Indoor Gardening: Grow Houseplants, Veggies, and Herbs | Ekta Chaudhary | Skillshare

Indoor Gardening: Grow Houseplants, Veggies, and Herbs

Ekta Chaudhary, Garden Up

Indoor Gardening: Grow Houseplants, Veggies, and Herbs

Ekta Chaudhary, Garden Up

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8 Lessons (50m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Understanding Your Plants

    • 3. Growing Ornamental Houseplants

    • 4. Growing Your Own Food

    • 5. Growing Tomatoes

    • 6. Growing Microgreens

    • 7. Growing Herbs

    • 8. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

You don’t need a yard or even a patio to create a garden oasis in your home — just the know-how that YouTuber and scientist-turned-gardener Ekta Chaudhary of Garden Up is happy to share!

Ekta loves plants. She loves them so much, in fact, she got a PhD in ecology, all the better to understand her leafy green friends. Living in Mumbai, India, Ekta always had sunlight but didn’t always have a garden or balcony to grow plants on, and so she became determined to figure out the best ways for her plants to thrive even indoors. Now, she’s sharing her whole process with you!

Do you want your own harvest of spinach, or fresh basil whenever you crave it? Do you want to hang with a pothos or stretch alongside a monstera? You’ll learn to grow your own herbs and vegetables, decorative houseplants, and flowers (for the pollinators, of course!) like a scientist with Ekta’s accessible, friendly class! Alongside Ekta, you’ll learn how to:

  • Put together your own soil blend
  • Develop the perfect watering schedule for your plants
  • Cultivate flowers to support bees and attract pollinators
  • Nurture decorative houseplants to keep your home garden lush
  • And grow your own food indoors!

Whether you’re constantly (accidentally) killing your plants or have a pretty good track record and want to try something a little more challenging, Ekta’s class is the perfect one to help you build your home oasis.

This class is built for newcomers to plant husbandry or folks who have experienced, ahem, challenges keeping plants alive, but all are welcome to join and explore with Ekta. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Ekta Chaudhary

Garden Up



Hi... I am a teacher, gardener and entrepreneur living in Mumbai.
I started my career as a researcher spending a decade studying Ecology and sustainable farming practices among communities in the Himalayas. After finishing my Ph.D., I took to gardening full-time and started my own venture, Garden Up, a logical extension to my Youtube channel.
Garden Up services and products through social media, workshops, online courses, home decor store caters to a young audience, helping them find greenery, sustainability and balance in their lives.

