Indoor Medicinal & Edible Garden Guide for Beginners

Updated: Apr 25

I've had great success indoor gardening, especially over the winter. All the plants I grow are medicinal or edible The plants I have growing indoors are doing far better than the ones on the balcony. Here's my beginners guide to indoor gardening.

a bunch of large plants indoors facing the window

1. Soil

Everyone seems to have a golden recipe for soil. What typically adds to the confusion, is that different plants like different kinds of soil.

For my indoor garden, I use the same soil composition and it works for all my different varieties of plants.

a person with a glove holding a seedling to be transplanted

First of all, you're going to need a soil base which is generally material that hasn't got any added fertiliser in it, I use coconut coir because it's cheap and easy to find.

Here is a breakdown of the growing mediums:

Coconut Coir: This is the outside husk of a coconut that is dried.

Benefits: It holds a lot of water so your soil will remain damp for longer. It tends to be quite cheap and it can expand up to 10 times its size.

Downsides: There aren’t any nutrients in this, although this is an easy fix, you just buy additional fertiliser or one that comes with added minerals see the one I buy here.

Compost: This is formed from decomposed matter containing nitrogen (think green like grass clippings) and carbon (think brown like soil or cardboard). You mix those two things together and they decompose to make a nutrient rich growing medium.

Benefits: It’s nutrient rich and you're mimicking what happens in nature as forest leaves fall to the ground to mix with the carbon making compost.

Downsides: It takes months to make, it’s not readily available and it tends to be more expensive.

Soil: This is straight from the garden soil

Benefits: It has life in it and it's cheap and readily available for most.

Downsides: These soils are not always the best to grow in, especially if you are using it indoors as it can be full of critters that may crawl out of your pot. It’s also not great because the soil is made up of 3 components that are sand, silt and clay. You’ll need a right balance for your containers and so adjustments will need to be made.

I buy coconut coir, with added minerals, it is the cheapest and works every time as a decent base. I get the 70 Ltr one which is huge but it lasts me a long time. You can see this one on Amazon by clicking here

2. Aerator

Plants need air to breathe at the roots, they respire just like we do. If you just left the soil alone it could quickly become compacted, drowning them by preventing respiration of CO2 and the intake of oxygen at the roots.

Roots use tiny pockets of air between the soil to breath. We can help them by adding an aerator to the growing medium. I always use vermiculite for this.

Vermiculite is a naturally occurring mineral called aluminum-iron magnesium silicates. Its ph is neutral at 7.0, it's durable because it doesn't rot.

Vermiculite helps the soil to retain water and increases the air pockets in the soil.

I recommend a 70/30 split with growing medium to vermiculite respectively. I buy the one here on Amazon

3. Fertiliser

A green shovel with soil mixed with vermiculite on the surface

You're going to need a fertilizer, a fertilizer is something that contains minerals and nutrients that feeds the plants.

Plants in their natural setting would have this rich source of food built up overtime. For example, in a forest, plants will die and their leaves will litter to the ground, along with trees shedding their leaves, This collection of leaves on the ground release minerals into the ground which remain there and are available for the roots of new plants to take them up after they have been decayed, eaten and pooped out by other critters.

picture of a forest floor and trees

There are many different fertilisers you can buy. There are slow-release fertilisers which are little balls of nutrition and minerals that release overtime. However, this method may not release enough to cover the whole season. Artificial fertiliser has been shown to do more damage than good, as they reduce the availability of other nutrients in your soil.

Keep an eye on your indoor plants as they will tell you when something is wrong. To give an example, if a tomato plant's stem is turning purple it is lacking nutrition, also yellowing leaves can also be a sign of a lack of nutrition.

I add fertiliser when I water, some times once a week or once a month depending on the demands of the plant. A bit of research on the plant will indicate how often it needs to be fertilised. Here is the fertiliser that I use.

I've managed to build a natural resource of fertilisers now so I don't use store-bought anymore. I've found that my plants grow better with natural fertiliser. I use the bokashi liquid, worm tea or aquarium water.

4. Light

A plant in a rainbow colour light

The last thing that you really need is light.

First of all, find out what direction you're facing.

If your window is facing the following:

  • North - you're not going to get any direct sunlight

  • East - you're going to get the morning sunlight

  • South - you're getting the most sunlight

  • West - you're going to get the afternoon sunlight

This affects what you can grow, for example, if you're facing South, you can pretty much grow anything but you should also be careful not to grow plants that can not handle too much direct sunlight like seedlings.

A hand holding leaf cuttings in the air

If you're facing north then you have nothing to fear because there are lots of plants which are shade-loving and will happily grow in the daylight.

If your plants are really thin, called leggy plants and are practically falling over trying to lean towards the window, then you may to want to use indoor grow lights, there are many different lights that you can use depending on the intensity of your growing operation.

Essentially you can use fluorescent lights, LED and high-pressure sodium lights. Fluorescent lights and now LED lights are on the cheaper end, high pressure sodium is more expensive.

I use an LED light seen in the picture, they are about £30 and you can find them on Amazon here

Comment below and let me know what you want to start growing indoors. If you found this useful please share. Subscribe below for more updates.