Are you looking into basement gardening? Gardening is not just a way to get nutritious homegrown goodies; it also involves physical activity (which is beneficial for the general well-being) and provides stress relief.
However, not everyone has access to outdoor gardening space. Plus, outdoor gardens often require a bit more effort and dedication than indoor ones. Also, it’s not available all year long, and you can’t fully control the environment.
On the other hand, indoor gardening requires dedicated space, which is why basement gardening is quite popular. If you have a basement available and want to turn it (or parts of it) into an indoor garden, here are the steps to follow.
Basement Gardening Guide
1. Essentials When Starting a Basement Garden
Basement gardening poses a few challenges in the beginning, and getting the right tools and equipment is one of them.
Here is what you need:
- Water and nutrients
- Soil or another growing medium
- Enough space and light
- Support structures
- The possibility of controlling the temperature and humidity
Water & Nutrients
Water is essential for your plants, but it’s rather easy to organize a system. For instance, you can run a hose from an existing source (like the kitchen tap) or keep rain barrels. Both sources are great, but the second one is free.
In terms of nutrients, each plant has specific needs, so you have to do your research on the type and quantity of fertilizer needed. We recommend doing this before starting the garden, so you can group plants with similar needs.
Side note: As your gardening efforts grow, you may want to add an automatic watering system. It will save you time and keep the plants happy without much effort.
The Growing Medium
Basement gardening often uses soil or hydroponics as a growing medium. If you use soil, make sure to get the right type needed for each plant.
For instance, when it comes to veggies, a sterile mixture of compost, peat, and vermiculite is the go-to starter soil. Also, make sure the soil allows for adequate drainage.
If you don’t want to work with soil, try hydroponics. In this system, the plants grow in water which also delivers the minerals and nutrients directly to the roots. Overall, the system is easy to manage, occupies less space, and is less messy.
Side note: If you are interested in futuristic technologies and have the budget, there is a growing trend of smart indoor gardens that use hydroponics to grow herbs and leafy greens in a less messy way.
Space, Light, and Support Structures
If you choose the classical path (pots with soil), you need to make sure each plant has enough space to develop. You may also want to use shelves and vertical structures for the plants that need to climb.
However, if your space is limited or you want to optimize the available space to the maximum, we recommend trying vertical farming.
This is a hydroponics farming system that works with LED growing lights, which fits right in when talking about basement gardening. Plus, there is a lot of information out there on how a vertical hydroponic garden system works, so it’s easy to learn.
Side note: Basements don’t provide much natural light, so you should consider getting at least a few basic growing lights to get you started.
Temperature & Humidity
To start things off, you’ll need to find and seal off any cracks or air leaks (plants don’t like drafts) and get the temperature and humidity levels to the right settings by adding a few heaters.
The best temperature range for indoor plants is between 70℉ and 80℉ during the day and between 65℉ and 70℉ at night. So, to round things up, your plants need at least a constant temperature of 70℉ to flourish.
In terms of humidity, plants need water, but a damp basement is not a good growing environment. If this is your case, it’s best to use fans and heaters to move the air around and reduce the level of humidity. Otherwise, your precious plants may start to rot.
2. Choosing What Plants to Grow in Your Indoor Basement Garden
Once your basement becomes a viable environment (warm, well-ventilated, with easy access to water, light, and nutrients), you can start thinking about what you want to grow.
We recommend starting with plants that like the indoors and don’t need too much special attention. For instance, plants from the snake plants family are easy to grow indoors (if you’re aiming for decorative plants).
You can also start growing some herbs, leafy greens, and lettuces if you are planning to go for a basement vegetable garden. Once you have your first crop and you manage to create a stable environment, you can move on to tomatoes, peppers, peas, bush beans, spinach, and other plants that are a bit more sensitive to temperature variations.
Side note: Start with dwarf varieties of the plants mentioned above to make sure you have enough space to accommodate their needs.
3. Scale Up Your Basement Gardening Project
The best way to ensure your basement gardening project is a success is to start small and work your way up. Most basements need a bit of work before they can be a hospitable environment for plants, so it’s important to give yourself room for error.
If you start with a big garden with a wide variety of plants, you also have to make a larger initial investment in tools and equipment. Plus, unless you are a gardening connoisseur, you’ll have a lot to learn about each individual plant’s needs.
In short, a big project requires commitment, effort, and a substantial financial investment. Therefore, if your success rate is not as expected, chances are you’ll give up gardening altogether because you will see it as a failure.
However, if you start small and record each tiny success, you’ll understand why so many people see gardening as a great therapeutic activity that brings peace of mind and relaxation.
Wrapping Up Our Basement Gardening Guide
Basement gardening may not be for everyone, but if you like growing plants, it can provide a way to disconnect from the stress and anxiety of day-to-day life. Plus, if you take it slow, it can easily become a hobby you love and want to cultivate.
And, if you don’t have a basement, there are other ways to grow plants indoors without having to sacrifice too much of your personal space.