Growing indoors vs. outdoors, which is right for you?
To say that growing plants is amazing for our health is putting it lightly. From the plants cleaning up the air around us to just the sight of them sparking happiness, gardening is a great hobby to have. But where oh where are all those plants going to go?!
Deciding whether to start your garden indoors or outdoors is a question many gardeners struggle with. And with new technology perfecting indoor growing, from LED grow lights that dramatically reduce electric bills to automated systems that run the garden for us, the question has only gotten harder to answer.
But that’s why we’re here to help!
To grow as Mother Nature intended it, not only is it better for the environment to grow outdoors, but expanding the number of outdoor gardens, especially in cities, is seen as absolute for combating the threat of climate change.
- Free Resources – For most, gardening is a hobby and not something to save money with — especially, when growing indoors. However, the lovely outdoors provides a lot of free resources that indoor growers could only hope to have. Buying and using light fixtures, fertilizers, water, etc., can get very expensive fast, and that hole in your pocket can take away the joy of gardening.
- Bigger Plants – Container gardening is no doubt wonderful, but when your plants’ roots have the freedom to grow without hindrance, they tend to grow bigger. Add on to the fact that you are less likely to prune them to restrict them from growing too tall or wide, and it’s easy to see why outdoor plants often yield more.
- Builds a Community – Recently, we talked about the many perks of urban gardening, and one that stood out was the urban garden’s ability to bring together a community, helping those from different generations and socioeconomic backgrounds find common ground.
- Pests – From insects to diseases to thieves, while growing outdoors is often less labor intensive, there is little more heartbreaking than spending the entire season growing a plant only for it to be beyond damage at the last second by pests.
- Limitations – From finding a spot that’s sunny but not too sunny to being forced to forget about growing your favorite fruits due to your climate, it can be a real struggle to grow outdoors when you don’t have the setup for it. And that struggle is something city folks, in particular, know all too well about.
- The Mercy of the Elements – While mild rain, wind, and droughts can all translate into hardier crops when the elements get extreme, they can do extreme damage to your crops.
- Lack of Control – From street lights that can mess up your crops’ photoperiod to the inability to control pollination, outdoor gardening’s hands-off approach can cause you just as much stress as it does freedom.
Lack of outdoor space, an unfriendly climate, need for discretion, and on, there are many reasons you may be forced to garden indoors. Fortunately, gardening indoors is considerably easier and more affordable than it was just a decade ago.
- Control – Growing indoors gives you the ultimate control, which can often translate into higher quality yields as you can dial in the perfect amount of light, temperature, humidity, and on. Plants grown outdoors often rival, if not beat, crops grown indoors, but that is only with perfect conditions that may be impossible for you to achieve. With phone apps that alert you to any flux from optimal conditions, outdoor crops may soon struggle to keep up.
- More Harvests – Growing indoors lets you perpetually garden year-round, giving you fresh veggies in the dead of winter. As well, some crops can go from seed to harvest much faster indoors — especially, if they have a short-day photoperiod.
- Convenience – When running an indoor and outdoor garden in tandem, I often find myself enjoying the convenience of indoor gardening. My fertilizers, water, etc., are all a arm’s reach away, and I can freely and easily work during the night. Automated systems make this even easier, with some requiring your attention once a week or so.
- Cost – Growing crops indoors is expensive, especially, when starting out, as you’ll most likely need to buy lights, ventilation equipment, and other growing accessories. Even after that, you’ll still see additional costs from places such as your electric and water bills.
- Space – While a small herb garden or a smattering of houseplants around the house might not take up too much space, many of the most popular fruits and veggies we eat will. Unless you can dedicate a room to your indoor garden, you’re going to be pretty limited in what you can grow.
- Maintenance – For the same reasons growing indoors costs more, an indoor garden will require more work to keep your plants happy and healthy. While automated systems are helping with this, from equipment failure to their limitation running more extensive gardens, gardening outdoors is still seen as the lower maintenance option. That is if weeds and pests aren’t an issue for you.
Growing Indoors Vs. Outdoors: Which Is Best For You?
Whether you should grow indoors vs. outdoors will come down to several factors, and that’s why you, like many, may end up doing both!
Even when you have a large outdoor garden, starting your plants early indoors can give you an incredible head start that delivers high-yielding crops that you could never achieve solely by growing outside.
Setting up an herb garden on your counter is a great way to always have easy access to herbs with short shelf life. At the same time, even when you’ve turned your basement into an indoor green space, looking for a spot or two outdoors where you can plop a humongous crop that isn’t feasible to grow indoors, like an indeterminate tomato, is a great idea. Take advantage of those free resources!