These days there are an increasing amount of people who do not have access to outdoor spaces to garden or grow their own food. This coincides with high costs of food, and more consumers becoming aware of harmful chemicals in the food supply. For these reasons, along with a desire to become more environmentally sustainable, our family became interested in the prospect of growing some of our own foods.
However there was one large glaring barrier- space!
We live in a basement suite which has limited space. Additionally, we have small children and have to ensure that any plants can coexist with them safely. Another issue we have which is common in basement suites is the quality of available light. We only have so much natural light during the day which shines on specific areas in the house.
Looking for Alternative Methods
Although we would absolutely love to have a yard where we could have our own planters, grow beds and a greenhouse (dare to dream!) we found ourselves in the position of having to be creative with how to grow our own foods indoors.
The following is a list of indoor growing methods that we considered (or are currently dabbling in) to achieve our goals of growing our own food
We are currently in the process of using recycled jars as a windowsill herb garden. The upside of using the windowsill is that it takes advantage of the direct natural light as well as keeps the plants safe from the kids (and vice versa). We are using this space for herbs, but eventually we are planning to expand our window ledge so we can fit more planter containers to grow other vegetables.
Indoor Vertical Gardening Systems
In our living room, we get some good morning sunlight that comes in for a few hours and shines directly onto the wall opposite the window. One way to take advantage of that space for growing would be to look into an indoor vertical gardening system. You may have heard of a pallet garden, this is a good example of the kind of system that you can affix to a wall to build your garden. Likewise, you can use tower planters or multiple tiered shelving for planters. Another advantage to using vertical gardening systems is that they take up almost no floorspace at all, as you are maximizing space by stacking grow areas. We currently have our TV mounted on the wall that receives direct sunlight and are considering moving our furniture around so we can get some more good green stuff in our lives!
Hanging Baskets and Terrariums
Hanging baskets and terrariums are another great way of growing indoors without taking up any actual floorspace. Hanging baskets are a good option for growing things like strawberries while conserving space. Just ensure to take care that your baskets provide proper drainage for your crops.
Terrariums are meant to trap the moisture and humidity creating a greenhouse effect. If you choose to go this route, it would be wise to look into which plants or herbs would thrive under these conditions (for example mint is said be a good candidate for terrarium growing).
Hydroponic and Aquaponic Systems
Is having soil in the house not for you? Perhaps a hydroponic or aquaponic system is what you are looking for. Hydroponic systems are a method of growing that uses a water and nutrient solution to grow plants in a grow bed that uses some type of grow media rather than dirt. Hydroponic systems are becoming more mainstream, especially in urban areas. Even Ikea is getting into the hydroponics game and has an indoor kit available for purchase!
Aquaponics Systems are similar in the way that they use water and grow media instead of dirt. However an aquaponics system utilizes some form of fish tank. In aquaponics, the water from the fish tank cycles into the grow bed where it provides nutrients to the plants. The root systems of the plants then filter the water before it goes back into the fish tank. Once stable, this can be a very low maintenance system that mimics a natural ecosystem. It was for this reason that we chose to build an aquaponics system in our home where we could teach our children about growing their own food while giving them the experience of fish ownership.
Ultimately, having access to an outdoor area with plenty of fresh air and light is ideal for growing your own food. However with a little bit of creativity and effort, you can have your own flourishing (albeit tiny!) garden in your own home even if there is very little space available.
What solutions do you use for gardening in tiny spaces? Let us know in the comments!