Growing Veg at Home this Spring
Discover indoor gardening with The Compost Shop Guide to Springtime Gardening- Indoors!
If you don’t have a greenhouse- maybe you don’t have the space, or the money - February can be a pretty dull month for gardening. Obviously the days are short and weather is still cold (if not colder) as previous months, and even though Spring is round the corner, it’s very much winter. Add to this that you’ve maybe not been able to get on with very much through the dark, dreary winter months, and that you’re probably full of ideas and pent-up energy for the coming Spring. Indeed, for an enthusiastic newcomer, the down time of winter can seem drag on forever. By late winter, the thought of something, anything growing fresh shoots can be a joyful one and an antidote to the winter gloom. Indeed, the presence of a growing plant always has the ability to relax and restore you after a miserable winter.
So what about indoors? For a recent convert to gardening, there can be few outdoor options available in February, and the warmth and protection from the elements afforded by planting indoors provide excellent growing conditions, all year round. So here’s our guide of top tips for growing veg indoors in February:
Select your crop:
For most of us, space at home is enough of an issue without adding plants into the equation! So watch out you don’t plant anything that’s going to grow too large for the sun-lit spot you’ve selected for it, unless you have somewhere more suitable, like a conservatory or greenhouse, where you can move it once it has grown. Remember to select a plant based on how much sun you can provide for it without changing its position – plants generally respond poorly to being moved. Those requiring lots of light should be kept to West and South facing windows.
Think outside the box- surprisingly, pole beans and peas can be easily grown indoors, either with a shortened length of bamboo or by hanging strings from the ceiling for it to climb. With beautiful flowers, these can be attractive and unusual plants to keep indoors- however with a maximum grown height of almost two metres, they may require a bit of forward planning. Broad beans like the Super Aquadulce –extremely hardy, even to be planted outside in February- or peas like the alderman or Kelvedon Wonder can be planted this time of year, the latter are very suited to indoors growing due to their reduced size.
If you aren’t keen on legumes, there are lots of alternatives. Basil, oregano and dill are all suitable to growing indoors, as are salad leaves, and possibly even peppers or tomatoes. With enough care and attention you will surprise yourself!
Indoor plants need more water than outdoor plants. So you will need to stay on top of your watering plan. It’s not enough to water only if it crosses your mind- chances are once in a while will not be sufficient in a warm house, and any attempt to make up with an extra helping will result in killing your plant. For the most efficient drainage, water with a consistent amount of water at a set time. Remember to bear in mind the type of plant you’re watering and the amount it needs. One advantage of indoor watering is relatively consistent air temperature, which can help with keeping your watering measured and avoid under watering.
Needing more water means more risk of overwhelming the plant, so drainage becomes even more important. It’s vital to ensure adequate drainage by placing some gravel, stones, or wood chips in the bottom of the pot, and to use a perforated pot that allows the excess water to pass through. Place this inside a watertight container to ensure your plant remains well watered without wallowing in stagnant water which can cause rot or attract unpleasant insects. Unglazed terracotta pots are porous and can offer some natural evaporation to reduce excess water.
When planting pot plants for the first time it’s important to take steps to nurture them – take care over your first steps and your new veg will be able to prosper and grow in the coming months. The best way to do this is thorough research into the specific needs of the species you’d like to grow. And of course using the correct compost is a great way to help your seedlings thrive. For small seeds and seedlings we recommend John Innes No. 1 compost. With carefully balanced nutrients, John Innes No. 1 has been used for over 50 years to help seedling stage plants develop. Too dense a nutrient profile can actually damage your young plants, so be certain to use the best compost for them. For larger, grown plants we suggest John Innes No. 2 compost and for the largest, fully grown specimens in their final stage of potting we think you’ll find John Innes No. 3 compost provides the best support. John Innes was specially formulated for potted or container plants at different stages of growth- so if you’re looking to give them a bit of boost this blend would be a great start! For more information on John Innes composts, see our blog the subject.
Remember, there is an abundance of tips for indoor & outdoor gardening online, with lots of information available- however don’t feel overwhelmed or under pressure to use every garden blogger’s favourite garden ‘hacks’- be positive, go at your own speed and the pleasure of growing indoors will last a lifetime!