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I'm from a very rural area and love to garden, however, for work I just moved into an apartment in the city. I miss being able to grow vegetables and so I attempted to start some leaf lettuce indoors, however, almost every plant died quickly.

I'm just curious, does anyone have experience growing vegetables indoors? What are the best ones for this? What sort of planter do you use? Do they need to be directly next to a window? How often should they be watered? I'm not used to not having Mother Nature help me out with my plants

Any tips that can be provided would be much appreciated, thanks!

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If you have the room & means, "Hydroponics" could offer a new indoor solution: Growing with Hydroponics /disclaimer I transferred the site over to WordPress, apart from that I have no association with the site. –  Mike Perry Sep 6 '11 at 23:29
    
Do you have any balcony space at all? I used to live in an apartment with a chimney-shaped "courtyard" that was 1x2m with a 1x1m balcony overlooking it from the first floor. Despite low levels of sunlight this area was useful for growing potted herbs and veges (e.g. capsicum) on the balcony and a fern garden at ground level where less sun reached. –  Lisa Nov 24 '11 at 4:56
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4 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Indoor gardening is a bit more difficult then the regular outdoor gardening, there are several factors but in most cases it boils down to: Temperature, Humidity, Light, The air in your apartment.

You didn't mention exactly where your dying plants are being placed. Do you have a fan within the apartment? Plants need air whether it is natural or even if it is coming from a fan. What type of lighting is inside the apartment? Are you only using natural light? These are important factors to aide the growth of the plant as well.

How is the temperature within the apartment? If you notice a lot of temp ups / downs in the area you are gardening than it is probably worth moving the garden or choosing another spot. With apartments that becomes all the more difficult.

Your plant also probably came from some nice greenhouse, an english gardens, a ray weigands, etc etc...They have plenty of light, they also have plenty of means of water and the temperature well most of this is all outside, so they have the advantage of using mother nature. Your plant needs to adjust to these conditions. You should try to begin to place your plants in a very lit area with as much natural wind / fan as possible, these plants need to breath. If your plants are not conditioned for this type of environment you run the risk that they give up and die.

When potting the plant ensure the actual pot is cleaned up to remove any unnecessary plant diseases from prior plants. Look on the bottom of the actual pot, are you getting drainage? If not drill a hole in the bottom of the pot if you can, if not toss that pot out and get you a pot that has a good amount of drainage. Overwatering plants will destroy them, and without nature (wind, temperature, etc) the water sitting there takes all the longer to dry out.

When it comes to veggies Tomatoes need a ton of sunlight and humidity is great for them as well. Herbs are probably the simpliest to get going but I'm not sure if this is what you are after. Cucumbers and squash don't need as much sunlight as tomatoes.

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oh interesting i didn't know plants need air, like wind from a fan. my lemon trees are starting to show signs of wilting. I ruled out water...i'll try the fan idea. thanks. –  townsean Jan 3 '12 at 22:06
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Herbs are generally going to be your best bet, and a windowsill of fresh herbs for cooking is a great thing, but I'm not sure if this is going to fit your need for vegetables.

Vegetables would be easier if you have a little extra space to work with, such as a deck or maybe a window planter that you could attach to the outside of your sill. After that, it's a standard question of appropriate light and temperature. I've seen people grow bush tomatoes in a 1 foot by 1 foot container on a sunny apartment sill.

Lettuce or other simple leafy greens should be a pretty good plant to grow, though you may have to harvest them when they are small. Perhaps yours got too hot or dried out in the window you had them in? Were they getting at least a few hours of direct, or even indirect light each day?

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You can grow non-fruiting vegetables, like lettuce and spinach, indoors under florescent bulb. Use 6500K bulbs. You need 30 watts per square foot. Place the bulbs so close to the plants that they nearly touch. Raise the light as the plant grows.

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If you're not averse to hydroponics or using a kit, I highly recommend picking up an AeroGarden to start with. I started with one of these on account of our extreme temperatures here in the Florida tropics versus my attempts to grow moderate and midwinter crops, and it worked so well that I literally couldn't use through my weekly harvests. At the very least, researching their product line will give you an idea of what crops are tame enough to grow inside, and the base set should only set you back $50-100 if you shop around online.

The bonus here is that, despite the company's best efforts, these devices are very hackable once you have the base set. You can find a copious amount of tutorials ranging from creating your own seed pods and growing bulbs to, if you feel so inclined, creating an entire set yourself.

Just be careful with UV growing lamps indoors. In addition to the fire and electrical risk, the light and heat signatures occasionally gets targeted by law enforcement dependent on your jurisdiction. There've been a surprising number of cases in Florida where growing lamps were targeted dubiously, as searching for these emissions is classified as unconstitutional (Fourth Amendment "unreasonable search and seizure") down here. Learn the proper care of the system and your rights, and you should be fine.

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