“A garden offers a great many solutions, practical as well as philosophical, to the whole problem of eating well. To the problem of being able to afford high-quality organic produce, the garden offers the most straightforward solution: The food you grow yourself is fresher than any you can buy, and it costs nothing but an hour of two of work each week plus the price of a few packets of seed.” – Michael Pollan
With winter rounding the corner and COVID-19 cases on the rise, now may be a good time to start preparing activities that can be done indoors and can be achieved through your own efforts.
During the first COVID-19 shutdown in March, many found their creativity by baking bread, sewing, making art or music and gardening. The climate in which we find ourselves proves difficult for growing 12 months out of the year, but there may be another, indoor-way to achieve gardening happiness.
People who have been in-to gardening for some time, both indoor and in outside gardens, will tell you that there is nothing like the taste of food you have grown yourself. The hours and time put in have even shown to be stress reducing; something we could all use right no
Creating an indoor garden is one way to lessen stress levels and even the cost of produce. Plants also cleanse your household air. The only negative to an indoor garden is the time taken out of your day to tend to it, but with days getting shorter and seasonal depression on the rise, a garden may be the answer you need. Here are some tips from the Natural Plant Research Center (NPRC) on getting your garden started.
Plants don’t need to take up much space, a windowsill, table or shelf will work well. It is recommended that you set up your garden above tile, linoleum or place a tarp to catch any inevitable water splashes. After finding the new place for your garden, you will want to decide what to grow. You can grow most anything indoors, but the NPRC recommends:
- Salad greens
- Tomatoes, especially cherry types
- Apples of the dwarf variety
When selecting your plants, be mindful of any pets you have. Some plants, like peppers can be toxic to your furry friends. This is also an opportunity to shop local and give back to the community.
Plants will grow best in or near a window as the winter lacks sunlight on some days. Grow lights can be purchased if you feel your garden is not receiving an adequate amount of light. The Natural Plant Research Center suggests the following when picking out a grow light:
- Plants have photo-receptors that absorb specific wavelengths of light. Your light needs to have the same wavelengths as the sun, which is why a regular light bulb doesn’t work.
- The light should be as close to the plant as possible without burning the leaves.
- Most vegetables and other plants do best with 14 to 16 hours of sunlight or simulated light. There are a few ways you can tell if your plant is getting enough light or not. If it isn’t getting enough light, it usually will have small leaves, thin stems, and the color of the plant will be lighter than usual.
- A hormone called “florigen” controls budding and flowering. Long day plants require about 14 to 18 hours of light to produce just the right amount of florigen to flower and reproduce. Short day plants require about 10-13 hours of light. If short day plants are exposed to too much light, florigen can be destroyed, preventing blooming.
Plants grown in containers dry out more quickly than soil grown plants, so they require frequent watering. It is recommended that you use room-temperature water and add enough that the water runs through the drain holes of the pot or container.
Use your finger to check if your plants need to be watered often. Signs of over-watering include wilting, lower leaves dropping, and a stopping of growth. Signs of under watering include wilting along the outer tips of the leaves, dry soil, brown edges along the leaves, leaves and flowers dropping prematurely.
Growing an indoor garden may not cure all your COVID-19 blues but it will give you a project, clean your air and maybe even produce some food.