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1. Introduction: I think the major impact that house plants have had on me is that when I was in my hostel, I was finishing my PhD research, and towards the end of my research, I was really looking for a hobby, something that would give me some happiness, and that's how it started. First, it was a plant, two plants, three plants, and then slowly, I think within six months, it was a full jungle. I'm Ekta Chaudhary, I'm a scientist by training, and a full-time gardener now. You might have seen my work in past in Garden Up YouTube, on Garden Up Instagram, and also some blogs on my website. Today's class is all about how you can cultivate a home garden. We start with a basic understanding of the light conditions in your house and the potting mix that you can prepare on your own. Then I will share with you step-by-step how to grow fundamental house plants, how to grow tomatoes, how to grow herbs and micro greens. I'll speak all about what are these plants, how to care for them, what kind of sun it needs, how much water it needs, what could be going wrong with this plant, and how to troubleshoot. The number one reason I feel that you should bring in houseplants in your space is that it has a lot of calming effect. If you're a big nerd in gardening or you're a serial plant killer, or you're somewhere in the intermediate level, you have grown a couple of decorative plants but now you want to graduate to growing edibles, I think this class might be perfect for you. In order to start gardening, actually, you do not need much. All that I would like you to bring in this class is some patience and some curiosity. Share your pictures in the Project Gallery. Feel free to ask question and join the conversation in the Discussion board. I'm excited you have joined the class. Let's get started. 2. Understanding Your Plants: One of the very first things you need to do before you step out of your house to buy a couple of plants or your decide to set up your garden, is to have a little basic understanding of your plants. Also, you need to understand what space you have and what tools you will be needing to set up a garden. One of the most basic thing that anybody needs to start a garden is, of course, a pot which will help you contain the soil so that you can grow plants in them. This is a typical pot. This is a ceramic pot. You would see that the depth is about 5-6 inch. Whenever you go out to buy a pot, you would often see people say, this is a six inch pot or this is an eight inch pot. It is essentially referring to the depth. The diameter, which is the mouth of the pot comes out to be in proportion with the depth of the pot. Now, of course, you can use a pot like this, but you can also get creative. For example, if you want to use a coffee mug, you can use it to grow plants. Just ensure that you make at least one drainage hole for the water to escape. If there's no drainage hole, the plant will start to die because the roots will start rotting. Now, there are other kinds of pots also available in the market, for example, a metal pot. Again, you would notice that it has a drainage hole. The kind that I highly recommend is a terracotta pot, for two reasons. Terracotta pots help maintain the temperature for the soil better. Secondly, it also helps in a better growth of the plant. If you are a complete beginner and you don't want to invest much in the pots, you can actually grow your food even in containers like these that you use for take-away food. Now let's talk about the ultimate basic thing that you would need to grow a plant. Soil. The first and foremost thing you should do is step out and inspect the soil that you have access to. Let's say in your garden or just outdoors. Try to dig out 500 grams or a KG of soil and pour some water in it. You might have to get your hands little dirty, but try to make a ball out of it. We're doing this to inspect the composition of the soil. Structurally speaking, there are three kinds of soil, clay soil, salty soil, and sand soil. Now when you make a ball out of it, if you get a perfect ball, that means that the sand is less in your soil. That means the drainage is bad for your soil. You will have to add some supplements that will help in better drainage. In order to know which of the two are more in your soil, try to make a snake out of it. If it breaks like this, this means that the silt content is slightly higher in your soil. But if it doesn't break and you can make a perfect looking snake, that means that the clay content is high in your soil. If the clay content is high in your soil, you need to add something that'll help in better drainage. My first recommendation to improve drainage is to have some perlite. This is, chemically speaking, very similar to glass, but it will help in a better drainage of the soil. You mix equal amounts of your regular garden soil and perlite and you will have a better draining soil. If you do not have access to it, you can also use coco peat. This is coconut husk that comes in a compacted form. When you add water, it expands. This will retain water in the pot for longer, but also help in better drainage. If you don't have access to it, you can also use the regular sand. I recommend not to use the BD sand because the soil content of that sand is much higher. Use the sand deposits that you find along the river side. You can perlite, cocoa peat depending on the kind of soil you have. To give some nutrition in your soil, you must add compost as well. Now let me show you how do I prepare the ideal soil for any plant that I grow indoors or outdoors. I use equal amount of coco peat. This will help retain water for longer allowing good drainage at the same time. Garden soil, which will act as a solid matrix for the roots to grow. If you don't have access to garden soil, it's okay. You can just use coco peat and compost. Compost will provide the necessary nutrition for the plants to grow. We use three of them in equal amount and mix them totally. You can use this potting mix for growing any kind of plant, from veggies to indoor plants. If you do not have access to any of these things that we spoke about for the perfect soil, it's all right. You can use whatever you have access to. Because anyway, the plants that I'm going to share with you in the coming lessons, are the hardy kinds that are not very sensitive to the kind of soil you might be using. However, one thing plants are they sensitive to is watering. How to water and when water. For how to water, you