Bina
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Location: Sylvan Lake, Alberta

What vegies grow indoors during the winter?

Has anyone had any luck trying to supply a goodly portion of their vegetable diet over winter by growing vegies in pots under lights?
How's it done well? Right now the little flats of spinach and mesclun mix look fine a little leggy but fine I increased the light and I am using the grow lux wide spectrum lights to provide the lighting. The cucumbers are coming up great and will need to be repotted but how do I do this well.
If I'm going to go to the trouble of trying to set up a garden in the basement I may as well do it right and well from the start. Do I need to paint the wall for better light reflection? What have people grown? I want to try and supply at least 20 to 25% of our vegies out of the basement this winter. Lofty goals but if I can just think what can be done next year. There has to be a way to this and even with a little variety, bok choy got sewn last week and this week I want to do another pot of Baby Butter Lettuce some of the seeds are for the Japanese market and are made for containers which I hope will help. Tomatoes are tiny tims etc so that should help with size constraints but has anyone got any tricks or tips to make this little experiment work better. :D
Bina
"We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively..."and I will begin in my backyard.

glindow
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This sounds like a really interesting experiment and I may have to try something similar in the future. I am actually thinking about starting some lettuce myself on our front porch/sun room.

I don't have a lot of suggestions, but coming from a horticulture background I would suggest you keep a really close eye on your lighting especially in a basement. Most plants don't have a lot of luck seeing the light from a fluorescent light unless the light is right above the plant. This has to do with the way fluorescent lights work.

Temperature also makes a big difference and though cooling season crops like lettuce, kale, cauliflower and broccoli should do well in a cool basement, things like tomatoes, which love heat and bright sun light won't do nearly as well.

What exactly does your basement look like? If there is a sunny window I would say use it over grow lights. If not, well use lots of lights and keep them as close to the plants as you possibly can without letting the plants touch the light. Painting the walls white would probably help too and consider some under bed heating if you can pull it off.

Sorry, I know this reply is all over the place, my brain isn't working as well as it should be this morning, but I hope these thoughts help. Be sure to let me know how things go.
I have a B.S. Degree in horticulture from the University of Wisconsin River Falls.

I have a personal website too, but can't link it since its not exclusive gardening content. :(

Bina
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Location: Sylvan Lake, Alberta

Thanks for the hints

Thanks for the hints and after Christmas I will do some fiddling down there to make things grow better. However we already have had a couple of salads although the lettuce is not as "thick" as what I get out of the garden so I think my biggest issue is the moisture right now. The temperatures seem to be ok and the outdoor dryer vent keeps cool season stuff cool and the hot air vent on the other side seems to keep the tomatoes warm enough.
Again thanks for the information and like I said as soon as I get through Yule life will be much slower and easier to manage.
Bina :wink:
"We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively..."and I will begin in my backyard.

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applestar
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I wonder if another reason for the lettuce leaves not being "thick" could be lack of breeze/wind? I remember reading somewhere that you should lightly brush across the tops of tomato seedlings once a day to make them more sturdy before setting them out, but that might bruise lettuce leaves.... Hmm... drag a lightweight cloth (I'm thinking something smooth and billowy like silky scarf or parachute nylon) over them? Maybe run a fan on a timer or create a natural draft somehow? (I think if you do this, you'll probably need to water a bit more often)

This really IS an interesting experiment! I'm looking forward to your updates. :wink:

glindow
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I am not sure I would recommend trying to grow crops outside in boxes and baskets in a place like Alberta, :|, which is where our original poster apparently is. It gets colder up there than it does in Wisconsin and we have had 15 degrees below zero for the last few days. No unheated box is going to do well in that situation and just exposing an unprotected plant to that kind of temperature can do a lot of damage.

I think you could try that particular trick in a warmer climate though, zone 5 or higher maybe?

I am also not an expert on lettuce but do know that it can get bitter if you don't water it enough. My best guess as to the thickness is a lack of air movement, though the limited light is probably a factor too.
I have a B.S. Degree in horticulture from the University of Wisconsin River Falls.

I have a personal website too, but can't link it since its not exclusive gardening content. :(

Bina
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Location: Sylvan Lake, Alberta

The Alberta weather forecast for today

Yes I am one of the insane gardeners that live in Alberta and today as I look out my window it is blowing a north, north east wind with snow and the temperature is about minus 20 degrees Celsius with a wind chill of minus 28 degrees and this is the warmest it has been all week. I have seen minus 40 a couple of days ago and that is cold no matter Fahrenheit or Celsius. I hate to say it but there are days when global warming.......you get the idea. On days like that you hope that you have nothing to do but sit in front of the fire with a cup of tea and the gardening catalogs. In my next life I am coming back as a bear, especially if I have to live north of the 49th again they get to hibernate!
So try a breeze or silk scarf brushing hmmmmm might be worth a shot as well as misting more in between watering. :idea: I think I might have one of those cheap plastic desk fans that would fit down there without the poor things thinking that they are in the middle of a cyclone.
Oh and we officially have cucumber flowers today. Out with the paintbrushes! I'll keep you posted on progress of experiment. :D :D
Bina
PS I'm off to be a bee :lol: :-()
"We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively..."and I will begin in my backyard.

