When growing indoor vegetables, the first hurdle is to sprout seedlings. Start with a plastic cell pack (or an aluminum pie tin with a few holes poked in the bottom), then scoop a seeding mix into your container and thoroughly moisten with water. Plant each seed about 1/4 inch into the soil, taking care to follow the instructions on the seed packet.
Seedlings should be placed in a sunny spot, preferably in a window sill. Maintain moist soil by regularly soaking your pan in a tray of shallow water or spritzing the mixture with water. As soon as your seedlings display two to three leaves, it's time to transplant them into a pot.
Pick a small planting pot with holes in the bottom so that excess water filters out, keeping vegetable-eating fungi at bay. Fill three-quarters of the pot with soil. Use a Popsicle stick or other utensil to gently dig out the roots of your seedlings and carefully transport them into the new pot. Finish by watering the soil until the top of the soil feels moist.
Water, Water, Water
Vegetable plants require a generous supply of water. When the top of your soil feels dry, it's time for a drink. With your pot on a plastic tray, water the plant until water begins to drain from the bottom of the pot. Discard the water in the tray or elevate the pot on a layer of pebbles to prevent your new plant from soaking up excess water.
Keep on the Sunny Side
The trickiest part of growing vegetables indoors is providing them with plenty of light. If your window is intermittently shaded by buildings or trees, a sill alone won't offer enough sunlight for the plants to fruit. To supplement the sun, suspend an LED or HID lamp about a foot above the plant, and keep the light beaming around 20 hours per day.
When the plants' flowers make their big debut, it's time to pollinate. Tomato, potato, eggplant, and peppers are technically cross-pollinating, meaning that they typically require a breeze (or bees) to pollinate. In the still, bug-free air of a house or apartment, you'll need to play the part of "busy bee." To release the pollen, touch an electric toothbrush to the stem of the plant a few times a week to ensure plenty of fruit when it comes time to harvest!
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Food for Thought
Don't forget that even your food needs food. Consider a commercial fertilizer or a meal of your own nutrient-rich compost—although you'll have to make sure your compost is rotted and ready to use. Start feeding plants when they first sprout, but don't treat them to an all-you-can eat buffet or they'll end up with "indigestion." Because growth tends to slow down in the winter, you should slow down feedings during the cold season too.
Time to Wait
Vegetables will be ready to harvest within two to three months. You'll go a long way towards staying on track by taking conscientious care of your plants. Of course, the Solanaceae family of vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and eggplants) that we've talked about here are only some of the many farm foods you can grow successfully indoors. Once you've mastered this group, give other crops a try!
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