Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It might be too cold for growing in the greenhouse.... but who cares?

This picture was taken before we got several inches of new snow. Still it's a gloomy picture and we still have several months of this... so rather than be depressed about it...I try to focus my attention on next year's garden plans and buying seeds. I would love to be growing in the greenhouse right now but it's just too expensive to heat during the long winter months. We usually fire up the propane heat around mid March or so and run it until early May depending on the outdoor temperature.

Since I'm not one to let obstacles stand in my way when I really want something....I decided to try growing a few plants indoors. There is no extra cost to heat and light is all you need...what I found though was that grow lights (like the metal halide variety) can be pretty expensive to operate not to mention the cost of the bulbs.... sounds like just another obstacle trying to keep me from my gardening passion....Well, I did my research and found that many people grow veggies indoors all year round with LED lights. They are way cheaper to run as they use 45 watts yet put out as much light as many of the metal halides.

The light that I purchased was about $135 but the bulb life is over 50,000 hours.... I would say that's pretty impressive. My light covers 5 square feet which isn't a lot but if it works then that's fine by me.... I will just buy another one for added coverage... but shhhhh...don't tell hubby.

So far, as you can see (on the sidebar to the right) my tomatoes are doing quite well. In fact, I will need to transplant them soon as they are about 3 inches high. As the plants mature I will keep them pruned by pinching off the new stems that pop up between the branches (called "suckers"). This will make sure they stay compact and put most of their energy into fruit production. The difficulty in growing indoors is to not overwater. If you get too much moisture in the soil you can get mold or something called damping off disease. To avoid this I provide a lot of water at one time rather than watering in small frequent quantities.
Also, I will provide a small amount of diluted organic fertilizer when I transplant to give the plants an extra boost. The tomato plants need approximately 14 to 18 hours of sunlight or they will never produce fruit. Lettuce is less picky....I have grown it in a sunny windowsill during the winter months and it has done fine.

Currently, I have two types of tomatoes, two types of lettuce and one type of cucumber growing in the container. I will also start some herbs in the next couple of days....many herbs will do fine in a sunny windowsill so I won't need to keep them under the light full time. Regardless of how this experiment goes, I will keep posting pictures as the weeks go by..... and hopefully we will be eating homegrown closet tomatoes by February. If not, well then I will call it a nice distraction from the winter months.....happy growing!

This is actually posted by Sunny (I was on Bent's account for maintence purposes).


  1. Good luck with the indoor veg! I was thinking of grow some this year but I not think I will get to it. Things will be started soon though, all the storage onions will be seeded mid jan.

  2. Thanks Dan...I am somewhat skeptical but hopeful that this indoor gardening thing will work...I'm not sure I have enough lights for the tomatoes to flower and produce but I guess we will see. Have you tried growing any indoor veggies? What is your average temp for January there in Canada?

  3. We live in the southern part of ontario so winters are pretty moderate compared to northern ontario and central canada. I would guess our median temp from Jan-March is 23-14f. We do get really cold weather for a few days here and there during the winter, going as low as -31f. We are also surrounded by the great lakes so we can have alot of snow dumped on use at once. I have never tried growing veggies indoors asides from starting them ahead for the outdoor garden. I should really try though.