View Full Version : Inflation Protection: Grow leafy vegetables and herbs indoors

03-07-08, 03:53 PM
If you are interested in doing some gardening at home in order to protect yourself from rising food prices, my suggestion is to not immediately dismiss the possibilty of gardening indoors. Quite a bit can be accomplished with inexpensive, high output T4 and T5 flourescent bulbs, water, a growing medium, nutrients and some elbow grease.

Growing Edge Magazine (http://www.growingedge.com/magazine/index.html), Letter to the editor:

Is it possible to grow vegetables indoors in the winter? (http://www.growingedge.com/community/archive/read.php3?c=ED&q=1213)

You will want to start by evaluating the climate in the area where you would like to grow. Measure what the high and low temperatures are. Then you will know if you will need to provide any supplemental heating. If you have good, bright sunlight in the area on a regular basis during winter, you might be able to avoid using artificial lighting. However, keep in mind that fruiting vegetables, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers, have high light requirements. Some vegetables that have lower light requirements include lettuce, other salad greens, and some herbs. If you need artificial light, you will need to decide how much you want to spend on lights. If you have some good sunlight in the area, you might be able to get away with supplementing with cheaper fluorescent lights. Get the highest wattage fluorescents you can and use a mixture of cool and warm bulbs to provide a better spectrum for your plants. More dedicated, high intensity lighting, such as metal halide (good for vegetative growth cycles and nonfruiting plants) and high pressure sodium (good for flowering and fruiting cycles) lamps can be expensive to purchase and operate. Plants grown in an enclosed area also require regular air exchanges. Stale air needs to be ventilated and fresh air introduced at least once or twice a day for optimum growth. This rate of air exchange needs to be increased when growing a larger number of plants. This process of air exchange can be as simple as positioning two fans, one for air introduction and one for venting, at select locations. When growing in soil, make sure it is sterile, friable, and includes a good amount of composted organic material. Fertilize according to specific crop requirements.

This may sound complicated but it really isn't once you have evaluated your growing area and have set up some basic environmental controls. You can start pretty basic, grow some plants, and see how they do. Just try to provide the best environment for plant growth that you can. Our Online Q&A Archives (see http://www.growingedge.com/community/archive/topics.html (http://www.growingedge.com/community/archive/topics.html)) has a lot of information on growing indoors that can be applied to either a soil-based or soilless environment. If you every have any specific questions that aren't answered in the Archives, please feel free to ask.

As for LEDs, NASA has been experimenting with using them on ships and the international space station.

The technology is slowly becoming available for commercial greenhouses, but not as of yet for home-scale size projects.

Along those lines, Solar Oasis and Cree are working on some very exciting stuff. (http://www.solaroasis.com/llynx.html)

03-07-08, 06:13 PM
You should also look at sulfur lamps
See Plasma Lighting Systems (http://www.lge.co.kr/cokr/product/lighting/light_01_list.jsp)

and sulfur lamp wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur_lamp)

also http://www.sulphur-plasma.com/

03-07-08, 07:32 PM
Very interesting, thanks Rajiv, I will look more deeply into this.

At 100 lumens/w, they are comparable in efficiency with the T5 flourescents bulbs.

03-07-08, 11:59 PM
And for those that wish to remain outdoors:

Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long (http://www.amazon.com/Four-Season-Harvest-Organic-Vegetables-Garden/dp/1890132276)

THE WINTER HARVEST MANUAL (http://www.fourseasonfarm.com/main/harvest/harvest.html)

The traditional fresh produce season for market gardeners in the colder parts of North America begins in June and ends in September. For the past eight years, in defiance of our long, cold Maine winters, we have been developing an environmentally sound, resource efficient, and economically viable system for extending fresh vegetable production into "the other eight months." We call it the "winter harvest." Our success thus far is very encouraging. We currently sell freshly harvested salads and main course vegetables from the 1st of October until the 31st of May.

This manual records our recent experiences in planning, carrying out, and fine tuning a fresh vegetable production and marketing operation on the back side of the calendar.


Now that "organic" foods have become an international business, and more and more bulk organic produce is shipped from far-away places, the "organic" label alone won't help local growers compete. The most important word to stress now is "fresh!" No matter who grew it or how well it was grown, long distance produce is a week old by the time it gets to New England. Week-old food is not "fresh." That is why knowledgeable food buyers eagerly seek out local produce during the summer months. But to make a real difference in creating a local food system, local growers need to be able to continue supplying "fresh" food through the winter months. Our goal has been to do that without markedly increasing our expenses or our consumption of non-renewable resources.

The "winter-harvest," as described in this publication, can produce high quality, organically grown crops for fresh sale during the traditional non-farming months in all parts of the country by using locally available resources and inexpensive climate modification. It achieves that aim by combining the biological potential of cold-hardy vegetables with the minimal protection of simple greenhouse technologies. The cold-hardy crops are appropriate to the season ad the simple greenhouse techniques are appropriate to the needs of those crops. We think this minimalist approach has potential for growers in any part of the country where winter presently constrains production.