If you don’t have access to land, you can still try your hand at growing vegetables and herbs indoors. Jill Vanduyvendyk of Dutch Growers in Saskatoon says gardening can be helpful in easing concerns around food security and is great for mental health.
“Getting to the grocery store might be difficult and if you grow your own food, you know where it came from and how it’s been handled, so that worry is taken out of things,” Vanduyvendyk said. “Gardening is very therapeutic. Seeing something growing and living in your home brings a different light to things.”
Here Vanduyvendyk shares some tips for starting and maintaining an indoor garden.
Evaluate your space
Vanduyvendyk says to start by considering how much room you have: the amount of space will determine what you can grow.
“When it comes to pots, you can use anything that holds soil and has drainage. You can poke holes in the bottom of a pot and place it on a tray,” she says. “Be creative — you don’t need anything fancy!”
Select a sunny spot
For an indoor garden, a south or west-facing window is ideal for the plants to get enough sunlight.
“If you don’t have that, you could also get a full-spectrum grow light. Then, place it close enough to the plant so it’s able to absorb the wavelengths.”
Choose ideal indoor plants
Vanduyvendyk says herbs like basil, oregano and mint work well.
Plants like peppers have a longer growing season and need to be started indoors anyway, so they’re a good option for an indoor garden.
“The determinate variety of tomatoes (that grow to a compact height) does not require any staking or pruning, so it’s a compact plant too. You can get roma, slicer and cherry tomatoes in determinate plants,” she says.
Greens like lettuce, arugula or sprouts also do well inside.
Vanduyvendyk recommends layering the seeds.
“To layer, seed a section, and then wait for it to start growing. Once it’s at a halfway point, seed another section. This will stagger the growing so by the time you cut the first one off, the next one is halfway up and then you can sow another one,” she says. This way, you end up with a cycle of two or three rounds of continual growth.
Watch your watering
Vanduyvendyk says to only mist the seeds when they are germinating, as they don’t need much water.
“Once the plant is growing, the biggest thing people do with indoor gardens is overwater. It’s important that the plants dry out slightly between watering.”
Don’t forget to fertilize
“With indoor plants, the soil is usually a soilless mix (without outdoor garden soil), so there is little to no nutrients in there,” Vanduyvendyk says. “It’s important to fertilize, because plants need food, too, beyond sunlight.”
She recommends using an organic fertilizer and making sure you dilute it a bit when the plant is just starting to grow, as to avoid burning it.
Remember it’s a process
“Gardening is truly something that’s coming back; it’s a bit of a lost art. There are tons of resources online or at a local garden centre that can help you. It’s important to remember that you can’t make a mistake with gardening. Just try it out!”