A lot of newcomers to indoor gardening are focused on extending the bounty of an outdoor garden year around. Let’s just start with the fact that protecting your veggie plants from frost is not enough. Successful indoor growing surpasses the temperature.

Growing plants that are totally cut off from the outdoor elements puts you in the hot seat. Its up to you to provide an environment they find hospitable. Something your house or condo was designed and built to present a totally opposite situation. Abodes are for humans, and plants that provide people with an edible harvest need you to simulate the elements they would enjoy outdoors in the a garden situation.

You are the engineer of the perfect summer. Up to it? Your salad and salsa ingredients certainly hopes so!

1) Humidity & Drought

Plants in a heated house in winter won’t have much moisture available in the air. Your heating system, and R-factor windows and doors will rob them of that. A humidifier isn’t the answer, those are designed for humans and furniture. When you give your indoor garden their own environment in a grow room, grow tent, or grow box it relieves them from the harshness of the human’s idea of pleasantness.

Build Your Own Grow Box Mistakes2)  Even Temperatures

No matter what the season, most home heating and cooling systems experience high and low temperatures. This is especially true of forced air heat. The indoor environment must cool down before the furnace kicks in and tosses out more warmth. Unless you’re living the the most up-to-date home with state of the art insulation for walls, windows, doors, floors and attic – this can spell trouble for garden plants growing indoors in a cold winter climate. They can’t stay warm enough to do anything besides survive, so since it’s not cost efficient to keep your home temperature at a level 80 degrees, it’s much wiser to put your garden inside an enclosed a climate-controlled space.

If you do live in a cold winter climate, forget about the window giving you free grow lighting. There’s too many cloudy days where it snows a lot, and the temperature in front of that glass is all over the place! Many highly desirable plants simply won’t deal with the erratic environment in this situation, including the indoor garden staple, lettuce. The grow room lets you moderate the temperature.

3)  Crop Health

Pests and diseases attack weakened plants first. Like with human health, good nutrition, hygiene, and the proper environment are key to warding off pestilence and illnesses. This means giving your indoor garden the right amount of humidity, air flow, and light, along with even temperatures to keep the plants in peak condition to fight off ‘germs’.

Being in a protected environment that the grow room offers also makes it possible to have greater control over insects that can move in and take your veggies from awesome to awful in short order.

4)  A Bigger Harvest

Having already established the fact that outdoors and indoors are two separate worlds, anyone who has done much growing will already understand this point. The health and vitality of any plant is the key to getting it to perform to its full capacity. Putting your indoor garden in a sealed grow room allows you to give it ‘the perfect summer’ – the season that all seasoned gardeners reminisce over – when the harvest was so huge they had no idea what to do with it all.

Cold weather, excessive heat, too much rain, not enough rain, garden pests… these are the things that you don’t have to deal with when growing indoors. At least not when you’ve got a controlled environment inside a grow room. You have the opportunity to create the perfect season, so do it. That’s the secret to a really productive and efficient indoor garden.

5)  Total Light Control

Moderating the night and day hours to bring your harvest in at it’s peak can be a lot more important than you might think, especially in winter where it snows. If the glow of city street lights bouncing off the snow can stop a greenhouse full of poinsettias from turning red for Christmas sales, then you know this will effect the plants in an urban indoor garden. The only way to make sure that your plants have the right amount of day hours and night hours is in a sealed grow room.

At the same time, energy efficient grow lights only provide growing energy to the tops of your crops. Tall plants like peppers and tomatoes will need side lighting. This means you want walls and floor in the grow room to reflect it back to your plants instead of eating it up. Something that trying to grow vegetable plants anywhere else indoors is infamous for doing, leading to weak, leggy plants and a poor harvest.

This is just the basics. What your indoor garden needs delves much deeper. Whether you buy a grow tent, or grow box, or tackle the challenge of building one yourself, be sure your grow space has the proper air flow, heating and cooling, humidity control,  and light availability your fruit, herb, and vegetable plants need to bring in an abundant harvest efficiently.

You need light ABOVE and around your indoor garden plants. The poorly engineered grow light system in the images on this page will not work! Note the intense shadows beyond the insufficient light? It’s like a garden in the shade, where a getting lots of peppers and tomatoes is not happening. Plant robustness and the harvest will suffer from it, despite the reflective tinfoil. They really should have put overhead grow lights on every rack/shelf instead of one running the length of a tall enclosed cabinet.

Tammy Clayton

Tammy Clayton

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine
Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home.
Tammy Clayton