should be using a watering can. Now, this is a small watering can that you can use for 4-5 plants, but you have, let's say more than 10 plants in your space, I recommend investing in a five liter watering can. Now why do you need a watering can? One thing you would notice that is common between both of them is that the nozzle, it has a long neck. What this does is essentially reduce the water pressure. When you're watering your plant, especially, the young ones that have delicate stems, if the water is from a great height and the pressure is too much, it can damage that stem. I use this watering can for watering my indoor plants and this one for watching the outdoor plants. But if you do not have access to a watering can and alternate that you can use is a big bottle like this. Make a couple of holes on the cap, and you're good to go. As for the question, when to water your plants. If you're referring to what time of the day, honestly, it does not matter for home gardeners. Whenever you remember to water your plants, just water them. However, for the frequency, it is really important to know what kind of plant you're dealing with. For example, this is a succulent. These are called xerophytes. Xero means xero, phyte refers to what kind of water it needs. Xerophytes are plants that do not require a lot of water. However, plants like Monstera is a mesophyte, it enjoys water but not saturation with water. When I say that it enjoys water, what I mean is that before you decide to water this plant, always touch the top of the soil and see if it sticks to your finger or not. If it's sticking to your finger, that means that you don't need to add more water. If it doesn't stick to your finger, add water. This is not the most scientific way of deciding when to water your plants, but it works. Apart from these two, the third category is called as the hydrophytes, plants that really enjoy water. But in these lessons, we are going to concentrate mostly on the mesophytes and a couple of xerophytes. The third basic important thing for plants, apart from soil and water, is to have an understanding of what light conditions you have in your place. I think that's really important because sun is one thing that you cannot really move around your house. You can fix the soil, you can fix the watering conditions, but you can really not fix the sun. Any space can be categorized into three light conditions, low light, medium light, and bright light. Brightly light, is any space where the sun is directly falling on the plants, for example, here on my phone. Medium light is a place, something like the room that I'm standing in, where you do not see direct sunlight falling on the plant, but it is valid, you can do double bed. The low light condition refers to a place where you may not be able to read a book without an artificial light, a tube light, or an LED. For most of the plants that I cover in these lessons, we'll be talking about plants that can be grown in bright spaces and low to medium light spaces. A little science story for you all. I promise it won't be very geeky. If you look at the spectrum of the sunlight, it is a collection of different colors. Interestingly, the plants that look green is actually the light they're reflecting, so they're reflecting green light from their surface. All the other colors in the spectrum they're actually absorbing. Now why we as gardener should bother about that is because if a spectrum has violet, indigo, green, yellow, orange, red, so the sun's spectrum has all these bands of colors. Any plant which is growing vegetatively, meaning that when the leaves and the stems are growing, they require the blue region of the spectrum. But for growing flowers and fruits they require the red region. Now when you look at the spectrum of your tube light or your LED bulb, it does not have a lot of red light. It mostly has the green and the blue light. Therefore, it is easier for us to grow foliage plants, plants that are grown for their leaves indoors. But for plants that are grown for the fruits and flowers, we have to keep them outdoors so that they can receive the red light. Now since we're on the topic of what your plant needs, something people often miss is humidity and temperature. If you think about it, temperature has a direct correlation with the sun. If you place your plant in a very valid window, which has direct sun falling on it, of course, the temperature is going to be higher compared to a corner which is darker, where you do not get direct sunlight falling in that space. A good rule of thumb that I like to follow with my plants is if the leaf surface is big, for example, this plant. If you look at the leaves, they're quite broad. This plant should not be placed in direct sunlight, and that they should be placed in medium to low light. However, plants like these, succulents, can be placed in direct sunlight because they have able to sustain in such conditions. As for the humidity, plants that can sustain in higher temperatures are generally the desert plant. That means they also prefer lower humidity. There are plants like this Monstera that have broad leaves prefer high humidity because their real habitat is a tropical rain forest. Of course, you may not be living in a tropical rain forest. There are a couple of fixes for that. You can invest in a good humidifier. But if you don't have access to a good humidifier, what I like to do is use a drainage plate. Put a couple of gravels on top of it. Add water. Let me add a couple of more gravels. We're adding the gravel so that the plant is not in direct contact with the water. Now we keep the plant on top of this. As the water evaporates from the surrounding, it will create humid conditions, humid micro-climate for the plant to grow better. Now, the last thing that you need for your plants, and I hope it's not getting intimidating, I promise it's the last thing, is a fertilizer. What do you call a fertilizer? Anything that gives nutrition to your plants is a fertilizer. What I highly recommend is homemade compost. You can also buy compost from outside. But if you do not have a luxury of huge space, what I used to do in my hostel is get a seaweed solution. The way you use a seaweed solution is you dig 5-10 ml of the seaweed solution and mix it with a liter of water. You can use this solution every once a month for all kinds of plants. It works for veggies. It works for indoor plants, outdoor plants, blooming plants, all kinds of them. The third fertilizer that people actually use for the farmlands is urea. I don't really recommend it for home gardeners, compost or seaweed solution is good enough for you. But if you want, you can also use urea. It works like steroids. If you add this to your plants, you would see a very good growth in them. But it is chemically made and for home garden you don't really need that. The fourth fertilizer that you can have, especially if you're growing flowers is fish bone meal. This is steamed fish bone which has been crushed and grinded into a powder form. If you do not have any ethical issues with it, you can use them in your plants. It works like magic for having more flowers on your blooming plants. Now that we have covered the basics, they will help you understand the coming lessons better. Let's talk about how to grow ornamental plants. 