Indoor gardening is a good alternative for people living in urban areas or apartments that do not have access to a yard for a traditional garden. Indoor gardens can also provide year-round flowering exotic tropicals. Growing vegetables inside offers the gardener an opportunity to control the environment and produce chemical-free food.
Gardening indoors offers many advantages that an outdoor garden doesn't always have. The precise conditions can be controlled. Light intensity and duration, humidity and temperature can all be fine-tuned to create the optimal conditions for the plants being cultivated. Also, the risk of pests and diseases is limited because it is harder for pathogens to reach the plants. Because of the lack of pests, the fruit produced by indoor gardens is not treated with any type of chemicals or pesticides.
When growing indoors there are many disadvantages. Space can be very limited and the energy used to run artificial lighting can be expensive. In a large space, equipment costs can add up quickly. If there is some type of pest or disease problem, it can quickly infect the entire garden without natural predators to keep them down. Soil and water can be messy and difficult to dispose of indoors.
If there is not enough room in a window or there isn't the right exposure for the plants you want to grow, sometimes supplemental lighting is needed. For large growing spaces or high-light-loving plants, a metal halide or high pressure sodium light might be required. For lower light lovers and smaller spaces, fluorescent lamps or compact fluorescent lamps work well. Incandescent grow lights work for plants grown in darker corners that need some targeted spot lighting. When high power or a lot of lights are used, heat can build up and needs to be evacuated or dispersed.
Regardless of the size of a growing area and the number of plants, watering and waste water have to be considered. With only a few plants, a watering can and a shallow drip tray will work. For a larger indoor garden, a more elaborate watering and drainage system is needed. This can be something as simple as a large drip tray that drains into a bucket or an automated water system on a timer that is connected directly to the water system and drain system.
Fresh-moving air is essential for most plants and can be provided by a fan blowing near, but not directly on the plants. This keeps dead stagnant air pockets from developing around the plants; it also moves heat and humidity, maintaining a more stable growing environment. Air movement aids in the evaporation of any water on the leaves that encourages mold and bacterial infections. Some plants require some air movement to mimic wind and strengthen the stems.