Why and How to Successfully Start a Basement Garden

Last Updated on March 9, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

If you live in the modern world, you probably know that gardening doesn’t really have to be strictly an outdoor affair. As a matter of fact, some of the first indoor gardening practices on the planet can be traced as far back as the mid and late 1800s if not earlier. 

Yet to date, people from all over the world take up indoor gardening as a hobby or an activity that helps provide a continuous flow of fresh, organic, nutritious food items as opposed to spending money on gas and checkout at the grocery store.

And the beauty of it is that an indoor garden can be situated just about anywhere inside the home as long as there’s adequate space and the conditions are favorable for the plants being grown to thrive. 

Depending on what you’re growing and how much you need to grow, you can do it in your living room, your bedroom, a hallway, your basement, patio, or even an enclosed balcony.

And, of course, the basement!

basement garden

The basement is increasingly becoming a great choice to set up a garden for homeowners who want to put their green thumb to the test. But growing your own herbs, ornamentals, or food plants in that possibly cold, humid, dark, and perhaps poorly-ventilated space under your home’s ground floor can easily seem to be a complex impossibility at first.

Well, it doesn’t have to be so, and it doesn’t take rocket science to start a successful basement garden. 

Find out from the pointers below, why you should start a garden in your basement, and how to ensure it is successful.

Benefits: Reasons Why Basement Gardening Is Great 

A basement garden is one of those home improvement projects you will hardly regret starting as long as you get a few things right. Essentially, basement gardening provides several benefits that can easily compel any gardening enthusiast, hobbyist, or would-be beginner into getting started right away. 

Below are some reasons you might find convincing enough to start cultivating plants from your basement (or turn it entirely into a cultivation hub for your favorite plants).

You Can Grow Plants Year-Round:

If you are like many gardeners, being able to grow certain types of plants year-round as opposed to only during the growing season is nothing short of fascinating. And, one of the good things about basement gardening is that it gives you the ability to grow flowers, herbs, vegetables, fruits, trees, shrubs, and small plants – you name it – throughout the year, including the winter months.

Easy To Control Temperature And Other Factors:

The entire concept of basement (and greenhouse) gardening revolves around ensuring your plants are given the right amounts of temperature, sunlight, humidity, soil, moisture, and to a lesser extent, proper spacing. 

Since you are in control, it gets easy to take good care of your plants and provide them with just the right levels of what they need to do well.

A Great Option for Those with Little Space:

Most of the average suburban homes feature little to no space to grow some plants, especially the more fragile types, ornamentals included. So, instead of tending to these types of plants at the back of your yard, or even in a conventional garden, you can easily grow them in a basement.

It’s Budget-Friendly:

Growing your own food can be very rewarding when you consider that it’s cost-effective and simple. And with your very own basement garden, you can make your own water tank for watering your plants and even keep records of which type of food you grow the most.

This is not to mention that maintenance can be lower, especially since indoor gardens are less accessible to pests and natural predators of plants. If you do it right, you might even be able to sell your own produce, if not share some with your neighbors and friends.

How to Successfully Start a Basement Garden 

As you can already tell from the pointers above, starting a successful garden in your basement requires some serious thought and planning beforehand. Of course, you will want to prioritize certain crucial elements, including space, light, soil, aeration, and temperature, just to mention a few.

Tips for Successfully Starting a Garden in Your Basement 

The following tips should help break the seemingly complex concept into something even a “green gardener” can easily grasp. 

Read on!

1. Light: Find the right lighting solution 

As earlier mentioned, basements are some of the darkest rooms in many homes. And as you may already know from your basic biology, plants need an adequate supply of light to make food, grow, and stay functional enough to produce the expected yield.

But the fact that your basement doesn’t receive much if any sunlight at all doesn’t have to make you shelve your dream. Today, all you might need is to install some led grow bars, and your lighting challenge is gone, thanks to modern-day advancements in the tech world. 

Not only are these artificial lighting fixtures effective at promoting plants growth, but they are also designed with cost-effectiveness in mind, and they won’t significantly affect the temperature of your basement garden.

Here are a few take-home pointers about plant grow lights for gardening.

  • Red lights may enhance budding, flowering, and fruit growth
  • Blue light is said to promote vegetative and foliage growth
  • Different plants and growth phases may have different lighting needs, making it essential to research beforehand

The bottom line is that you can grow almost anything in your basement garden, as long as you give it enough light (with all other factors constant).

2. Growing Space: Adequate space for what you intend to grow 

The space available in your basement will be a huge determinant of what you can grow, and how much of it you can cultivate. If you’re growing different kinds of crops, you will probably do better with smaller or dwarf varieties as they can help save space. 

Besides thinking about raised bed gardening method, and greenhouses, you may also consider container gardening if you’re a bit short on space since it lets you utilize your space vertically.

When it comes to container gardening, make sure to choose the right size of container to suit your space as well as the plants so they don’t have to compete so much for nutrients. Some plants also do well in growing pots as long as there’s proper drainage. Biodegradable containers are a great option if you’ll be growing seedlings too.

3. Earth: Don’t forget to test your soil 

At this point, you have some space in your basement, and you also have an idea of what plants you intend to grow. You’re most probably in the process of ordering your lighting fixtures and supplies. However, very few plants will do well, or thrive at all without the right kind of soil and nutrients. This is why testing your soil is important and should be done before starting the garden.

Some plants prefer slightly acidic, well-drained soil, whereas others do better in acidic soil. In most cases, you will have to enrich the soil with compost, peat, and sterile vermiculite if you want your plants to do well. 

The soil you use for your basement garden should also be sterile and free from pests that can harm your plants. This is particularly why vermiculite, alongside improving the soil’s aeration and water retention.

4: Air: Have a plan for proper ventilation and temperature control 

Air conditioning is another incredibly important aspect to take into consideration when starting a basement garden. As humans do, plants need air to convert food substances into energy, from which they extract carbon dioxide to facilitate the process of photosynthesis in conjunction with light.

If the environment they’re grown in doesn’t have enough air, many plants wither and die off due to the lack of energy. Conversely, some plants won’t survive or thrive well in a place that’s too cold or too hot. This makes it crucial to ensure proper ventilation in your basement before starting a garden down there. 

The success of your endeavor will largely depend on it. All the same, different plants may have different requirements for heat. For instance, peas may require less heat compared to plants like peppers and tomatoes.

5. Choose ideal plants that you can comfortably take care of 

We mentioned the importance of choosing the right plants for your space, right? However, some plants can be more challenging to grow in the basement, and this can make your gardening efforts feel like a waste of time. 

For this reason, it is best to understand which plants might do best in your basement, especially when getting started. 

For inspiration, you can start with plants that won’t kill your hopes, including:

  • Swiss chards
  • Lettuce
  • Radishes
  • Spinach

Maintaining Your Basement Garden 

Finally, you’ll need to understand all that it will take to maintain your basement garden. Besides ensuring an adequate supply of light, fertilizer (preferably organic), and water, a huge part of garden maintenance also involves regularly checking your crops for any pest infestation or abnormalities. 

Especially crawlers and climbers, some plants may also need tying, pruning, and weeding to maintain their best performance.

In case you’ve been on the fence about starting a garden in your basement, you now have a few compelling reasons to take the plunge. It’s actually easy and incredibly fun as long as you have the basics covered. 

The above few pointers will hopefully see you transform the space in your basement into a beautiful source of veggies, fruits, herbs, flowers, foliage, or whatever you love most!