3. Growing Ornamental Houseplants: Ornamental plants are very popular these days, you will see them everywhere. But what do I mean by ornamental plants? Basically, the ones that are primarily grown for decorative purposes. Now for decoration, you will see two kinds of plants. Either the ones that are grown for the foliage, which is their leaf, or for their flowers. In this lesson, we will cover the foliage plants and the flowering plants. For foliage plants, I like to divide them into two categories depending on what light is available in your space. First category I would like to talk about is brightly lit. Any space that is getting about 3-4 hours of direct sun, it could be indoors as well as outdoors. The first plant that I highly recommend is a rubber plant. For the care of rubber plant, all that you have to do is water whenever the soil is dry, for which you do the sticky test. Remember we spoke about that. Secondly, ensure that the light is good for this plant. If you want your rubber plant to grow rapidly, ensure that the sunlight should be at least 3-4 hours directly falling on the plant. The second plant that does brilliantly well in direct sunlight is aloe vera. Apart from the perfect copies for your window sill, this plant also has great medicinal values. All that you have to do is chop off a leaf, split it open, and you can use the gel for its medicinal properties for skin and scalp. My third recommendation for bright spaces is areca palm to add some tropical feel. Actually with most bright spaces plant, the problem is that often people forget that too much of sun also burns your plant. Be very, very mindful that your plant is not burning in the noon Sun. My fourth recommendation for brightly lit spaces is a fiddle leaf fig. Look at the beautiful broad leaves and it also has this waxy coating. For such broad-leaf plant, you have to be careful. Spray water and clean them nicely with a cotton cloth. But let's say if you don't want to get such a big plant for your space, you want something very elegant small for your work desk, which is in an area which is brightly lit, then my top recommendation for you is to get succulents. Succulent refers to any plant that stores water in them. Now, like aloe vera, when you split-open the leaf of the [inaudible] you will see a gel-like thing inside. This is an adaptation that plants growing in a desert area have. They try to store as much as water possible in them. Which also means that you have to be very careful on watering for these plants. Only water when you're completely sure that the soil has dried out. For that, for beginners, I would say it's okay to pull out the plant and see if the soil is wet or not. Nobody is born with a green thumb. It takes time to develop an intuition about your plants. If you are a first-time succulent parent and you're not sure when to water them, I highly recommend pulling them out and check the soil inspected. For example, here, it's still sticky. We'd wait for another 3-4 days before I add water to this plant. Now, since not everybody has the luxury of brightly lit space, for example, I stay in Mumbai. Here, having just a big window is a luxury. For people like me who live in small spaces do not have a big bright window, you can choose medium to low light plants. For example, monstera. Here I have two varieties of monstera. This is monstera deliciosa and this is monstera adansonii. Actually, I don't want you to bother much about the scientific name. As long as you know what your plant needs, you don't need to be trapped in the scientific names because they're complex and they make it complicated. All that you need to do is look at your plant. For example, this plant is broadly leafed, so we'll have to add water whenever the soil dries. Also, because the surface area is big, the rate of evaporation will be high for this plant. Therefore, we keep this plant in medium to low light so that the sun is not intense, reducing the rate of evaporation. For both these varieties, the care remains the same. The second plant for such light condition that I recommend for you is pothos. It's a wonderful plan for beginners. If you are applying serial killer, this is one plant you should start with. Now, another thing that makes this plant interesting for me personally is that it's very easy to make babies out of this plant. All that you have to do is pot a node. Now what is a node? Node is that junction from which you see another leaf coming out. This is, let say the main stem. Here you see the leaf is coming out, you make a cut underneath. This method works for most indoor plants are houseplants. Now we put this in water. For any cutting to grow in water, all that you need is 2-3 healthy leaves. Now, here I don't see a very good leaf, so I'll take another cutting. These 2-3 leaves will be enough for the plant to survive and you put it in water. In about 7-10 days from this junction, this node, you will see new roots coming out. Once you start seeing about an inch-long root, you stick it into the soil, and in about a month, you will have a green and lashes pothos growing out of it. Now if you want to add some color instead of just the boring green, well, it's not really boring. But if you want to add some color, I recommend red aglaonema for you. There are two varieties of this plant: a green one and a red one. If you want to add some color, a red one is a great idea. I try to keep these plants bright and red is in ensure that the light that is falling on this plant is abundant. At least 3-4 hours of direct light, but not the noon sun, that will definitely kill that plant. Either keep it in morning sun or evening sun, otherwise just in a medium-light space such as this space. But if you want to know plants