There is a growing trend (no pun intended!) towards eating fresh, locally-grown food. And there is nothing fresher than harvesting food from your own garden. Unfortunately we live in a climate with a very short growing season and can only grow our own herbs and veggies a few months out of the year…. or can we? Enter the indoor garden.
In addition to being organic and delicious, plants improve our indoor air quality, and a connection with plants improves our mental well-being. But in the past the idea of an indoor garden may have conjured up images like this:
Doesn’t exactly blend with your decor does it? Not to worry – there are plenty of options that will not only enhance your decor, but are actually a focal point.
In case you are doubting whether growing indoors is a trend, there are a number of companies actively developing technology to capitalize on this opportunity.
Always on the leading edge of design trends, IKEA has recently developed an indoor gardening kit:
Unfortunately the KRYDDA/VÄXER grow kit will not be available in Canada. (Interestingly as I was writing this last week IKEA also released open source designs for a garden sphere that feeds a whole neighbourhood)
The Urban Cultivator appeared a few years ago on Dragons Den and is now fairly widely available. The benefit to a system like this is that it has a built-in light and watering system, so requires very little effort on your part.
There are a few other growing systems I have come across, some of which are just in the process of launching:
The Organiponic System, which is available as a wall-hung or tabletop unit:
And the Vertical Green Plug & Plant, which has built-in sensors that allow your plants to communicate with you via your smartphone and let you know whether they are receiving enought light and water. Pretty cool, right? If you’re interested in one of these you can put your name on a waiting list for when it becomes available.
But what really fascinates me is how to incorporate an indoor garden as a design feature. SieMatic has some great examples of built-in planters – the photo at the top of this post is a SieMatic kitchen and here is another example:
Similarly, you could incorporate planters into your island, such as in this kitchen by Jamie Blake of Blakes London:
In both of these examples, the planter could also be used as an ice tub, or to store things like oils and vinegars (in case the home growing thing doesn’t work out for you).
Vertical gardens are all the rage. If you have a lot of room you could fill a whole wall:
But if your space is more limited, try a wall-mounted planter such as this one from Bright Green:
Or if you’re handy and like a rustic style, you could create a DIY herb garden like this one by Studio N2:
Another way to feature an indoor garden into your kitchen design is to build it into your cabinetry. Here are a few examples:
But if you’re not quite ready to fully commit to growing your own food and just want to give it a whirl, you can create a beautiful but less permanent garden with decorative pots and planters:
So now that you’re excited about the prospect of growing your own food, here are a few plants you can try:
Herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow. Things like basil, parsley, oregano, thyme, cilantro and rosemary are not only good candidates for an indoor garden, but are useful in many dishes
Many vegetables grow well indoors and don’t take up much room – for example lettuce, baby carrots, baby spinach, radishes, and green onions. These also grow quickly, and can be harvested in as little as 30 days.
Microgreens are basically the same as an herb or vegetable – they just haven’t fully matured. Microgreens are great in salads, on sandwiches, and even in smoothies (think wheatgrass)
There are a few keys to making sure that your garden will grow:
Light is one of the most important elements for plant growth. Plants needs as much as 14-16 hours of light, so they will need to be placed either near a window or skylight. In the absence of natural light, you may need to consider a grow light. An important design consideration will be how to incorporate this into your decor so as not to be an eyesore, especially since it needs to be placed within a few inches of your crop
Water & humidity – plants can suffer from both underwatering and overwatering. If you’re not sure whether you will remember to water, you could look at investing in an automatic drip watering system. In our dry Alberta climate, it is also a good idea to mist the plants regularly to maintain humidity.
Soil & drainage – use a good potting soil that will hold moisture, and provide proper drainage so that water does not collect at the roots of the plants
Fertilizer – plants need to be fed just like we do, and indoor plants need extra nutrients, so be sure to fertilize regularly
Temperature – maintain a relatively stable temperature in your home and do not place your indoor garden next to a heat vent
Above all, you must be willing to put in some time and effort if you want your garden to be a success. But the reward of fresh herbs and veggies will be worth it.
– Jolanda Slagmolen-Flores, AKBD
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