Friday, October 10, 2014

The Indoor Garden: Lights

The most important element of success in indoor vegetable growing is light. Light determines how long plants remain active and is essential for photosynthesis.

You need to pay close attention to light intensity as it affects the manufacture of plant food, stem length, leaf color, and flowering.

The intensity of light a plant receives indoors is dependent upon how close the light source is to the plant as you move away from the light source light intensity decreases.

This means you are not likely going to be able to grow much in the way ofvegetables relying solely on light from a window.

Before planting anything asses the area where you plan to set up the garden. Consider the factors, paying close attention to available light. If you are planning to grow vegetables, in quantity, indoors, you will likely need to add lighting.

Sweet peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes are vegetable garden favourites but they like other fruiting vegetables have high light requirements. There are other choices such as salad greens and lettuces whose light requirements are less.

After lighting the next most important choice is your growing medium which is basically either a soil mix or hydroponic. If I do decide to grow more than culinary herbs for personal use indoors I will use an appropriate hydroponic system.

When it comes to indoor lighting sources the illegal grow op has lead to the development of equipment that will assist you to set up an indoor vegetable garden.

It is possible to guide your garden from seeds to fruit under fluorescent lighting and the gardener who wishes to do has a number of options.

The standard fluorescent bulb can be used to start seedlings and for salad gardeners they can suffice throughout the whole season as long as the bulbs are close to the plant tops, say about four inches above them.

Compact fluorescent grow lights may be more efficient but will cost more and still may not provide the green peppers and tomatoes the gardener seeks.

The best solution for growing fruiting vegetables (tomatoes, peppers etc) indoors may well be a combination of metal halide which puts out an intense light that is high in the blue spectrum and ideal for vegetative growth and then switch to high pressure sodium lights.

The high pressure sodium lights favour the red and orange spectrum which is needed for the development of fruits.

To effective grow fruiting plants indoors under artificial lights you are likely to need to switch three times as the as the metal halide are too strong to start seeds.

Stage One: Fluorescent grow lights for getting started

Stage Two: Metal halide for vegetative growth

Stage Three: High pressure sodium for fruiting.

This may not be advisable for the home gardener who seeks to turn a basement into a vegetable garden, unless herbs and salad green are the desired output. A greenhouse in the yard may be a preferred alternative.
There is another option that is making some ground LED grow lights are reputed to be very efficient, my suggestion is do your research before buying anything.

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