A vegetable garden is an ideal way to have in-season, nutritious and inexpensive produce. The most traditional way to grow a vegetable garden involves planting a plot outside in a backyard. Not everyone has this luxury, however. Apartment and mobile home dwellers, those with little or no yard space, and those living in cool, harsh climates often must find innovative ways to grow their vegetables. Fortunately, these gardeners are able to cultivate vegetables indoors with the use of containers and artificial light sources.
Select vegetables that you like or are interested in trying. Research these plants, taking note of their light, moisture, and temperature needs, along with how quickly they grow and how large the plants become at maturity. Purchase seeds or starter plants in the varieties you choose.
Select containers for your vegetables. Traditional planters and pots are not your only options; plastic storage tubs, baskets, wooden boxes or crates, and even mixing bowls are all acceptable containers, once drainage holes are added. Select containers appropriate to your plants' growing needs.
Select the artificial light source (grow light) that best suits your needs. Set up the grow light in the area of your home designated for your indoor garden by mounting the light to the wall or ceiling, or setting it up on a shelf system. Grow lights are different and so is their set-up, so always follow the instructions included with your specific grow light for best results.
Rinse the containers and add drainage holes to those with little or no drainage. Fill containers up to 1/4 inch below the rim with high-quality potting mix, working compost or peat moss into the mix as a natural fertiliser.
Add the plants. If you're planting seeds, sprinkle a few into their appropriate containers, and lightly cover them with soil. If you're using starter plants, make a small hole in the soil and carefully transplant the plant into its container, making sure not to damage the roots. Surround the plant with soil so it is secure in the container. Mark your containers with labels so you can identify your plants as they grow. Water the containers thoroughly.
Arrange the plants under or around your grow light set-up. Set your grow light on a timer or manually turn it on and off, leaving it on long enough to facilitate your individual plant's growth needs.
Maintain your garden. Water daily, or twice daily if necessary, as growing vegetables require plenty of water. Fertilise as needed, following the directions on your fertiliser package. Never add more fertiliser than is required on the package label, as overfertilizing may burn and kill vegetable plant leaves.
Harvest your vegetables when they become ripe. Harvesting each ripe vegetable encourages more growth and production, and produces larger fruits and vegetables on plants, allowing you the maximum benefits of your garden.
Different varieties of grow lights may make choosing difficult. Fluorescent lights are inexpensive and mildly effective, but not as effective as other grow light options. Metal halide lights are a high-intensity discharge light for compact plants and are well-suited to smaller plants or leafy greens. The high-pressure sodium light is another high-intensity discharge light, and works well for fruiting plants such as tomatoes, peppers and squash. However, when used with leafy greens, these lights may make skinny and sick-looking plants.