Indoor gardening is suitable for beginners for several reasons. It's contained and doesn't take up too much space, time or money, thus allowing beginners to ease into the hobby gradually. It yields produce all year long without worrying about weather and pests. Planning beforehand enables a beginner to grow plants with successful results.
An indoor garden is comprised of pots and container. Select containers made from a variety of materials, including wood, ceramic, terra-cotta, plastic or clay. Many people initially use seed starter pots or small clay pots and move seedlings to larger containers or planters to provide them room to grow and spread. Make sure each container or pot has drainage holes in its base, or drill 1/2- to 3/4-inch-wide holes. Place the containers on a shelf or table away from foot traffic.
Light and Temperature
Place the containers near a south- or west-facing window so they receive at least four hours of sunlight daily. However, screen the windows with a thin curtain to allow filtered or dappled light to pass through, preventing possible leaf-burn. Supplement poor lighting in the winter with fluorescent grow lights from your local garden supply center. Keep plants in an area where daytime temperature lies between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and reduces up to 10 degrees at night. Use a humidifier in the winter if air is dry.
Good quality, lightweight (porous) potting soil that drains well ensures health and optimal growth of indoor plants. Use commercially available potting soils that contain essential nutrients or make your own using 2 parts potting soil, 1 part organic compost and 1 part perlite or sand. Avoid using garden soil in containers because it's compacted, heavy and impedes proper drainage. Spread a layer of netting, gravel or broken crockery shards over the base of the container before filling it with soil to assist with drainage.
Plant seeds or seedlings. Seeds are cheaper, but take longer to sprout. Follow packet directions for appropriate seed depth and spacing. If planting seedlings, make holes in the soil for each as deep as the root ball, but twice as wide to encourage roots to spread. Space seedlings 3 inches or more apart, and thin if necessary to prevent overcrowding. Backfill the seeds or seedlings with soil.
Although plants have different water requirements, water the plants frequently to ensure the soil is evenly moist at all times. Always water the plants at soil level and not overhead to prevent mold or disease. Never use cold tap water that shocks plants, Make sure water doesn't collect or pool near the base of the plants as that can cause to root rot. Keep in mind that container soils dry out sooner than garden soils, requiring frequent watering.
Most commercial potting soils contain a slow-release fertilizer that feeds plants for up to 90 days. After three months, follow manufacturer's directions for feeding plants a well-balanced fertilizer every month.