If you live in an apartment or in a region where excessive heat or cold rule out easy outdoors gardening, why not consider growing some of your food indoors? Even the smallest of apartments can be adapted to the needs of plants.
Light, space, water and fertilisers are the four most important factors influencing plant growth. Consider the possible sites for growing indoors fist based on sunlight availability. If this is not an option, consider if you wish to install lights for your plants. Many balconies and windows will provide ample morning sun to sustain plant growth unless you live in high latitudes where the daytime is substantially shorter.
In deciding what to grow, consult your local nursery or other gardeners in your area. Find out what is suited to the temperature range and humidity of your climate. Sprouting your own alfalfa, sunflowers and lentils are the simplest fresh growing method that requires nothing more than a jar on the kitchen sink. Growing larger vegetables indoors requires some creative thinking regarding the growth habit of your chosen food crops. Some small shallow rooted plants like lettuce and other leafy greens can easily be grown in regular pots. Herbs and climbers like tomatoes and beans are good for small spaces, and salad greens are quick to grow.
Vine like plant growth such as that of cucumbers, and tomatoes can be facilitated with either staking or trellising, or the use of hanging pots. Walls, windows, doors can become your garden. Wall brackets can allow you to put pots on the walls, while a trellis can allow you to grow climbing stocks up a wall. This also creates a great screen for privacy or decor. You can create a hanging garden that utilizes the space outside the railings of a balcony, or indoors by growing in hanging baskets, bottles or window boxes.
For the serious gardening a purpose built hydroponic system that provides a nutrient system and lighting will cost you a few hundred dollars. A simple hydroponic system can be rigged from discarded water bottles and wire to hang from a curtain rail (best to replace your regular curtain rail with something stronger like doweling). Potatoes can be grown in stacked interlocking crates (like milk crates), adding straw and an extra crate as they grow taller.
The upkeep of your garden will need to include regular fertilising and pest control. You can decide whether you’d rather enjoy the influx of insect life and be prepared to sacrifice a little of your crop to them, or you can try some home-made organic pest repellents. If you use commercial pesticides, even the innocuous pyrethrin, you run the risk of killing beneficial as well as unintended insects. A simple bug spray of boiled garlic and chilli will repel most sap-suckers without killing them, while mildew problems can be controlled with baking soda and water spray. Mold can be best controlled by good air circulation and by avoiding over-watering.
You can supplement your indoor vegetable garden by composting your waste or starting a small worm farm: both great ways to create a relatively closed loop system that minimises financial inputs.
Growing vegetables indoors can enable those of us without access to outdoors gardens the joys of growing, Nurturing your own food will enliven your living space and improve your physical and mental health. It can be a great way to feel less reliant on the unsustainable monoculture of typical mass produced food and an educating experience for adults and children alike.