An indoor vegetable garden

Indoor vegetable garden
Winter here usually starts in November and lasts through April. Snow and heavy frost during those six months reduce our growing season to a mere 180 days. That is why most native crops bolt into action when spring finally arrives, so their seeds mature just before the first frost kicks in.

The sunrise around 8:30 and sunset around 4:15 this time of year also makes most office-dwellers not see the sun for several months during workdays. Not only can that become depressing after a while, it can also cause a vitamin D deficiency, resulting in poor calcium absorption.

I have 5.1 kW of solar panels on my roof, transforming sun light into electricity. Last fall, I decided to try and use some of that electricity to re-create sunlight in my kitchen to grow some vegetables during the winter and also create full-spectrum light for our bodies to transform into vitamin D.

The setup you see in the picture has:

  1. Two 34 watt full spectrum fluorescent tube lights for the top layer
  2. Two 12 watt full spectrum LEDs for the bottom layer
  3. A fan that will create a nice breeze to head off any diseases.
Since the plants grow right above the sink, watering is very easy, Every time I do the dishes, I give the plants some water if they look dry, And since I am standing there doing the dishes, I absorb the full spectrum light.
Timer for the lights
The lights are on a timer; they come on at 5:30 in the morning and go off at 9:30 pm. The fan, which makes a lot of white noise, is on a separate timer and kicks in at 10:00 pm when we are no longer in the kitchen. It runs for about a half hour and the fan is angled toward the window so that the winds bounces off the glass and all the plants get a nice gentle breeze, enough to dry any water that fell on their leaves. Last year I did not have a fan and had a lot of problems with fungi causing leaf rot; the fan seems to have solved that for this year.
Fan pointed at the window
From left to right on the top shelf:
  • Parsley
  • Mini cherry tomato
  • Chives
  • More mini cherry tomato
  • Grass that my daughters insisted on growing
  • Basil
Left to right on the bottom:
  • Peppers (just started last week, has yet to sprout)
  • Mint
  • Mesclun salad mix
Growing plants indoors is easier than I thought it would be; if you put them close enough to the lamps, this artificial sunlight is just fine for most plants and they grow as they do outside if you add some water and fertilize them every couple of weeks. Not all plants work inside though; I had no luck with strawberries and the basil went through a rough patch but seems to thrive now.

Do you have any suggestions for vegetables or fruits that do well inside? 

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