There truly is something special about watching a garden come alive. There’s a certain excitement and pride of accomplishment in seeing your seeds and plants flourish and grow.
While the appeal of growing outdoors in undeniable, limited space or climate – WINTER, we’re talking about you – just means a little adaptation is needed to enjoy gardening indoors.
Style of Garden
Flower, Vegetable, Herb or Combo
Garden life depends on light, nutrients and water.
In your apartment, you can even grow tomatoes on a windowsill if they get enough light. Just read the specific tag on your plant – some like direct light, some prefer dappled, and other more indirect light.
Partial Sun & Shade
Most plants are happiest when they receive 12 to 16 hours of light per day. If you do not have enough sunlight, or want to keep your plants blooming during the short days of winter, you may need to provide additional lighting.
Grow lights can’t compare to natural sunlight, but may be needed for indoor growth or to extend the growing season.
If using grow lights only, leave them on no longer than 16 hours a day to simulate sunlight, or combine with natural sunlight if possible.
- What types of plants will you be growing?
- Starting seeds requires less light and less height requirement than growing full vegetables
- Many houseplants are fine with just sunlight by a window and don’t need grow lights
- Size: are you just starting seeds, herbs, lettuce, or larger plants?
- Height Clearance: How tall will the plants get? (lettuce vs tomatoes)
- Is this to supplement sunlight or being used exclusively to provide light?
- Will you grow year-round or just start seeds in spring?
- Visual appeal: is this going in your living room or in the basement corner?
- We suggest, no matter how ugly, keep the plants where your kids will see them every day
- Is this countertop or mobile on wheels?
- Cost: going cheap or want to make an investment?
- Power usage
LED LIGHTS – MOST POPULAR FOR HOME USE
GOOSENECK TABLE TOP: EZORKAS
- Full spectrum light
- 4-head light has a 360-degree flexible gooseneck
- Timer setting
- 9 dimmable modes
- Metal clamp
HANGING STYLE: 1000watt KingLED:
- Uses Samsung LED’s
- 3’x3′ vegetable coverage and 2.5’x2.5′ flowering coverage
- Full spectrum light for plants (red, white & blue)
- Cost effective (Average Power Draw: 185W)
- Multiple high-speed mute fans and upgraded aluminum radiators enable the light bulb to work at 50°F to 60°F that is lower than other lamps
- 3 years Professional Service and free return for 90 days
- For smaller production – won’t yield a full garden!
TABLE TOP: AeroGarden
- 45 watt
- Company has been making AeroGardens for 15 years
- Full spectrum light for plants (red, white & blue)
- Adjustable legs to allow height adjustment
- Rotates 360 degrees
- Hanger included if hanging above mature plants requiring more height
Fluorescent (Traditional Style)
Compact Fluorescent Systems
High Intensity Discharge (HID) Bulbs
Indoors & Balcony
Much depends on how much direct sun is available. Many friends successfully grow a surprising amount of vegetables in pots and raised container gardens on a balcony, or a tomato plant in a window.
Choose a pot or bed that allows for drainage (like holes). For example, for windowsill herbs grown in soil, try something like these self watering ones with a large reservoir.
Just be sure to check your local Hardiness Zone for what plants you can grow outside, and also when to put them outside if you live in colder climates (see this article for more details about this and also starting from seed indoors).
Outdoor Garden – Yard or Raised Beds
Container gardening is growing increasingly popular, especially for smaller spaces. There are many local places that offer many styles, or check your local used websites as many offer custom built ones. Here are some examples:
Raised cedar planter style: Has drainage and a liner
Raised bed, self watering with drainage and drainage plug
Herb Garden Style: Separate compartments with liners and a shelf
If planting directly into your yard, using some edging will make your life a little easier. Old boards (make sure they are NOT pressure treated for vegetable gardens, as you don’t want that leeching into your food), old bricks, or plastic edging will all work.
Just watch the sun as it moves through the day and pick the spot with the most sunlight. Again, check your local Hardiness Zone to determine what you can grow, the best time to plant, and if you need some supplies for cold weather protection – see this article if interested.
Starting Seeds: the best option is an organic seed starter mix.
