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Tips to grow vegetables indoor



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nan1234
Chicago Area
Posts: 160
Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 5:05 am   Post subject: Tips to grow vegetables indoor


Growing vegetables indoor is for sure very different than growing them outdoor. I'd like to solicit your great ideas on how to gauge success of your indoor vegetable culture.

Watering. Indoor gardening is no more demanding water than outdoor gardening. You may kill your indoor plants by overwatering if you water them the way you do outdoor. I know that I should not let the soil get dry out and not overwater it either. But how often should I check my plants and water them? I also know that different types of plants require different amount of water, for example, tomatoes and eggplants need more frequent watering than herbs. But can I water them only when they show a slight sign of thirsty?

Pollination. Outside, plants are pollinated by insects and wind. Inside, you have to do the job by yourself. What is the most efficient way to do it? For peppers and eggplants, you can do manual pollination by hand or brush (it takes a lot of time to do it though). But for tomatoes and beans, the pollination is done inside the flower. Someone said that you have shake them every day, or use a small electric fan. Others said the frequency of shaking must be the same of the vibration of the bee's wing, so using an electric toothbrush is very effective.

Lighting. No matter how much light a room has, growing vegetables indoor in winter season needs extra light due to the short day. What kinds of light is better for plants - fluorescent lights, sodium conversion bulb, or any light specially designed for plants? How many watts or lumens will be enough? Will too much light stunt the growth of the plants? This article describes an excellent method to measure lighting strength with a camera: http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/B1318/B1318.htm . I use a timer to control the lights and they will turn on and off automatically everyday. But I think it might be better if lights are controlled by a light sensor. Plants with fruit need more lights than leaf plants. So the position arrangement of indoor plants is very important.

Humidity. Can humidity be a problem - particularly in the winter when it is very dry. What impact it will be on plants? How much the relative humidity should be maintained? Should we use a humidifier or just spray mist on plants? Will place plants close together help to create an environment with a higher relative humidity?

Fertilization. Growing vegetables like tomatoes in containers need lot of fertilizers. Slow acting fertilizers like bone meal and blood meal are sometimes even not enough to meet their hungry needs. You'll need water soluble fertilizer. Some one even suggested that you have to fertilize them every time you water them. Will this kind of aggressive approach cause any problem? Liquid Seaweed/Kelp extract mixed with fish emulsion might be a good choice for a balanced nutrition. But fish emulsion smells and it is not proper for use indoor - at least I don't like the house smells fishy. What else organic fertilizer could be used?

Temperature. Temperature and lighting are often related. Temperature directly under sunny window may become very hot during day and may fall drastically in the cold night. Will this severe fluctuation in temperature stun the plants? Using insulated LowE glazing can help a lot in control the temperature. It was said that LowE coating will block certain spectrum of light and will affect the plant growth. I was very hesitate in deciding whether to use LowE windows for the room to grow plants. But I am glad that I selected LowE windows. Further study shows that plants only use light in the visible spectrum and they do not need harmful UV or IR blocked LowE coating.

Insects. Indoor plants has different kinds of pests. Fungus gnats are a nuisance to house. Adults may fly to every corner in the house. The larvae may damage the roots of the plant and may also spread of plant diseases. I tried yellow sticky cards, BT, and even vacuum, none of them is very effective. This year, I'll try a biological product, a beneficial insect-killing nematodes and see whether it works great. Another possible pest may be white flies. Although they are very small, they have piercing
mouth parts which allow them to such plant sap. They are persistent and very hard to control once established. I found a good source for dealing with white flies: http://www.bugspray.com/article/whiteflies.html . This article mentioned a product called Bifen Foggers which is very effective but does not mention how toxic it is. I doubt that it is safe to use in house.




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petunia

northern michigan
Posts: 2283
Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 11:32 am   


I was just wondering Nan, what state your from since, like me you move alot of your plants inside when cold weather hits. By your article sounds like you might be a horticulturalist. We have greenhouse we're going to be keeping warm for our tomateo's and pepper plants and maybe a cucumber plant or two.

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nan1234
Chicago Area
Posts: 160
Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:26 pm   


Hi Petunia, I am living in Chicago area. I am not a horticulturalist and only started gardening since last winter. Most things I wrote are based on my experience, lessons learned and what I want to know. I have read a lot on gardening.

From the picture you posted in another topic, I see you have many tommato plants in green house. How do you solve the pollination problem? I remember during last winter, my tomatoes performed very poor and most of the flowers fell off.

