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Planting The Seeds of Climate Action in Your Home: A Guide on Gardening Indoors

By: Aleena Delangen

January 24th, 2024

The following piece is written by ClimateActionWR volunteer and university student, Aleena Delangen. We know that taking climate action can look different to each person based on what’s accessible to them. Thinking about gardening your own food to reduce your carbon footprint but don’t have access to an outdoor garden? Don’t worry, the following blog will guide you through a potential solution that will break it down into smaller chunks so that growing your own food indoors feels less intimating. We hope that this piece can give some inspiration as you continue to live sustainably.

Planting The Seeds of Climate Action in Your Home: A Guide on Gardening Indoors

By: Aleena Delangen

If you; like many of us, live in a smaller cozy space with little-to-no access to a yard, and feel that a community garden is a little too intimidating, then gardening indoors is for you! Whether you are a student like me with a single room, or maybe you are someone who has a little more space to spare in an apartment, townhouse, or even house- gardening indoors is a fun, sustainable, and extremely rewarding project. 

The grocery store is a convenient way to quickly get all the goods you need, but this comes with fault. Pumping emissions from the transportation of products across continents, while altering and degrading ecosystems in order to create huge plots of land for both livestock and growing crops; the modern process for producing our food can be highly unsustainable and harmful to our environment. Choosing gardening can both save you money at the grocery store, reduce your enablement of unhealthy food production processes, while providing you with a fresh, tasty food source.

With a little effort and care, anyone can try this at home. Regardless of the limited or expansive amount of time you have for gardening in your day-to-day life, there are many ways you can choose (or avoid) certain plants to fit the time you have available. Brightening a room with greenery while keeping the air clean, gardening is a sustainable and fun way to reduce your household’s contribution to the harmful processes of industrialized agriculture1.    

1 “Industrial agriculture is the large-scale, intensive production of crops and animals, often involving chemical fertilizers on crops or the routine, harmful use of antibiotics in animals (as a way to compensate for filthy conditions, even when the animals are not sick).”

Choosing a Plant That Fits You:

There are a number of plants that generally do well growing in pots indoors. As mentioned before, it is important to consider the need for pollination when picking which plant species to grow in your garden. Below is a list of plant ideas that might work for you; with the benefits of each varying from having low carbon footprints, accessible to grow at home, or are climate resilient:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Green Onions
  • Jalapenos
  • Snap peas
  • Microgreens
  • Rosemary*
  • Thyme*
  • Oregano*

*TIP: The above three pair well together for watering conditions and frequently are potted in one. 

  • Basil
  • Mint2
  • Dill
  • Cilantro
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers

Jalapenos and snap peas are particularly interesting species of plants as they can “self-pollinate”. These plants have flowers (which grow into the fruit or veggie) which are “perfect flowers” containing both the male and female reproductive organs that are required for pollination. This means that these plants have flowers but do not require any extra work to spread the pollen in order to produce the food. 

2 Mint grows most effectively if you ‘nip back’ its growth. This means plucking the top leaves from the plant in order to stimulate fuller growth.

What you will Need:

  1. Seeds- Check out organizations such as Nancy’s Creations and Seeds, Seeds of Diversity, and many other seed companies in Canada.
  2. Small sprouting pots
    • Recycled-Such as egg cartons, yogurt cups (poke holes in bottom for draining), OR
    • Purchased pots
  3. Tray for drainage
  4. Dome cover/ humidity dome
  5. A light source
    • A sunny, warm spot, OR
    • A grow bulb and lamp3
  6. Spray bottle
  7. Larger pots for when growth continues

3 Recommended LED to conserve money and electricity. Purchase a bulb with natural light colours displaying broad full spectrum light.

Growing from a Seed:

When starting with seeds, it is important to consider providing a perfect environment for germination or sprouting for your plants. This means thinking about things like temperature, light exposure, moisture, and pot size. Different plant species require vastly different conditions, so be sure to look into the plants you want in your home before building a space for your indoor garden. 

Dampening your soil before putting it into the pots for sprouting is an important step in order to avoid the disturbance of newly set seeds. If you water directly on top of freshly laid seedlings this may move the seeds or push them deeper into the soil making it harder for them to first sprout out of the dirt. In the same sense, you should be using a spray bottle or bottom watering4 when watering your seedlings to avoid the issues above. Generally, seeds should be misted twice daily (or enough to keep the soil damp) until the sprouts poke through. 

Another tip for encouraging the first sprouting is using a dome lid. Dome lids help keep the seeds underneath in a humid and warm condition by creating a greenhouse effect5. which reduces the need for such frequent watering. An important factor to keep in mind here is circulation and timing. For circulation, it’s important the dome has some degree of ventilation- either built in or manually poked holes. Once the seedlings sprout from the dirt, the dome lid should be removed to ensure the seedlings have adequate access to light and flowing air in order to grow strong and avoid molding.  

