Organic gardening is an excellent way to save money and connect with your food while experiencing the benefits of organic eating. It allows you to better control where your food is coming from– and it’s rewarding to boot. The problem is, not everyone has the outdoor space to accommodate an outdoor garden. If you live in an apartment or simply don’t have a big yard, you may want to consider looking into indoor organic gardens, instead.
An indoor garden can take up as much or as little space as you have to give it. Your garden can be as simple as a couple of containers on your windowsill or as advanced as a grow tent with lights and climate control measures. In short, it can be whatever you want it to be. And all sorts of plants can easily be grown indoors. The only limiting factors are really the space you have available and the amount of time you want to put into maintenance.
If you are considering starting an indoor organic garden, you are in the right place. In this guide, we will explore the supplies you need for various setups, as well as the best indoor plants for beginners. We will also provide tips for caring for your new garden.
What does organic mean?
First, let’s spend a little time understanding what organic gardening actually is. The term “organic” has become a sort of buzzword in recent years. So much of what we buy is labeled as organic, but what does that really mean? And what are the benefits of gardening and eating organically?
Generally speaking, organic means that a product was made without the use of fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals. An organic tomato, for example, was grown in soil without man-made additives. Certain natural and non-toxic substances, such as diatomaceous earth, may be used to control the bug population a bit, but no harsh pesticides are involved.
From a growth standpoint, organic gardening can take a little extra work. This is especially true outdoors, where you need to regularly monitor your garden for signs of unwanted pests. Bugs are less of an issue indoors, but they can still cause problems. It is important to keep an eye out for signs of their presence, such as leaves with bite marks or changes in texture.
Also, because you aren’t using chemical fertilizers, you may need to take other steps to provide added nutrients if your plants require them. Fortunately, there are organic-friendly ways to do this. Compost, for example, can provide natural nutrients to the soil without any chemical additives. I will cover this more later.
By maintaining an organic garden, you can ensure that the fruits and veggies you harvest are free from chemicals. Pesticides and other chemicals used in non-organic gardening have been traced back to cancer and other health issues, especially if your produce is not carefully rinsed before eating. Organic produce is simply more natural.
The specific supplies you need depend on the setup you are looking for. If you are just starting out and want a very basic setup, you may only need a few containers, some soil, and a window that provides adequate sunlight. If your garden will be in a darker space, you may want to invest in a grow light or two. And if you really want to control environmental factors such as heat and humidity, you may even want a full-on grow tent.
Below, we will recommend a few products for various indoor organic garden setups. It’s important to note that you do not need all of these things to get started, however. Your garden can be as simple or advanced as your space and budget allow.
iPower 5-Pack 3 Gallon Grow Bags
Regardless of how and where you are growing your indoor plants, you will need some containers to put them in. Fabric pots, such as these grow bags by iPower, provide excellent drainage and work well for a wide variety of different plants. This particular set comes with five different pots which are available in sizes ranging from three gallons all the way up to 20 gallons. They are heavy-duty and easy movable, as well.
Angtuo Vertical Hanging Garden Planter
If you’re really short on space, you may want to consider a vertical garden. These containers hang on your wall, saving you space. Angtuo’s Vertical Hanging Garden Planter features six different plant pockets made from eco-friendly felt. They are designed to provide good drainage to your plants while saving space in your home. Note, however, that you will need to stick with smaller plants if you are using this type of setup.
Microgreen Pros Organic Microgreen Growing Kit
Many novice indoor gardeners opt to start with something simple and compact such as microgreens. These are usually small batches of herbs and salad greens that do not take up a lot of room or require much effort to grow. This kit from Microgreen Pros has everything you need to start your own microgreen setup, including a wooden planter, soil, microgreen seeds, and a waterproof liner.
Vivosun Mylar Grow Tent
For those who have the space and budget, a grow tent is an excellent way to control a plant’s external environment and receive the biggest yield possible. With a tent, you can monitor and modify temperature and humidity, provide access to grow lights, and use timers to automate the light cycle. Vivosun’s Mylar tent is a budget-friendly option to get you started. This particular tent is 48x24x60 inches and features an observation window so you can check on your plants without having to open the tent.
Feel Show Full Spectrum Grow Lights
Even low-light plants need some amount of light to grow. Of course, sunlight is the cheapest and easiest option, but not every living space has access to copious amounts of sunlight. If you are going to be gardening in a darker room or you live in an area where it’s often cloudy, a grow light may be necessary. This light from Feel Show is actually four lights in one, all situated on a tripod. You can easily adjust the position and intensity of the lights and alternate between three different light modes, depending on the light requirements of your plants.
Best beginner plants to grow indoors
When you’re first starting out with an indoor organic garden, you may want to stick with one or two beginner-friendly plant varieties. Trying too much too soon may get overwhelming, even if you have experience gardening outside. Once you’ve gone through a cycle or two with your starter plants, you can begin to expand your setup, if desired.
Beginner-friendly indoor plants include:
- Bush beans
Another benefit of sticking with one or two plant varieties to start is that it gives you an opportunity to really learn that crop. And, many of the skills you learn will be relevant to other plants you may choose to grow later on.
Tips for your indoor organic garden
Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor gardener or you’ve never touched a plant before in your life, there are a few things to keep in mind as you get started with your new indoor organic garden.
For one, when you first plant your seeds or your starter plants, set aside a bit of time each day to check on and maintain your new garden. As the plants grow you may be able to cut back, but in the beginning, it is important to check the dryness of the soil and to regularly monitor for signs of bugs or health problems. If you notice yellow leaves on your tomato plant, for example, your plant may be over or underwatered, or not receiving adequate sunlight. If you identify the problem early on, you can take steps to fix it before the plant dies.
As your garden is organic, you may also want to begin composting. This environmentally-friendly habit can help provide added nutrients to your soil. Composting may conjure up an image of a large pile of rotting organic matter. Forget that, there are a number of effective and clean ways to compost indoors, including a worm farm or even a Bokashi unit. Place organic food scraps from chopped-up veggies, coffee grounds, and eggshells in the bin and allow them to sit. Over time, this organic matter will break down and you can add it to your soil.
Because you are not using pesticides, you will also need to watch your plants for any signs of bugs. Usually, you will be able to spot them quite easily. If you do notice bugs on your plants, manually remove them and take care to inspect each leaf. You can also use a natural substance such as diatomaceous earth to help kill any insects that are present.
An indoor organic garden is an excellent alternative for those who don’t have access to outdoor space. Whether you have an entire room to dedicate to your new garden or just a windowsill, you can easily grow a variety of fruits and vegetables from the comfort of your own home.