that can grow in absolute low-light, by which I mean, where you would need an artificial light to even read a book, I have two recommendations for you: ZZ plant and a snake plant. Both of them do not require much care. Once in a while, if they start turning yellow, place them in a better light condition for 2-3 days, and then you can move them back to a hallway or a bathroom where you do not get enough of light. For all these plants that I have mentioned in my list, the cutting method works for them. For example, here for the snake plant, you can snip a leaf. The interesting thing is that from a snake plant, you can have at least 3-4 cuttings, and you stick them into the soil. Because it's a hardy plant, it'll take about a month or so to develop colors or to develop roots. Once it is rooted, you can continue in the small pot or if you want, you can also move to about a 4-5 inches deep pot like here that we're using for aglaonema. Now that we have covered the foliage plants, let's move on to flowers for decoration. It is important to note that there are two kinds of flowers that you would find: perennials and seasonals. Perennials are the flowers that will keep flowering for multiple years. They have a lifecycle of more than two years or more than 3-4 seasons, I would say. The seasonals are the ones that live only for one season. One season can be for a couple of months or even a year. First, let's talk about the perennials. Here we have a mogra. There's another kind of jasmine that goes very easily in any tropical condition. This is a crepe jasmine. Of course they look very different, but the main difference is that this jasmine does not have any smell. Otherwise, it's also a great plant to add to your garden. If you want to directly put in ground, you can't do that. You can also grow them in 5-6 inch deep pot. Both of these plants will do well in these size pots. The second perennial that you can add for some fencing that can climb your fence is bougainvillea. There are a large variety of colors available in bougainvillea. This will help also to add some height. Speaking about height, you would also need something on the floor. For the flour of your garden, you can bring in [inaudible]. They do not require any care. When I say any care, I actually mean it. All that you have to do is keep a little control on watering. If you look at the leaves, they're waxy. Remember we spoke about succulents. The plants that have this waxy coating are plants that cannot tolerate a lot of water. You have to keep a control on watering by which I mean, water only when the soil is completely dry. Otherwise, you will not get a lot of flowers. Since we're talking about a lot of flowers, one trick that works for most flowering plants is that continue adding phosphorus in the soil. Why phosphorus? Because scientifically we know that adding phosphorus helps plants to grow more flowers on them. Forth perennial that you can grow in pots as well as in ground is hibiscus. Here you see actually a bud is about to bloom. There are a couple of other buds as well that are coming out. This is one plant that you can grow in medium to small size, but also in a huge size. It can actually reach up to the height of 3-4 feet and become much bushier. When you're growing in the garden and if you want a bushy plant, put it directly in soil. The fifth perennial that I want to recommend for your garden is vinca. Now this is one plant. Even if you kill it, it will come back to life. All lead you have to do is water it appropriately. This plant also actively sends out seeds, you won't even realize. But within 2-3 months, you would have lots of vinca growing in your garden. Therefore, I prefer to contain it within a pot. But if you do have a big garden, feel free to put a couple of seeds in the garden directly, and in six months you have a heavy bush of vinca growing. In this plant, you also get a large variety of colors. Here we have a red and a pink one. My favorite is actually the white one, but you can grow any kinds of colors. The main difference that I personally find between the seasonal and perennial flowers is this, that the seasonal ones are bigger in size, more attractive in color, but it's slightly difficult to care for. The first plant that I want to recommend in the seasonal category is petunia. I love how this plant looks. Takes small in size. I like to start them from the seedling stage. What I do is that I get from the garden center, small saplings of this plant, and then I put it in the pot. But you can also start them from the seeds. For all the seasonal flowers, one thing to worry about a little is that most of them will flower in the spring. Now the spring in India could be very different from the spring of North America because we get spring in somewhere February, March because the temperature is appropriate at that time and the seasonal flowers like to flower in that temperature. But let's say if you are in North America, the spring might be slightly later than a tropical country. The spring in North American countries could be somewhere between April and May. You can time your seedlings and your seeds accordingly. You should start the seeds about 2-3 months before the spring. Here I have this petunia growing and this is a pink color. In this plant, also you have a couple of colors. What I like to do for my balcony is put a bunch of them together and they will add some beautiful color. The second plant to add some color in your seasonals, dahlia. This is actually dahlia pinnata. This plant does not send out a lot of flowers, but whenever it does, the size of the bloom is huge and it's gorgeous in color. Third plant that I recommend for beautiful colors is a daisy. For all these seasonal flowers, the care that I do is just to ensure that the watering is good. We follow the same foliage plant method. You put your fingers, see this oil sticks to your finger or not. If it's not sticky, you add water to it. Here we go. My last recommendation for your seasonal flower garden is a marigold. Marigold is my absolute favorite, not only for the aesthetics but also for a functional value. It is very good and attracting pollinators: bees, wasps in your garden. When you're growing a large variety of vegetables, you can't go around hand pollinating them. To make the flower turn into a fruit, you would need pollinators like bees and wasps that will come and do the job of transferring the male pollen to the female parts. To keep your flowers happy in healthy, for care, you have to ensure that