Grow Your Own Indoor Garden With These 3 DIYs

Photo: iStock
Enjoy all the benefits of organically grown plants right inside your home.

Want to grow a garden but aren't blessed with a big backyard? We have a solution for that. Zia Allaway shows in her new book, Indoor Edible Garden, that you can enjoy all the benefits of home grown plants even if you don't have room outside to harvest them. Take a look at these fun, and easy DIYs and before you know it, you'll have fresh, homegrown fruits, veggies and herbs all year long.

Create a Mini Greenhouse

Any set of wooden shelves can be used to create a mini greenhouse for growing plants. Zia recommends using wider and adjustable shelves to accommodate more plants and taller crops.

What You'll Need

  • set of wooden shelves
  • paint (optional)
  • single strip fluorescent grow light for each “greenhouse" shelf
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • a few plastic-coated wire ties
  • screwdriver and small wood screws to attach shelves to wall (if necessary)


Step 1: Turn the shelves upside down and secure them so they don't fall over. Using a pencil and ruler, measure the width of the underside of one of the shelves and draw a line lengthways through the center.

Step 2: Center the grow light unit along the pencil line marked on the shelf. Mark each end of the grow light with the pencil. Screw on the brackets supplied with the unit just inside these pencil marks.

Step 3: Repeat steps 1–2 for each shelf that requires a grow light. Then clip the lights onto their brackets, ensuring that the plug sockets on all the lights are facing the same side of the shelving unit.

Step 4: When you have secured all the grow lights to the shelves, turn the unit back up the right way, and position it against a wall. Some units will need to be fixed to the wall with screws. See the instructions before connecting power cables.

Step 5: Secure the power cables to the back of the shelving unit using plastic-coated wire ties. These will keep the cords tidy and prevent anyone from tripping on them. Once you have plugged the unit into the wall outlet, you are ready to start growing crops.

Step 6: You can display your shelves near an outlet in a dark corner of the house, but if you set them close to or under a window or skylight that offers some supplementary sunlight, you can also make use of the top shelves to grow more crops.

Growing Tips:

  • Grow lights may have different attachment systems, so read the instructions before you start.
  • Check that all your plant containers are waterproof so they don't leak onto the shelves or into the grow lights
  • Mimic natural light conditions by turning off your grow lights every night for 8–10 hours
  • To provide your crops with sufficient light, the tops of the plants should sit just an inch or two beneath the grow lights. If the plants are too far away, raise them up in their pots on glasses or other temporary supports. You can then remove the supports as the crops grow taller. Some grow lights are more powerful than others, so check first with your supplier to ensure you buy a product that is appropriate for your needs. Raise up crops on upturned glasses.

Make Hanging Herb Jars

Choose a container that is deep enough to accommodate your herb plant and one that has an area at the base for water to drain into. Hang the jars in plant holders made from electrical cable for a contemporary look, or try using jute rope for a more rustic aesthetic.

What You'll Need

  • glass vessel, such as a large canning jar or vase, with a neck approx 7in (18cm) wide
  • 33ft (10m) or more of plastic-coated electrical cable wire or jute rope
  • metal washer or ring
  • paint for glass
  • handful of polystyrene packaging, broken into pieces, per pot
  • horticultural sand
  • selection of small herb plants
  • commercial potting mix
  • large, sturdy screw-in hooks, or hang the pot from a curtain rod


Step 1: Cut four lengths of electrical cable (or rope) at least 5ft (1.5m) long, or longer if you have high ceilings. A 5ft cable will suspend the jar about 26in (65cm) from the ceiling. Fold the cable in half and slip the folded end through the washer to form a loop (left). Then thread the two ends of the cable through the loop (below).

Step 2: Pull the cable back toward you and tighten it. Repeat this process for the remaining three lengths of cable to form the base of the plant holder.

Step 3: Paint the bottom of the jar using glass paint. A wavy edge creates the impression it has been dipped. Apply two coats and allow to dry between each coat.

Step 4: Turn the jar upside down. Fit the cable washer base over the bottom of the jar and make four simple knots in each set of cables around the sides, as shown.

Step 5: Separate the cables in two of the sets. Knot two adjacent single cables together at the top of the jar. Repeat with the other three sets of cables.

Step 6: Remove the jar. Add some small pieces of polystyrene to create a well at the bottom for drainage. Then add a layer of horticultural sand on top, and then some potting mix on top of the sand.

Step 7: Water the herb, and slip it out of its original pot. Place in the jar and fill around the edges with potting mix. Check that there are no gaps and then firm the mix gently with your fingertips.

Step 8: Set the jar in the holder, and tie all the ends together at the top. Hang up on a hook secured firmly to a joist in the ceiling or a curtain rod. Water herbs sparingly when the top of the potting mix feels dry.

Growing Tip:

Water every few days when the top of the mix feels dry, but don't overwater them.

Build Suspended Shelves For Herbs

These stylish wooden shelves take just a short while to make, and will allow you to utilize the full length of your window for growing a range of tea herbs. You can also adjust the space between the shelves to accommodate taller plants.

What You'll Need

  • 2 x pieces of timber, approximately 24 x 8 x 3 ⁄4in (60 x 20 x 2cm), cut to size and sanded so the edges are smooth
  • Pencil
  • tape measure
  • screwdriver and drill bit
  • 26ft (8m) sash cord or rope • clothespins
  • herbs, such as mint and lemon verbena, to use for making tea
  • potting mix
  • vermiculite (or perlite)
  • plastic pots with drainage holes
  • decorative, lightweight, waterproof pots
  • watering can


Step 1: Make a pencil mark in each corner of both pieces of wood 3/4 in. (2cm) from the edge. To drill through the marked points, place each piece of wood on an old table or scrap wood. Make holes large enough for the sash cord to fit through easily.

Step 2: Cut the sash cord into four equal lengths of 6ft (2m), or longer if you have a high ceiling. Tie a double knot securely at the end of one length of cord, thread the other through one hole in the shelf, and pull the cord tight. Repeat with the other three lengths of cord.

Step 3: To calculate how much space you require between shelves, measure the height of your plants and add a little extra room for growth. Pull one cord taut and mark this measurement with a clothespin. Repeat with the other cord lengths.

Step 4: Make a knot just above each pin and thread the lengths of cord through the holes of the second piece of wood. Adjust the knots if the top shelf doesn't hang level.

Step 5: Plant the herbs in plastic pots with drainage holes using commercial potting mix with a handful of vermiculite added. Place these pots in lightweight, ornamental, waterproof pots.

Step 6: Make a loop in the top of each length of cord with another secure knot. To suspend the shelves, hang each loop from a sturdy hook fixed to a crossbeam in the ceiling by a window.

Step 7: Place the potted herbs on the shelves, ensuring their weight is evenly distributed so the shelves hang level.

Growing Tip:

Water herbs every 2–3 days

Click here to buy this book.

Cover image, images, and text of Indoor Edible Garden reprinted by permission of DK, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Zia Allaway