4 Bottom watering is when your pots are placed into a tub of water instead of watering on top of the soil. Here the plant will absorb water through the hole in the bottom of its pot- only what the plant needs and no more. Can be left in the tub until water stops being absorbed.

Greenhouse effect: When rays of sunlight are able to go through a clear surface, then getting trapped inside unable to escape back out through the clear surface. This is what heats up cars so heavily on warm days.

Troubles and Care:

Watering and Moisture:

Excess water can put your plants at risk. Having too much moisture that is unable to be used by plant enables the risk of root rot6, molding, and even pests which nest in moist soil like gnats. 

Each plant type will require different amounts of water, but there are a few general rules that will help you avoid overwatering and sitting water. Starting simple- plants are best in pots that fit them. It is important to choose a pot that fits just a centimetre or two wider than the previous pot. This ensures you are providing your plant with enough growing room while avoiding extra soil space where the roots will not be able to reach the water. Bottom watering will also help avoid excess moisture as the plant will only absorb the hydration it needs and will not leave the top of the soil wet. 

As mentioned before, each plant type needs different amounts of water. Getting to know your chosen plant type and watering only when the plant needs is a difficult task, but key in perfecting your garden’s growth. 

Light Fixtures:

If you decide that using a grow light is best for you and your garden, there are a couple things to keep in mind to find the best-fit for you. Generally it is recommended to use a bulb with natural colour that is broad/full spectrum light. It is also helpful to look for a LED bulb in order to reduce excess electricity use along with the cost of the electricity bill. Knowing that your plants are going to grow taller, it is important to consider the need for a vertically adjustable lamp to ensure that your plants are getting the best light exposure for them. When setting up the lamp, it is generally best to keep the light 2-3 inches away from the plant itself. Again, every plant is different, so learn more about your plants in order to provide them with the best conditions for growing. Staying on top of adjusting the height of your lamp is important to avoid sun-burning your plant when the leaves grow too close. Plants typically need 12-14 hours of light exposure, so be sure to either turn off your light or have it on a set timing cycle.

Some Options for Lighting:

  • Small single-plant lamp
  • Various angles clip on lamp
  • Double set of rectangular lights
  • Large hanging lamp


When choosing which plants you want to grow, it’s important to remember that many flowering plants require pollination in order to produce the fruit or veggie. Especially when gardening indoors, you want to choose the plant species that fit your day-to-day life best. Manual pollination7 is possible and not extremely difficult, but definitely cuts out an extra chunk of work for the gardener. 


If you do have access to a yard, and plan to replant your indoor garden in the warmer weather, it’s important to be conscious of the influence of your plants on the surrounding environment. Many plants are invasive and are hard to control if planted freely in a garden bed. For example, the mint plant is invasive to Ontario’s ecosystem and grows at extremely rapid paces which enables it to easily overtake your garden. Due to this, it should be kept in a pot all year round. Be sure to look into the plants you have and how they do or don’t fit into our ecosystem before replanting into a garden.

6 Root rot: When the roots of a plant sit in moist soil and extra water too long and result in the rotting of roots. Appears as soggy roots and can harm the plant drastically if not managed in a timely manner.

7 Manual pollination: Can be done by shaking the plant, or by using a brush to mix the pollen into the other flowers. Different methods are required for different plants to produce the best results. For tomatoes, shaking the plant will likely work. Though for cucumbers and zucchini, you might find the best results with using a brush and transplanting the pollen to each flower. The use of a fan might also be beneficial to continuously shake the plants to promote pollination.

Re-using in the Garden: 

As discussed earlier, there are various ways a gardener can re-use items like recycled yogurt cups and repurpose them. When growing plants we can do the same sort of thing to create separate new and smaller plants. 

  1. The first method to produce new plants is collecting the seeds from your mature plant to regrow. Many plants produce accessible seeds if you allow the plant to grow to maturity like snap peas, jalapenos, tomatoes, etc. Other plants mentioned like broccoli and kale are known to cross-pollinate with similar species and may produce a hybrid of the two plants. In situations like this, it might be better to avoid this issue by re-purchasing the seeds when re-growing. 
  2. The next method is propagation. This means cutting an offshoot from a plant to then place it in water where it sits in a sunny space to produce roots. From here the cutting can be planted in its own pot and will grow to full size. This method can be used for several of the plants listed including rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, dill etc.


Overall gardening is a really fun, engaging, and fulfilling project to practice at home. Try new versions of familiar plants, experiment, and share with your friends! Although intimidating at first, gardening really just takes patience and interest. Take advantage of the endless amount of information online for tips, tricks, and suggestions. If you want the best results, I suggest thoroughly learning about the needs of each plant you choose.

 Happy Gardening!

Additional References

Grow Microgreens!. Mumm’s Sprouting Seeds. (2023)

Grundberg, E. (n.d.). Saving Pepper Seeds. Power Point.

How to Use a Humidity Dome for Seed Starting. Bootstrap Farmer. (2023, February 26).

Vinje, E. (2018, October 11). Doin’ the Pollinate Shake! Planet Natural Research Center.

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