Creating the right growing environment is the foundation of a successful indoor garden. Key factors to consider include relative humidity, temperature, CO2 levels, and air circulation. Optimal humidity levels are between 40-60%, but some plants may require higher levels, which can lead to disease and fungus issues. The ideal temperature range for most plants is 68-75°F. CO2 is essential for plant growth, and proper air circulation and exchange will maintain a CO2 level between 300-400 PPM.
Water quality is a crucial component of plant growth, which is why it's important to start with good water. The PPM (parts per million) or EC (electrical conductivity) measure the amount of salts in a solution. To ensure healthy growth, start with a low PPM or EC and add specific nutrients for your plant variety. A reverse osmosis system can reduce PPM/EC levels. Additionally, pH (potential hydrogen) measures the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a scale of 0-14, and nutrient lockout can occur with too high or low pH levels.
There are several methods for growing plants indoors, including ebb and flow gardens, drip gardens, aeroponic gardens, and NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) gardens. Organic gardening is also possible using many of these methods, with container gardens being a popular choice.
The growing medium you choose acts as the root anchor system. Options include coco (made from coconut husks), expanded clay pebbles, rock-wool stone, silica, and peat mixes, each with its own unique benefits.
Nutrients and fertilizers, whether liquid or dry, are essential for plant growth. Over- or under-fertilising can lead to plant burning, curling, or yellowing. Most nutrient bottles are labeled with N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) levels, and additives and supplements can enhance microbial activity, strengthen plant cell walls, increase flower sites, shorten harvest time, increase size, flavour, and aroma of fruits and flowers, and more.
Proper lighting is also essential for indoor gardens. Metal Halide (MH) and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps are common HID light options, with MH lamps providing blue spectrum for vegetative growth and HPS lamps providing orange/red spectrum for flowering. T5 lamps are high-output fluorescents with low heat and energy consumption, making them ideal for cuttings, mother plants, and short growth cycles. Double Ended (DE) lighting is a full spectrum HID lamp with a higher par reading than single-ended lamps. Plants in the vegetative stage need 15-18 hours of light, while plants in the bloom stage need 10-12 hours.
Testing equipment, including meters for testing solution pH, PPM, and EC, as well as environmental controllers, is crucial for maintaining optimal conditions for a bountiful indoor garden.
To complete your indoor garden setup, consider accessories like atmosphere-enhancing devices (fans, blowers, CO2 emitters, integrated timers), trellising, stakes, supports, shears, and labels. Pest and disease control may also be necessary, with many organic options available.