the soil is well-draining, by which I mean that you can use the regular potting mix that we spoke about in Lesson 1, the light has to be good, direct sunlight, and you have to do something called deadheading. I'll show you what it means. Here I have this petunia and you would see a couple of flowers are drooping and about to die they have bloomed already. In this case, we pinch them off. Now, why are we doing this? See, why does a plant send out flowers? It sends out flowers to form seeds and to carry forward its generation. But we are growing these flowers for the aesthetic value, for the decorative purposes. We're going to make the plant save its energy, instead of putting out that energy into farming seeds, it will send out more flowers. For all these flowers, seasonal or perennial, deadheading will work wonders. Now that we have gotten to know how to grow your flowers, let's move on to how to grow your own food. 4. Growing Your Own Food: If you are a gardening beginner, or someone who does not have a lot of space, let's say you only have a kitchen countertop with good amount of light falling on it, you can grow leafy vegetables. One kind of leafy vegetable that I highly recommend for anyone and everyone is spinach. Here I have baby spinach which has just sprouted out. You can see the cotyledons. What are cotyledons? They're the first set of leaves that come out whenever a seed germinates. The second pair of leaves that you can see in the center are the real leaves of spinach. You can call this baby spinach. If you're going to use baby spinach in another 7-10 days, it'll be a good time to harvest them, otherwise you could wait for about two months. Spinach is one plant that grows very quickly among all the edibles. Now, speaking about small spaces, another plant that works very well in small spaces is rosemary. Small plants also give you the freedom to get creative with them. For example, this rosemary can be grown easily in a coffee mug. Remember that it should have a drainage hole. We're going to just gently pull out the plant, loosen the soil first, and we pull it out. This soil seems higher on clay. I'm going to make some coco peat with it, and I've also added [inaudible] because both of them help with better drainage. Whenever you are reporting, first, block the drainage a little by pressing the soil gently on the drainage hole, so that your dirt or your mud does not escape from the hole, and we gently push the plant. While reporting, I always make sure that the top one to two centimeter is empty. This allows water to sit whenever you're watering your plans. If you like growing hubs, one plant without which your home garden is not complete is basil. A good thing about flowering basil is that it's great to attract pollinators that will help with your chilies in tomatoes. The bad thing is that this will stop the growth of the plant, and it actually might start dying. If you're growing the basil for your pasta, and you want to eat that basil, I highly recommend pinching of the flowers whenever you see them. Why we're doing that? Because scientifically speaking, why does a plant flower? It flowers so that it can produce seeds, and it can make more generations, more babies out of it. Once the plant is flowering and the seed is formed, the function of that plant to grow is done, so it starts dying because now it's looking forward to the next generation. If you're growing the basil only for your pasta, or for your food, I recommend removing the flowers whenever possible. Among edibles, if you're looking for some taller ones, what is better than a tomato? The reason I recommend it for beginners is that this plant is self pollinated, which means that the flower comes out with the male and the female parts in the flower are growing together. All that you need is some sort of a [inaudible] to transfer the pollen from the male part to the female part, and you will have a fruit growing out of this flower. This brings me to the problems that you might face by growing edibles. First is that the flower might come out but does not become a fruit. The reason is that this happens when there are not enough pollinators in your place. Ideally, wind does the job in self-pollinated plants, or bees and wasps and bats do that job. But now that we stay in these high rises cities, there might not be enough of pollinators. One way to attract or to call out them is to get plants that attract pollinators. As I spoke before, you can grow basil that is flowering, it is great to attract pollinators. Another flower that works well in attracting pollinators is marigold. Both these plants are easy to maintain, and they work well in attracting the pollinators. The second problem you may face with your edibles are insects on them. An easy fix for any insect that you might see on your plant is use neem oil solution. You take about 5ml of neem oil in 500ml of water, and you add a few drops of soap solution. The reason we're using soap solution is because the oil does not bind with water. You need some detergent to make the oil bind with water. You mix it up, and you put this water in a spray can and spray it on the affected parts of the plant. A common signal that you would see your plant sending out when it's in stress is that the leaves will turn yellow. I have here a yellow leaf of philodendron. This is how a yellowing leaf looks like. Now, a leaf will be yellowing, and then you have to start eliminating that what may be wrong with your plant. Now that we have learned some basics on how to grow edibles at home, let's specifically talk about tomatoes. 