By Korah Morrison

indoor garden start plants
Photo by Paix120

A garden inside, an unprecedented numbers of people starting one. Why? It is believed that the current economic climate means that people have to live in apartments or homes without gardens and so have one indoors. There are also people who start their garden outside, and then transfer the plants outside when they are lush and green. If you are planning on doing either of these things then you should read on for a few tips.

Harvest your seeds from last year

When your plants and flowers die off, they often dispense seeds. Make sure you save them up and keep them in a cool dry place until next year. Do not buy new seeds every year when your garden (indoors or outdoors) is teaming with them every autumn.

Consider letting your soil dry out before use

Damping-off Disease is the slang name for a fungus that grows in damp soil. It commonly occurs with soil you may buy from stores. People will suggest that you use sterile soil such as the soil you pull from your own garden, but there is little point. The fungus dies if you keep it very dry for a few days. So simply dry off your soil before you use it and your plants will have taken a firm hold before the fungus has chances to return.

Plant seeds with the half full method

There are many ways to plant your seeds, but the most uniform method is to fill your growing trays (or plant pots) half way with soil. You then spray the soil so that it is a little firmer, and arrange your seeds on the top of the soil. Once you have done then you fill the pots/trays with soil up to the top, and gently water them.

Plant seeds in trays and leave in the dark

You need to be organized and play the numbers when you plant seeds. You need to appreciate that many of your seeds will not sprout, and many will die soon after sprouting. Therefore, you need to plant quite a few, and you need to plant them in trays. You may wish to put one seed per plant pot, but your yield will be really low if you do it in such a manner. Your aim is to have as many sprout and grow a little so that you can transfer them into bigger pots. All you need to do is plant lots of seeds in a tray, and put the tray somewhere that is dark but that is room temperature. Also, make sure that the air does not get too cold at night, because frost will kill your plants before they are given a chance to grow.

Use a good moisture retentive soil

The soil you use must be able to hold and retain water. You may have seen it before where you water soil and the water stays on top, or you water the soil and then three hours later it is almost dry. In both cases, you can mix the soil with other ingredients to make it hold its water better. The point is that you recognize when your soil does not retain its water very well so that you can fix it.

Make sure your containers and trays have drainage holes in the bottom

Some people think that having no drainage is okay because the moisture is absorbed by the plant, but the plant needs to have roots running all the way to the bottom in order to do that, and if the roots run all the way to the bottom then it probably needs re-potting. The moisture at the bottom is just going to encourage rotting which will kill your plant.

Use trays to catch your soil water

The water that drains from the bottom of your trays and pots should be caught and poured back into the soil so that any nutrients that were washed away are re-introduced to the soil.

Put aggregate in the bottom of your trays and pots

Even if your plant pots and trays have drainage holes at the bottom, there is still a chance that water will collect at the bottom or that all the nice nutrients are going to congregate at the bottom. Putting small stones (aggregate) at the bottom will help to stop this from happening. Moreover, if you catch the water (as per the tip above) then not only will you replace all of the nutrients you are washing away, you may also pick up a few minerals that were eroded from the stones.

Over watering may lead to rot that kills your plants

This is especially true of younger plants that do not drink as much water as you may think that they do. Quite often the surface will appear very dry, but half an inch down it is soaking wet.

A pinch of limestone is all you need

A sprinkle of limestone in your soil is all you need to stop the PH from going to acidic or to alkaline. Just a little bit of limestone dust mixed into your soil is all you need.

Put your plants outside during warm days and bring in at night

If you are going to transfer your plants outdoors eventually, you must start exposing them to outdoor conditions so that they can toughen up a bit. If they spend all of their time indoors, when you plant them outside, one large rainstorm will flatten them and wash them away.

There is no need for pesticides or fertilizer when growing indoors

Just don’t do it. If you notice that one has greenfly then remove that plant and any other affected plants and plant them in a bare spot in your garden (away from other plants). They will most likely die, but garden bugs may come to the rescue and eat the greenfly for you.

There is no need for fertilizer when growing indoors because the soil you are using is fine, otherwise the plants would not have sprouted. Fertilizer is used outdoors because sometimes the weather and other plants will drain the soil of its nutrients. But this does not happen indoors. If your indoor plants are not sprouting or are sickly, then change your soil instead of using fertilizer.

Keep your plants near a window but beware of overheating

The sun may cook them if you are not careful, and do not spray with water and leave in direct sunlight. The beads of water will sometimes act like little magnifying glasses and will burn your leaves a little.

Mary Forman

Mary is an educator and a parent of three children. She is the author of 7 children's books, loves arts and crafts and teaches parenting classes at Washington Community College.

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