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Indoor Square Foot Gardening

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Indoor Square Foot Gardening

Post  fiddleman on 3/28/2011, 5:14 am

I've done a search of the forums and so far haven't come up with any previous topics. I am thinking of trying out a Square foot garden in our basement, with very little natural light... so here is what I am thinking. Please tell me if you have any other ideas or thoughts.


  • A 2 foot by 4 Foot Square foot garden nestled inside a slightly larger box which is lined so as to be water proofed on a table top (very sturdy purpose built table). The inside box will be slightly elevated on small rocks to allow for drainage
  • Over the top of that 2 fluorescent shop lights with grow light bulb suspended on chains to be adjustable in height from the box.
  • The lights set on a timer to go on and off by themselves.
  • Cool weather crops (at least at first try, Carrots, Lettuce and the like)
  • The basement is completely dry, so I don't anticipate mold problems.
  • I don't plan any heating mats or anything like that for this garden.
Has anyone tried anything like this yet? If so, any experience or suggestions would be welcomed.

Thanks,
Mark
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fiddleman

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Re: Indoor Square Foot Gardening

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 3/28/2011, 11:36 am

I have only tried to start my seeds inside. You are undertaking quite a task here, but I commend your ingenuity like you wouldn't believe.

A couple things I would also be thinking about...

- Is that enough light?
- How will I grow plants of differing heights?
- Can I simulate the day's heat and night's cooling? This is a VERY important component and an overlooked one. There is something to the diurnal temperature changes that, along with light and dark, gives the plants signals as to when to grow and when to rest.

Read this for more explanation... http://www.hillgardens.com/seeds-whats-wrong.htm
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Re: Indoor Square Foot Gardening

Post  dizzygardener on 3/28/2011, 5:56 pm

Just from my experiences starting seeds under lights, I'd suggest that you need 3 shop lights instead of just two. Your plants on the outer edges will stretch toward the light and may even flop over.

I'd also rig up some sort of reflective box that you can put around your plants to capture and reflect as much light as you possible can. You can rig something up with cardboard and aluminum foil.

what are you trying to grow? If you want to grow warm season plants you'll need to figure out how to keep them warm. If you don't want to use a heating mat you should at least rig up some heat lamps or heater for those warm weather plants.
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Re: Indoor Square Foot Gardening

Post  boffer on 3/28/2011, 6:23 pm

You might research what lights the pros uses to grow their wacky tobacky. Seedlings are one thing; large plants are another when it comes to light needs.

I did a test with a box of cool crops last year that I kept in the shade, no direct sun. I would say that growth was less than 20% of my control box. Plants do appreciate some direct sunlight.
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Re: Indoor Square Foot Gardening

Post  ModernDayBetty on 3/28/2011, 7:31 pm

I wish I could remember the name but I can't. When I was looking up grow lights for doing seedlings in side there are lights (expensive) that move and have the rhythm of the sun. I don't know if they are small and just for seedlings or if they have ones on a larger scale. I believe Home Depot or Lowes as them. Also, I concur with Boffer on the wackytabacky, there are forums for that and they have a lot of info on growing inside, finding vermiculite, and solving lighting issues.
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Re: Indoor Square Foot Gardening

Post  fiddleman on 3/28/2011, 8:00 pm

Thanks for all the advice so far! Backyard, thanks for the link... certain something I will take into deeper consideration.

I've grown some stuff under lights before in the basement, although on a much smaller scale, and I am certain it is doable. I have found some fluorescent lights which claim to be 67 percent more efficient at directing the light produced by the bulbs than standard Shop Lights do to the shape of the cowling. Could be all marketing hype, but perhaps worth a further check. I figure with two shop lights in tandem supported on chains over low growing stuff like carrots and lettuce and the like it would be a good experiment and good experience. As an alternative I have thought about putting in Mylar or chrome painting the reflecting hood of the fluorescent light fixture.

From the stuff I have looked at, 2 shop lights (4 bulbs) should be more than adequate provided they are close enough to the tops of the plants. I would think they should work especially if I install the suggested reflectors .

My concern also has to do with mold as the typical potting mix isn't Mel's Mix. Later, I would be interested in figuring out how to manage more warm season plants, taller plants, stuff like that, but for now I'll use the KISS principle.

When I put it together, I'll take some pictures and let you know how it works.

Mark
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Re: Indoor Square Foot Gardening

Post  janezee on 11/17/2011, 1:22 am

Mark,
Did you ever do this, or did you just move on to the greenhouse instead?
I've just been reading the archives, and got curious.
janezee
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Re: Indoor Square Foot Gardening

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