5. Growing Tomatoes: Tomato is one such edible plant that you can actually grow from your kitchen. All that you need is a ripened tomato. Here I have a ripened tomato, we cut a thin slice as thin as possible, feels like a summer project. Now, this one slice has a lot of seeds in it, we place the slice in about 6-8 inch deep pot, the deeper it is the better. One thing you would notice with edibles is the bigger the pot the better because the size of the fruit and the size of the leaves will be much bigger. Here, what I'm going to do is start this plant first in a six-inch pot, once it's about two feet or bigger, I will transplant it into a 12-inch pot. We cover this with soil, an inch layer of soil is good enough, add water. For most edibles, I used to follow the same method. Add water whenever the topsoil layer is dry. Now the reason I don't prefer to say that water your plants once in two days, seven days, five days is because, see, the temperature in my house or the wind velocity in my balcony could be very different from your balcony. There's no fixed formula to calculate how much water you need and how many days. Whenever I water, I water it thoroughly, that means, I wait for the water to start coming out from the bottom hole, and to decide when to water, I touch the soil and check. Here I have two seedlings of tomatoes growing, and here I have a tomato plant which is slightly bigger than the seedlings. For most varieties of tomato, this method works, of slicing and putting the slice in soil, cover it up, and you will have tomatoes. Two varieties that I have here, which are most popularly used are cherry tomatoes and the regular cooking tomato that can be hybrid or it can be a heirloom. What is hybrid? What is heirloom? Hybrid is let's say something that is prepared manually by humans. They cross breed varieties of tomatoes in such a way that you have the best quality available. There is the heirloom variety is something that is native to your area. For example, within India, from North India to South India, there will be different varieties, heirloom varieties of tomato. For all kinds of tomatoes, this will work. Let me show you a cherry tomato that I have here growing perfectly. It actually grows out to be a quite tall plant, so I like to give some support, and since you can see the top part does not have a support, it keeps falling down. There's no problem because the stem is quite flexible, but it's always good to have some support on the top as well. The second variety of tomato that I have here is this one. As you may have noticed, this plant doesn't have any tomatoes growing on it, but when you come closer you will actually see that it is heavily infested by leaf miners. These are insects that feed on the leaves. What I like to do in this case is that prune the plant. Pruning essentially means cutting out the parts of the plant that you do not require. Now, for indoor plants, you can prune out just the brown leaves, but for tomato, what I like to do is prune out the side branches so that the plant can invest all its energy into the main branch, and also remove the infected parts so that this stresses out the plant lesser, and the plant can concentrate on developing its flowers and fruits. The second thing that I would do for this plant is add some fertilizer, why some fertilizer? Because it needs a lot of nutrition. Growing flowers and then making a fruit out of it is very energy heavy on the plant. For that it needs a lot of nutrition support. For all my tomatoes, I prefer to fertilize them every 20-25 days. For indoor plants, I would fertilize them once in a month. I'm using compost here, but seaweed solution also works. The other factor that needs to be taken care of for tomatoes is that they require good amount of sun. By which I mean, that there should be direct 4-5 hours of sun falling on the plant leaves. This is an ideal plant to grow in tropical areas. If you're not staying in a tropical place, try to start them in the spring so that you can get the best of the sunlight, that is, long days of sunlight. As for the soil, I use a general potting mix which has equal amount of coco peat, compost, and garden soil. Next up we'll learn how to grow microgreens. 6. Growing Microgreens: Microgreens, they are these tiny plants that you can actually eat without cooking. You can grow them in these food takeaway boxes. All that you have to do is drill a couple of holes in them. Here I have this container for drainage. We're going to make some holes in this. Put about 2-3 inches of coco peat. I prefer to use coco peat, but you can also use the regular soil. Now, the next thing we do is sprinkle the seeds. Here I have fenugreek seeds. It's actually a spice very commonly used in Asian kitchens. If you don't have access to these seeds, you can also visit any of the Indian stores and they keep these fenugreek seeds, I have about 50 of them and we sprinkle them on the top. Now we cover it up with about an inch deep layer of soil and we add water. You can also spray water because it does not require a lot of moisture. People often ask me that can you spray water on your plants? Well you can spray water on your plants to increase humidity, but always remember that plants absorb water from the roots, not from the leaves. Therefore, it is very important to water your plants in the root. But here, since there's no root and there is no stem or no leaf, all that we want is some moisture. You can use anything. Now you can keep this container on a windowsill or just a desk. Ensure that the light should be such that either it should be falling on the plant, but at least the area should be well lit. A trick that'll work for growing micro beans on your work desk, and if you want to keep it clean, I use two parts. This is the first part in which your plant is growing. You have drainage holes. You will see there are no holes on this. When I'm growing these micro beans, let's say, on my kitchen top, it won't get dirty. You would not have muddy water running around. For micro beans that you get from mustard, this is another one you can grow from the Indian kitchen, get a couple of mustard from the Indian grocery store, put them in soil and you will have these beautiful, healthy micro beans. You can chop them off, use them directly in your sandwich or even your salad. If you like some color in your micro beans, I have here Amaranthus and beetroot. If you want to mix up colors in your salad, you can use mustard for some spicy taste and beetroot for some color. One problem that you might run into while growing these micro beans is fungus on the top layer of the soil. That happens when the moisture is too much in the soil. Either there is no drainage hole for the water to escape or you're adding too much water. Again for the care, like your indoor plants and your flask, touch the soil and see if it doesn't stick to your fingers, add water, otherwise don't add water. If the fungus continues growing, you would see in a couple of days that these stems will start dropping and the plant will die. Because this is a plant that grows within 7-8 days. It is really important that you keep a close eye on watching. Apart from this, the soil is coco peat and the sun has to be either 3-4 hours directly falling on the plant or even a medium lit space will do well. When that eye check that my micro beans are getting good enough light is looking at the length of the stem. These are the healthy ones. This is about 1-2 inch