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Old 05-28-2008, 05:00 AM   #1
Steve Liberati
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Indoor Gardening

My wife and I have been meaning to start a garden this year in our backyard but just haven't got around to it yet. Planning to grow various berries, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, herbs and a few other greens and vegetables. So the other day on my way home I passed by a store selling indoor hydroponic gardening supplies and decided to stop. The guy working (who was half stoned) told me all about the different systems and I left the store feeling pretty excited about getting started and growing my own year round indoor garden. Later driving in the car I couldn't help but think about the whole idea of growing a garden using artificial light and having fruits and veggies out of sync with the seasons. Isn't fruit and veggies and herbs supposed to be grown in the ground adding life to the natural life cycle of the earth anyway? Besides the ethical reasons, can produce grown indoors match the quality of produce grown outdoors or is it better?

So what are your thoughts on indoor gardening?

Please share your experiences.

Thanks,
Steve
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Old 05-28-2008, 05:20 AM   #2
Casey Raiford
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Re: Indoor Gardening

You can certainly grow produce indoor year round, but not from the same stock for very long. Most of the stuff you're probably interested in performs best as annuals, that is one or two turns of crops before flavor and overall quality start to drop off. Also, you'd need to germinate your own seeds as starter stock for fruits and veggies is highly seasonal. Fertilizer may be a sticking point depending on where you stand vis. organic/chemical. You can get grow lights from $10USD up to several thousand depending on how sophisticated you want to go.

All that being said, your best first step is of course research. I'd check out websites of some of the big seed retailers like Burpees. They've embraced the web and have great tutorials, FAGs and starter kits.

Is it worth it all? If you eat a lot of fruits and veggies, it can be. Home grown herbs like chives, oregano and parsley seem to be much higher quality than normal grocery store stock, and far chaeper than Whole Foods and other specialty grocers.

Hope that helps.
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Old 05-28-2008, 07:44 AM   #3
Casey Raiford
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Re: Indoor Gardening

Ooops...that should read FAQs...very sorry for that.
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Old 05-28-2008, 06:02 PM   #4
Steve Liberati
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Re: Indoor Gardening

Thanks Casey. Very helpful post.
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Old 05-28-2008, 07:35 PM   #5
George Husack
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Re: Indoor Gardening

Steve

I have been growing a garden for the past four years and find it to be very rewarding. I usually start seeds indoors around the late February. I have a 30x30 plot plus two 4x8 plots. I also planted 25 strawberry plants this year. I also have a wide range of blackberries and rasberries that bear fruit from end of June to early fall. Its great knowing that you do not need to run to the grocery store for expensive berries or gassed tomatoes.

As for growing indoors I usually just start seeds and then transplant them outdoors. I have never tried growning items year around inside. A book that I would recommend "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life" talks about eating fruits and vegatables in season.

Good luck with the garden start small and watch grow overtime.

George
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Old 05-29-2008, 01:10 AM   #6
Casey Raiford
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Re: Indoor Gardening

Yeah, that's a good point George makes about starting small. You'd be suprised how easy it is to wind up with 8 dozen tomatoes at once.
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Old 05-29-2008, 09:33 AM   #7
Tristan Warneke
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Re: Indoor Gardening

Steve, I wouldn't personally go hydroponic. I helped out in a greenhouse that grew hydroponic (water grown) tomatoes year round and they were the largest tomatoes I ever have seen, but they seemed to be 90% water, pretty tasteless and not as nutrient packed as ones grown in the ground. You can grow things indoors in soil, but it seems that the outdoor environment during the summer has lots of benefits for plants... who knew...???

I like George's way of starting indoors before it is warm enough out, though my dad and I don't do that. We have strawberries, several types of raspberries, some herbs, rhubarb, and a few other things growing in some gardens around our house and we just tend to them (trim, transplant, thin, weed, fertilize and mulch as needed) when spring rolls around since these plants come back every year. I can't wait for about 2-3 weeks from now when the strawberries are ripe!

Best of luck looking into it Steve. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
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Old 05-29-2008, 11:18 AM   #8
Amy Tompkins
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Re: Indoor Gardening

I don't think the technology is at the point yet where indoor-grown foods have the nutritional quality to match outdoor-grown, but I could be wrong.

Still, humans have been employing tricks to extend the growing season since long before there were grow lights and hydroponics. I live in a northern climate so like a previous poster, my garden is mostly started indoors and then transplanted outside. To extend the season in the fall I do often bring plants in to my home. I have an unheated sunporch that gets lots of sunlight during the day, so I can keep peppers, tomatoes, and herbs growing up to eight weeks after the first frost hits. The plants seem to be happy to finish maturing in the sunporch, but they don't really continue growing per say. Plants that I start indoors are always weaker and more spindly until they've been outside a few weeks - it toughens them up.

I'd recommend a mixture of indoor/outdoor. I don't think you could grow a whole lot of food for yourself strictly indoors - it would require a lot of time and space. For indoors, you could try dwarf-variety plants, herbs, and greens. You'd probably want to look for seeds or plants with labels that indicate a short maturation period, or that are labeled as "container" plants. I'd try a "cut-and-come-again" lettuce mix, a dwarf/cherry container tomato variety, and then some herbs. That would make you a nice salad anyway!
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Old 05-29-2008, 01:08 PM   #9
Travis Rieber
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Re: Indoor Gardening

There's a new machine out that provides a hydroponic system for growing herbs. My parents bought the machine and the herbs they've grown so far are good but definitely blander than the herbs grown outside. They seemed to suffer the same fate as Tristan's tomatoes, watered down and missing flavor. With this in mind, the herbs still have plenty of flavor to be useful and the system provides an extremely convenient way to always have fresh herbs on hand.
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