I miss our backyard garden – the battle with the red clay, the monster zucchinis and tomatoes, plentiful peppers, and even the dispirited cantaloupe. The last remnants of it were wiped away when the yard was re-graded a few years back.
So there’s this large backyard with nothing to do. It’s a shame, having the yard space but less than ideal circumstances for utilizing it as you’d like. Things that make creating a new garden unlikely include a yard that tends to sprout sinkholes, unthoughtful neighbors uphill, and increasing mobility challenges.
But I want a garden. Why not garden indoors? A few planter boxes or a ginormous vertical garden. Imagining a living wall in your living room is one thing, but vegetation blooming on a basement wall? Sounds a little creepy, just picturing moldy things.
There are some expensive options out there, like converting an entire room into a garden, complete with its own climate (hey, cacao plants!) How cool would that be?
But for those of us on a very tight budget and even tighter space, staking out space for a basement garden, even if it’s just suspended growing lights over a planter box, is just fine.
My ideal indoor planter would have:
- A metal and (natural) wood frame for durability
- Self-watering system
- Full-spectrum grow lights
- Sufficient space to try out a variety of plants
Can a garden grow in a practically airtight underlit basement? I sure hope so! But before I place my order, I’ll keep in mind the words of an ancient proverb, “The plans of the diligent surely lead to success” and do lots of thoughtful planning.
In case you don’t have a basement or want to use a different section of the home, consider a grow tent designed to fit your free space.
Things to Consider
What do I need to know?
- Which plants grow well
together Thesoil best suited to growing food indoors
- Whether the garden will attract insects
- If the basement’s climate (humidity/climate mix) is suitable
- The cost of running the grow lights
My fantasy garden would grow:
- Cooking herbs; especially chives, dill, cilantro, rosemary, parsley, basil
- Jerusalem artichoke
- I had a book on container gardening; I think it went to recycle-land. But hey, that’s what libraries are for – brick & mortar and virtual.
I know the questions I want answered. But most likely there are questions I haven’t even thought to ask. But I’m sure they’ll come as I delve into this subject.
The advantage of an indoor garden is that there isn’t a growing season to worry about. So there wouldn’t be a question of when to plant something. But other questions:
- Will my harvest taste like it came from an airtight basement?
- What about ventilation?
- Will I have to worry about mold?
- Will I be inviting outdoor creatures in? Spiders, ants, mites, and flying things that would attract snakes. (If we get to that point Mom would just move and sell the house)
- Can I use solar energy?
- Will the plants be warm enough?
- Can my less-than-green thumb improve?
- Will I ever stop asking questions and get to growing something before next year this time?
The answer to the last question is yes, possibly. You’re invited to follow my quest for The Nearly Subterranean Kitchen Garden.
In this series:
- The art of indoor gardening
- Growing medium
- Watering solutions
- Basement gardens, container or vertical (is a basement too dark for hydroponics?)
- The art of plant grouping
- Pest avoidance
- Soil maintenance
- Taste test
It may be that my research will lead me to the conclusion that a basement garden won’t work out. Perhaps some of the topics above won’t lead anywhere; maybe other topics will suggest themselves. If you have any, share.
I’m looking forward to seeing where this journey leads. I hope you come along; and as you do, check out the products that we recommend here at Try Backyard Farming.
Thanks for reading, and please share this article if you found it helpful.
Click here to go to Chapter 2, The Art of the Basement Garden.