length of the stem, but at one point, it will become bigger and drop down and your micro beans won't work out. That would happen when the light is not enough for your plant. In order to get enough light, the plant starts investing energy into its stem and it starts becoming long. If you see that the stems are too long, try again with a different batch with better light conditions. The second problem you may face with you micro beans are that the seeds might not germinate. In that case, my first guess would be that check the quality of the seeds. Whenever you buy seeds, see what is the expiry date of those seeds. If you open a packet of seeds, try to keep it in a cool and a dry place. If there's too much humidity, the seeds are eventually going to lose its germination ability. First, check what kind of seeds you have. If the seed quality is perfectly fine, check the water frequency. I know that I keep talking about watering and I'm obsessed with it. The reason is that the number one reason beginners tend to kill their plants is by over-watering. So be very sure that you're not over-watering, you're watering whenever the soil is dry. Next up, we'll learn how to grow hubs at home. 7. Growing Herbs: Among the five easiest herbs that anyone can grow at home, my top recommendation is mint. This actually tends to grow as a bush, so you need to contain it in a pot. If you do not grow it in a pot but instead in ground directly, it'll take over your entire garden and you don't want that to happen. To grow it in a pot, all that you have to do is remember, we spoke about what is a node. Node is there, you will see, a leaf coming out or another branch coming out of the plant. For example, here we have a node in this plant. You see there are two stems coming out of it. We remove these stems, and we put this in water. Just like your pothos, this point will also develop roots. Once you see the roots coming out, you can put this mint in the soil, and within a couple of days, it'll start becoming bigger and bushier. Now, one problem that you might face in this cutting method is that, the roots have come out, you have put it in soil, but still the plants that's drooping down and ultimately dies. That happens when your plant undergoes shock. Now, first the plant was in water when it was a cutting, life was very easy for that plant, water was easily accessible but when you shift it to a pot, water is not that easily accessible. In that case, what you should do is try to keep your plant in a place where there's no harsh sun. Secondly, ensure that the soil has water every time it dries out. By doing this, you will reduce the failure rate, and to improve the success rate with your cuttings, always start with three to four cuttings so that there's a good chance that at least one of them will survive. The second herb that anyone can grow is a basil. Now, there are kinds of basil in the market. There's Italian basil, there's Thai basil that you use in food, and there's Holy basil as well. The main difference is that Holy basil specially is used in Asian culture a lot. For traditional reasons, people use them for religious values and also for medicinal values. Interestingly, a research paper that came out, they looked at the chemical composition of tulsi. Tulsi is Holy basil in Hindi which is my mother tongue. Tulsi has about 40-50 metabolites. When I say metabolite, it means the chemicals that it comprises of. Most of these metabolites are known to have anti-fungal, anti-viral, and even anti-cancerous values. For that reason, you can try growing a Holy basil. Otherwise, just for taste you can have Italian basil or the Thai basil in your area. You can start the basil from a seed in a seedling tray or a pot like this. Take a bunch of seeds, try to put two in each gap. Bury them in about one or two centimeter deep soil. This is how your basil seedlings will look in 10-15 days. Once they all develop, what I try and do is separate them. I try to grow only one basil in each pot. This pot I feel is slightly smaller for this size of the basil. To allow it to grow bigger, what I'm going to do is transfer it into about 6-7 inch pot. For repotting, we block the drainage holes at the bottom so that only water goes out and not the soil. We gently pull out the plant. If it doesn't come out easily, what I try and do is place the stem between my fingers, give it a gentle nudge, and you'll see the plant was actually root bound. What do I mean by root bound? That means that there was not enough space for the roots to grow, the soil was not enough for the plant. That was probably limiting the size of this plant here. We fill up the gaps with soil. The soil that I'm using here is the standard potting mix that I recommend, coco peat, garden soil, and compost, all in equal proportions. Try and keep the top one inch empty in this so that whenever you add water, there's enough space for the water to sit and be absorbed in the soil. Similarly, you can grow another herb, Rosemary. I've grown this rosemary here in the mug. I've ensured that there is a drainage hole in the mug, and this is what I love about these small plants. They can be very conveniently grown in anything that has a drainage hole. For rosemary as well, the care remains the same. The sun should be good, which is 3-4 hours of direct sun, and water whenever the soil is dry. Some problems that you might run into while growing herbs, you know how I love talking about watering but you have to also be careful of the sun. These plants like sun but if it's direct noon sun, it will start burning the leaves. If you look at the leaves, they're quite delicate. Ensure that either you are getting the morning sun or the evening sun. With herbs, you will not get a lot of insect problem, because most of these plants are actually insect repellents, so they will not attract a lot of insects. However, if you do see some aphids growing here and there or mealybugs, use the neem oil solution and spread on the infected parts. If it just one or two leaf, you can just pluck it out and remove it as well. 8. Final Thoughts: Congratulations, you made it to the end. I hope by the end of this class, you would have understood what your plant clearly needs, and how to care for them, and how to grow them. Hopefully, you will know, by looking at the plant, without googling it, that what exactly it needs. I'm so excited to see what plants you have chosen to grow from this class. Please share them in the gallery. I will be very happy to see them. Take care, and happy gardening.