Indoors: When they get big enough, transplant the seedlings into larger pots with a good quality organic potting mix. Note: Do not re-use soil or take some from outside as this can introduce disease or pests.
Outdoors: Transplant into your garden. If you already have good soil, terrific. If not, mix in some good soil available in larger quantities from your local gardening store. If you have compost to add, your plants will love you.
Does your kid like space? Do you not like dirt in the house? Astronauts ate their first lettuce grown in space on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 from the veggie plant growth system! See this Article: Astronaut Gardeners
Pests & Fertilizer
So much depends on whether you grow indoors, outdoors, flowers or vegetables. This may require a little research on your part when needed.
We use organic methods: such as releasing beneficial insects (mantis, ladybugs, lacewings), using diatomaceous earth, and so forth.
There is so much information available on line, or just ask a good gardening center for suggestions.
You may already have some tools around. But, as you well know, kids take more of an interest and have more enthusiasm when they have their own tools. Just decide if you prefer metal & wood or plastic depending on age and potential for injury.
Cute Stone Set 3+ (some parents say their 2 year olds love it)
- Child Sized Wheelbarrow, Watering Can, Gloves, Hand Rake, hand trowel, hand double hoe, cultivator, hedge clippers and washable Apron.
- Plastic (the hedge clippers are plastic), reviews indicate smooth edges
Little Gardener Tool Set (Says for toddlers but more for 4+ per reviews)
- 6 pieces
- Canvas tote, shovel, rake, fork, watering can, kid sized gloves
- Wooden handles
- Metal heads
- Wheelbarrow, gloves, large rake, large shovel, hand hoe, hand fork
- All plastic
How To Books for Kids
Let’s Get Gardening: for kids, step-by-step instructions teaches kids how to grow vegetables. Comes with material lists, tips, little fun projects like bee hotels, and the importance of recycling and caring for wildlife around us.
The Kew Gardens Children’s Cookbook: has step-by-step guides to grow various vegetables in your garden, an allotment, in patio containers or in window boxes. From planting seeds to watering, harvesting, composting, with advice on cooking utensils and healthy diets. Produced in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew.
Kid’s First Gardening: Fantastic: for 5 To 12 year old kids.120 easy-to-follow step-by-step projects, discusses safety, equipment and commonly used terms to how plants grow, general care and sustainable gardening. The chapters discuss everyday techniques, edible treats, flower power, craft projects, wildlife gardening and indoor gardening (including small scale), and has lots of photographs.
How to Books for Parents
We focused on small gardens and indoor gardening. There are SO MANY gardening books out there we are confident you will find the ones you like!
Square Foot Gardening, 3rd Edition: making the best use of small spaces, includes a part on gardening with kids
Gardening Under Lights: The Complete Guide for Indoor Growers: flowers and edibles.
The Vegetable Gardener’s Container Bible: From the blurb: “Harvest tomatoes on a patio, produce a pumpkin in a planter, and grow broccoli on a balcony.” Tips on growing in containers and small spaces.
What To Grow?
- Leafy greens (not head lettuces): moderate light, 60°F/15°C or warmer
- Arugula: moderate light, 60°F/15°C or warmer
- Carrots (they will be tiny but tasty): moderate light, 60°F/15°C or warmer
- Kale: moderate light, 60°F/15°C or warmer
- Microgreens: moderate light, 60°F/15°C or warmer
- Mustard greens: moderate light, 60°F/15°C or warmer
- Peas: moderate light, 60°F/15°C or warmer
- Radishes: moderate light, 60°F/15°C or warmer
- Spinach: moderate light, 60°F/15°C or warmer
- Swiss chard: moderate light, 60°F/15°C or warmer
- Beets, broccoli: greens only: moderate light, 60°F/15°C or warmer
- Herbs: oregano, peppermint, rosemary, sage, mint, thyme (moderate light but prefer full sun, 70°F/20°C)
- Tomatoes (full sun, prefer warmth 70°F/20°C)
- Peppers (full sun, prefer warmth 70°F/20°C)
- Citrus trees | Dwarf varieties (full sun, prefer warmth 70°F/20°C)
Resources and Downloads
The Big Sis