eden Garden.
Drainage & Air Circulation: Ensure the containers you grow your veggies in allow for plenty of water drainage and air circulation. If you over water or the water cannot drain from the container your plants roots may rot. Drainage holes or proper indoor growing containers will allow air circulation and present mold and fungus.
Temperature: Most indoor veggies like to grow at 60°F/15°C or 70°F/20°C temperature range consistently. Using an indoor seedling heating mat will help if your home is too cold.
Fertilizer: Just like us, indoor plants like to be fed regularly in order to thrive! Use an organic, odor free fertilizer to add every few weeks as needed. Alternatively, add homemade compost.
Indoor GardenING KITS with GROW LIGHTs
If you don't have enough natural sunlight in your home for growing veggies indoors you may need to consider using a full spectrum LED grow light starter kit to start your garden indoors. Oh yeah, they are also self watering too! If you or someone you know doesn't have such an indoor gardening green thumb, this can be a helpful modern tool to ensure success without stress or work. Although my first impression of these was that I would not personally buy one of these, I can see how for beginner gardeners, gifting or urban growers that these could be a great option to get started.
Indoor Grow Light Garden Kits make growing your own food and herbs indoors easy. Their kits contain everything you need to get started with an indoor garden from the seeds and soil pods to the full spectrum light and easy self watering pot design. The plastic containers are also BPA Free.
For Back to Eden Gardeners we suggest a few upgrades to your Click & Grow system for better results. First, we recommend replacing the soil pods with Back to Eden wood chip compost from your garden beds outside. Also consider purchasing your own organic, heirloom seeds to supplement the seeds included. Remember to reference the herbs, greens and fruits list above to choose the seeds that will grow best indoors.
If you don't a self watering grow light kit like above you can opt for a full spectrum grow light that you can set up your own indoor veggie growing space with. If you are serious about growing a wider variety of food indoors during the winter than the varieties on the easy list above, you will probably want a grow light and heating mat.
INDOOR PLANTS MAKE A HAPPIER FAMILY HOME
Many of us are spending more time at home together this year than ever. Especially during uncertain and stressful times, it's important we do whatever we can to maintain good vibes in our homes. Growing food indoors is a great interactive experience for families of all ages. Watering and watching sprouts grow will keep your kids entertained, educated and inspire curiosity about trying new foods. Spending more time indoors together also means the parents are needing to make more of an effort to maintain a healthy and inviting indoor living environment for their families. Growing plants indoors actually helps purify and improve indoor air quality by releasing oxygen and therapeutic herbal aromas into your home. It also adds an attractive interior accent of color that triggers our brains endorphins and adds vibrance to any interior decor.
Many gardeners have never tried to grow food indoors during the winter months because they imagine it will be too difficult, or too messy. That's why we are sharing the easiest veggies to grow indoors with less work and no mess. We believe that you and your family will enjoy a successful harvest and experience the mental and physical health benefits of gardening indoors!
Benefits of Growing Vegetables Indoors: