3 Things to Keep in Mind When Starting an Indoor Garden

You have decided to start a fall gardening project in your home, and you know what you want to grow. What do you do now? The hardest part to setting up your indoor garden is to figure out what it requires to succeed.

Before you rush out and buy a bunch of gardening equipment for your indoor garden, it’s always wise to proactively troubleshoot a few of the most common problems, in order to ensure the overall long-term success of your garden. From proper lighting and ventilation, to assessing whether you have enough space, let’s take a look at what can do to give your plants what they need to bloom and grow. Follow our beginners guide to setting up a basic indoor garden on a budget.

Size of Your Gardening Space

First, assess the size of your space. Large rooms need a lot of lights with a powerful system for ventilation. Small rooms need fewer lights with less energy devoted to ventilation. Measure the dimensions of your room to give you a better idea of what you will need. A room that measures 18 feet wide, 12 feet long would be considered spacious.

Next, you must think about your budget and how much experience you have growing plants. If you are fairly new to urban or indoor gardening, you may not want to fill the entire room with plants until you have a little more experience. Instead of jumping straight into buying a bunch of gardening equipment, start off with a smaller project and measure your overall success. Once you feel more comfortable, proceed on with more plants. The last thing anybody wants is to spend a bunch of time and money on an indoor garden, only to see your plants die before you can harvest.

Now that you have the size of your gardening space established, section-off part of the room so that you have a space that is at least 8 feet wide and 12 feet long. This is a manageable working space for a novice. Granted, sectioning the room is an additional effort and expense. However, creating a smaller space within the room gives you more complete control of the environment in your garden. Line the sectioned area with reflective sheeting so that you get the most out of your lighting. If you do not feel confident installing a temporary partition on your own, buy an indoor grow tent to drape from the ceiling.

Lighting Your Indoor Garden

Without a doubt, high-intensity discharge light is the most popular light source for indoor gardens. It is reasonably priced, available at most home improvement stores and generates consistent results.

The most common wattages for indoor garden lighting are 400, 600 and 1000. A 1000-watt bulb works well for 4 to 5 square feet; 600 watts work for 3 to 4 square feet, and 400-watt bulbs work for 2 to 3 square feet. Buy the lights that best suit your needs; “more” is not necessarily “better.”

Additionally, remember that a more powerful light needs to hang higher above the tops of your plants to avoid harming them. The 1000-watt lights work with our 8-foot ceilings as long as your plants are no taller than 5 feet. Because you need short, broad indoor plants to maximize the use of the light for this project, this is not a problem.

Consider your spacing as well. Plants need plenty of room in order to make use of the light. It would not be wise to jam your room full of plants. Instead, leave plenty of space in your indoor garden to maneuver. In the 8×12 foot room of this example, you would want to use two 1000-watt bulbs.

Addressing Ventilation

For an indoor garden, ventilation consists of two factors: removing warm waste air and adding fresh, cooler air. The extractor fan draws out the hot air. To determine the size of the extractor fan you need, find the volume of the growing area and multiply it by 1.25.

For example, the dimensions of your room is 8 feet wide, 4 feet long and 8 feet high, which totals 256 cubic feet. Multiply that by 1.25, and you end up with a result of 320 cubic feet. If you are wondering why the length is 4 instead of 12, you only use the active area beneath the light, not your maneuvering room. When you shop for an extractor fan, make sure that the CFM rating is at least 320 if your space measures the same as this example. If you buy a fan with a lesser rating, it is forced to work at full capacity all the time. The higher rating makes sure the fan is able to handle the job.

With the waste air removed, it is time to add the fresh air. There are two ways to do this: installing active intake fans that push air into your garden or making passive vents to allow fresh air to enter. If you choose passive vents, make sure that enough fresh air exists outside the growing area to accommodate your needs. This sometimes means that you have to leave open a window or two; keep temperature in mind since you are dealing with a cooler outdoor climate. If you do use passive vents, make sure that they are three times the surface area of the outlet for the extractor fan.

Because active intake fans are often more efficient at bringing in fresh air than passive vents, many people opt to install them. However, individual needs vary. If the fall gets cold in your part of the world, drawing air from another room in the house often works better than bringing in chilly outdoor air. This is especially important when the weather turns freezing. Whatever option you choose, make sure that you add less air than the extractor removes to create a negative pressure that sends all exiting air through the carbon filter of the extractor fan.

Indoor Gardening & You

With just a little experience, you can make your cold-weather oasis a thriving, vibrant source of green during the bleak months of winter. If you’re wanting to create an urban garden for this fall but want to move things indoors, put these tips to work for you. By assessing your needs carefully, you can create a space that gives your indoor garden the best chance for success.

Recommended Reading:

Jeff Flowers

About Author

Jeff Flowers has been a self-described beer geek for over a decade now. When he's not chasing his daughter around, you can usually find him drinking a fresh brew and wasting too much of his time on both Google+ & Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *