Circumstances sometimes dictate where you can live. Maybe you don’t have much outdoor space, but you have plenty of space indoors for a garden. Or your small apartment or condominium can use a dash of green to liven it up.
If so, why not start microgrowing?
What is microgrowing?
Microgrowing is like regular gardening, but on a smaller scale. It often involves planting plants in individual pots, but it can be done in trays too. In essence, it’s like having a miniature indoor garden. Brentwood Square Inc says microgrowing is perfect for places that may not have an expansive yard for gardening, such as small homes, apartments, and condominiums. It may also be practiced by larger houses who wish bring some of the greenery inside.
What plants can you microgrow?
You can microgrow just about any edible plant indoors under the right conditions. Tomatoes, carrots and alfalfa or bean sprouts are just a few that you can grow in your place. Ginger or chili peppers are some more you could grow inside in micro quantities. Some people even grow cannabis indoors, depending on the laws and growing licenses in their jurisdiction. Some of the best edible plants to grow indoors, however, are green leafy vegetables. They require the least amount of space of most vegetables you could raise indoors.
How do you microgrow plants?
1. Research amount of space for each plant
Every plant needs its own amount of space. For instance, tomatoes require 18-24 inches of dirt area around them as they grow. They also need 12 inches of dirt for the roots as they form. For carrots, you can grow them closer together, even grouping seeds only about one inch apart. They only need to be buried in about one-quarter to one-half inch of dirt. You will, however, need to make sure you make room for the carrot root to grow. Therefore, you will need about 12 inches of dirt beneath the carrot seeds you plant.
Make sure you look up the space each plant requires around it and underneath it. Then, measure that up against the space you have to grow your plants. Remember, you also may need at least a couple of feet to several feet above your plants. On the other hand, you can grow herbs on shelving units because most of them only reach about a foot high. Regarding the growth of microgreens, that’s recommended for microgarding because they’re short. Their roots only reach an average maximum of four inches below the surface and about four to six inches above the surface.
2. Learn how much light, water and dirt they need
If your plants don’t need much light, you can put them in a closet. Then, you could maybe add a growing light set to emit the amount of illumination required for that plant to thrive. For example, potatoes only require about six hours of light. Other plants, such as sunflowers, lavender, and aloe vera require full sun. Most vegetables only need about six to eight hours of sunlight. As far as the brightness of growing lights, plan for about 93 lumens per watt. The sun does have far more lumens than the average growing lamp, but it’s further away.
You don’t need a growing light as bright as the sun, and that’s impossible anyway. You can get away with about 2,300-3,000 lumens of light for producing vegetables indoors. For planning how much water your plants need, the amount varies. As the dirt begins to feel dry, add just a little bit more water. As far as deciding how much dirt you need, check the package of the supply you buy. It may tell you approximately how many plants of a certain size you can use it for. Bigger plants, such as tomatoes or green bell peppers, probably would require at least five pounds of dirt. As your veggies grow, they may require a transplant later, so keep that in mind.
3. Designate a space for growing
Just like you would for setting up an outdoor garden with limited space, start small. Maybe start herb seedlings in small, cup-sized pots and see how those work out. You can also allow vegetable seeds to germinate in small pots. If they start to form leaves on them, there’s a good chance that they will grow in larger vessels once you transplant them.
In any case, designating your space for microgardening indoors will require some thought. You may not get this right the first time, but at least have an idea of how many you can fit in an area. For instance, maybe you have a section below a bedroom window where you can place some plants. Otherwise, you could perhaps put other plants that don’t require much light in a corner.
4. Gather the right size containers for growing
Ideally, you should determine the size of containers you need when planning where you will grow. Maybe you can even set up empty pots, old plastic food or storage containers, and even in discarded shopping bags in your growing area. One-gallon ice cream buckets and five-gallon painting pails also make excellent gardening vessels for indoor microgrowing. Use these for the veggies and herbs that require the most dirt underneath the surface – not when planting but when plants are fully grown.
5. Gather other growing supplies
For advanced indoor gardening, you might want to have a groundwater tester on hand. Other supplies you may need include strings, stakes or labels to hold up your plants. In addition, you will need some small shovels and fertilizer. To know what supplies you need, make sure you plan according to instructions for each specific plant. For instance, beans may require a piece of a trellis or a wire fence.
6. Start planting
Planting shouldn’t be difficult once you have designated space for your plants. To start, it may be wise to try cultivating one edible herb, veggie and fruit plant per pot. Later, you may become more adept at tray gardening without the need to move and transplant so much.
7. Give your plants enough water
Some plants may need water every few days. Others will require it about once a week. It depends, but keep checking the leaves and the soil to make sure they’re “drinking” enough.
8. Examine plant health
Probe the soil every once in a while to see if it does have moisture in it. This will ensure that the roots do absorb water the way they should. If the soil is drenched, that plant may not have healthy roots or needs drainage holes cut in the bottom of it.
9. Prune and transplant if necessary
Seeing brown leaves doesn’t mean a plant is dying. It just happens sometimes as a plant matures. Prune those leaves and stems, and continue to monitor the soil quality. New leaves will regrow, and new stems may produce healthy fruits and vegetables. Transplanting also helps provide additional room for plants to grow. You can also move plants grown in individual pots further away from you as the foliage on them grows thicker.
9. Enjoy the harvest
In about six to eight weeks, you will begin to see signs of edible fruits and veggies on your plants. Others, such as pumpkins or squash, may take longer. The plants that take the shortest amount of time to grow are the green leaf ones. That’s good news because it will give you a year-round supply of lettuce for your salads. Enjoy!