Merrie
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Location: Red Deer, AB

Your lighting setup?

Bina, I'm very new to this and very interested. What are you using for a lighting setup?

Bina
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Location: Sylvan Lake, Alberta

Hi Merrie

:D Hi Merrie
Welcome to the forums and my experiment... :oops: actually the truth is it is my vain attempt at trying to ignore an Alberta winter. :D I am so tired of 30 below and the dark and snow and scraping windows and did I mention the 30 below. I want to say come on Chinook but if we get a big one then we lose our snow cover. So we're darned if we do and frozen if we don't :D
What I have done is gotten a couple of four foot long pre wired fluorescent light fixtures from the local Rona and bought a couple of full spectrum grow lights into both of them. Using the chain hangers and a couple of cup hooks I attached them to the bottom of a couple of shelves in my basement laundry room, with a timer power bar and an outdoor extension cord. I planted 6 pos of tomatoes which are about ten inches tall and starting to bud for flower set and when they do I'll use a paint brush to pollinate them. I planted four pots of cucumbers and I have had flowers, I have little cucumbers even but they are not doing well and so I will plant the rest of those seeds out doors in spring. I had great hopes for those cukes as well since they were from Japan and special for containers. I also planted lettuce, spinach, bok choy, and a mesclun mix for salads and stirfries.
The garden is just a little neglected right now since I am running off my feet with Christmas. I keep you posted on how my little garden grows.
Bina :)
"We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively..."and I will begin in my backyard.

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Hydrogardener
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Growing vegetables indoors under lights.

I have been growing lettuce, oriental vegetables and some flowers successfully indoors under lights for two years using hydroponic methods. There are new fluorescent fixtures that produce full spectrum light that encourage plant growth. My fixture has six T5 tubes and produces just under 30,000 lumen. It is possible to grow enough lettuce for my wife and myself using a standard size heavy duty folding table. You can purchase light hangers that allow the light to be adjusted like a window shade. In my opinion, the value of the vegetables I produce exceeds the energy cost, which is minimal.
If there is any interest; my blog has illustrations, and some of the older posts have examples of home built systems.

https://hydroponicworkshop.blogspot.com/

Bina
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Joined: Sat Nov 01, 2008 2:45 pm
Location: Sylvan Lake, Alberta

Great pictures :D it was so nice to see how well you're doing and you're right there is something soul satisfying about picking lettuce out of the basement. It is my own personal way of defying winter. My bok choy will be ready in a very short time to try in a stirfry :) we have had several salads and I am enjoying having tomato plants in my kitchen window in December. 8)
I know nothing about hydroponics but I have heard that is an amazingly efficient way to grow vegies at home. Your set up definitely sounds like it is bigger than what I have in the basement. It all seems to be working though and the fan is working quite well at thickening up the lettuce leaves. I would love to hear more about hydroponics though and how it would work for things like cucumbers because mine didn't work out as I wanted. I am on a well and my water is hard, really hard, :? so that does throw a wrench into the works I would imagine.
But as I said great pictures and I love how your garden grows. :D
Bina
"We would stand a better chance of survival if we accommodated ourselves to this planet and viewed it appreciatively..."and I will begin in my backyard.

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Hydrogardener
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Location: Upstate New York

Re. What vegies grow indoors during the winter?

Bina,
You are absolutely right about defying winter with indoor gardening :!:
I have no experience with hard water as we have municipal water, however, I do know that nutrient mixes are available for hard water. I guess it would depend on what minerals were present in your water. The fan is essential, as it will not only strengthen the plant, but also move the air around, as plants need C02 during the day and they use up the C02 around the leaves quickly. I use an inexpensive timer for 30 minute cycles during the day.
I tried cucumbers last year and gave up. They were growing but not setting fruit. Additionally, they were taking up a lot of room and making a mess. I did grow them in the greenhouse this year but you really need a variety that sets all female flowers. One of the older posts on the blog shows the cucumbers in the greenhouse. You might check your library for How-To-Hydroponics by Keith Roberto, it is a great read. I got interested when my wife bought an Aerogarden. I was darned if I would spend twenty dollars for six seeds :twisted: and began exploring how she could use the system with her own seeds. The result, I got hooked. :roll:



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