By Bernadette Thomas

    Growing plants indoors is fun, but it also has the added positive benefits of reducing stress and improving happiness levels and positivity.

    There’s been a massive resurgence in vegie gardening in recent years, with many new gardeners taking the plunge and planting anything from summer zucchinis and tomatoes to more daring varieties of food crops like cauliflower. Many people enjoy gardening, whether it’s fruit and vegies, ornamentals or building an indigenous garden.

    Gardening brings joy, provides exercise, is visually pleasing, and brings birds and a whole host of critters into our backyards and our lives.

    But what if you don’t have a backyard or are unable to get outside and get your hands into the soil, but still want to enjoy the experience? Can you bring the backyard garden inside? The short answer is yes.

    Indoor gardening can take a number of forms, but the main one is container gardening – that’s right, gardening in pots. In the past twelve months I’ve been experimenting with indoor gardening, bringing a variety of non-edible plants into the house. I started for a number of reasons, the main one being a way of sprucing up our new rental home. I’ve found that there’s much more to indoor gardening than making your place look great, and best of all it brings with it many of the same benefits as backyard gardening.

    I’m yet to take the plunge and grow veggies indoors (I’ve only dabbled in the odd herb here and there), but it can be done. Anything that you might grow outside in the yard or on a balcony, in a container or a pot, can technically be grown indoors. But you still need to follow the same rules as backyard gardening, and perhaps be a little more pernickety about it – good quality soil, the right amount of space (think depth and space between plants), enough sunlight (five hours a day full sun as a minimum), good drainage, the right temperature, available water, and most importantly, the fondness for talking to your plants to encourage their growth!

    Before you start, consider the season, what you like to eat, your gardening experience and how committed you are. As with any type of gardening, it’s a good idea to pace yourself (probably best not to start with growing cucumbers indoors and instead choose a hardy herb like chives or lettuce), and expand your planting as you develop your skills and your understanding of what might grow best indoors at your place.

    If veggies aren’t your thing and you prefer non-edible indoor plants, then the same rules apply, as well as thinking about something called ‘planting style’ (basically how to place your plants for maximum visual effect), pacing their growth with the right pot size, hanging, climbing and containing spills.

    Growing plants indoors is fun, but it also has the added positive benefits of reducing stress and improving happiness levels and positivity. Looking after and nurturing a living thing can be rewarding in many ways (a bit like looking after a pet) – there’s nothing better than watching new shoots grow once the warmer weather comes around. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be harvesting your produce and heading straight for the kitchen.

    And plants are also good listeners and can keep secrets; I’m off to tell mine a story or two!

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