Pollinating an Indoor Garden

Plants grown indoors have the same needs as plants grown outdoors,however, there is a major difference. Indoors, the gardener supplies the sun, perhaps in a brightly lit window, perhaps with artificial light, or maybe a combination of both.

The soil used indoors differs from what we plant our vegetables in outdoors and the plant roots rely on the gardener for water and food.

Perhaps the greatest difference between growing vegetables indoors as compared to doing so in your back or front yard is that indoors there are very few helpers. There are no earthworms in the soil, for example. Most significantly, there are no pollinators, no bees, butterflies, wasps and so on, or at least very, very few and most of us are happy that is so.


So what does the gardener, who wants to grow vegetables indoors do. Well, some plants, such as sweet peppers and eggplants, can be manually pollinated. A brush, a small art paint brush can work or even your fingertips. This is time consuming but it will get the job done.

Other plants, such as tomatoes and beans, can't be readily pollinated by hand and some recommend that the plants be gently shaken each day in order to release the pollen.

I have used a small fan for this purpose and been pleased by the results; also, an open window near the plants, lets the breeze in, should it be blowing. Obviously, this is not a good method in cold weather but has worked for me in the warmer months. I like the idea of working with the wind but a fall back method will be needed when the wind is not blowing.

I have heard that some gardeners use an electric toothbrush to create a similar vibration to a bee's wing, but have no direct experience with this technique. Experiment and keep a record of what works and what does not.

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Thank you Toby Hemenway