You tomato plant pot does not look very big. How do you keep them grow well? How often do you apply fertilizer and what kind of fertilizer do you use? During last winter, I think I did not apply enough fertilizer for my plants.

You have a big greenhouse. Is it heated? What temperature do you have in the greenhouse during winter? In my greenhouse, I set the temperature 10 degree below the room temperature last winter. It was 62 during the day or 75 during a sunny day, and 50 in the night. Maybe the temperature is not high enough for cucumbers. My cucumbers died young but there could be a lot of factors. Temperature could be one and fungus gnats chould be another.

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petunia

northern michigan
Posts: 2283
Posted: Fri Oct 12, 2007 1:57 pm   


This year will be our first year actually keeping tomatoes or any vegetables in this greenhouse. Last year was my first year with a 12 X 15 greenhouse but I kept flowers like Nasturiums, hanging petunia, geraniums.
I did nothing to pollinate these and they were fine by the time summer came around. we put up a bigger greenhouse this year and thought we'd try vege's. We watch the amish up here and learn from them. We will be using a small wood burner to keep in the heat at about 60-65 degrees. I will keep them somewhat fertilized but as my husband found out one cannot over fertilize. As an experiament we have brought cuttings from our cucumbers in and will see if they continue to grow. I'm not real worried about the pollination as I see we already are having tomatoes coming on our plants. We'll see how things turn out. Everything was just an experiament as I like working and being around plants and gardening. If it works I'll be posting pictures from time to time.

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nan1234
Chicago Area
Posts: 160
Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:33 pm   


Petunia, you probably kept doors and windows open during the summer season so bees and wind can enter into your greenhouse. My plat room is connected openly to the house and I cannot open any window or door even during the summer or a nice day in spring or fall.

I move one tomato plant indoor in september just for experiment. In just a couple of days, its flowers start to fall off without forming fruits. Only a few flowers have fruits and they are probably already pollinated when they were outdoor. Then I move the plant outdoor, and it start to form fruits again.

Poor pollination will cause no fruit or small fruits. Greenhouse tomato growers use electric vibrator or cultured bumblebee for tomato pollination.

Now, I've got five tomato plants indoor. I shake and puff their flowers every day. It seems working to some degree. For a more effcient way, I will buy an eletric pollinator or use a leaf blower.

I havn't found a working way to pollinate hyacinth beans yet.

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kneidl
North West
Posts: 8
Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:05 am   


How interesting this discussion is. At first I thought that you were talking about growing vegetables inside the house! I realise that you mean green houses. I haven't got a greenhouse, but we have a conservatory can I grown vegetables in there. It has no heating in it and it faces south so hot in summer(if we have one) and cold in winter. We have blinds on the windows and I live in the north west of England UK

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petunia

northern michigan
Posts: 2283
Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:49 pm   


Nan1234, our plants in the greehouse do have a few tomatoes on them, maybe they were already pollinated. But I try moving or shaking them slightly and carefully as I water them and remove any extra stem we don't need. This also helps them from getting too bushy.
We also have pepper plants-they already had baby peppers on them when we brought them in. All my flowers seem to be doing really good so far: geraniums, 2 pots of mixed plants, begonas, merigolds, small jumping jacks, impatients, my nasturiums, I also have 3 small plants of them but I expect those to do well. I have a bunch of wondering jew plants too. just can't get rid of those, they're very hardy.
If I get too bored thru the winter I will just try and see what else will grow.

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nan1234
Chicago Area
Posts: 160
Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 8:29 pm   


Kneidl, we do not have a greenhouse either. We built a sunroom last year for the purpose of planting. It is heated and openly connected to our house. I think your conservatory is a great place for vegetables during the widnter season. If it is connected to your house, you may consider to expand your house heating system to the room. Or you can install a space heater sunc as wood stove, gas heater, or electric heater. As long long as you can keep the tempreture above frozen, you can grow many kind of cool season vegetables - swiss chard, lettuce, reddish, pak choi, spinach, turnip, leek, etc. Because you place is sunny during the day, you can also try to put heat absorbing material such as stone/brick with dark color or water in black containers to absorb heat during the day and release heat during the night.



Last edited by nan1234 on Mon Oct 22, 2007 12:50 am; edited 1 time in total
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nan1234
Chicago Area
Posts: 160
Posted: Sun Oct 21, 2007 8:43 pm   


Hi Petunia, even I tried to shake and puff tomato flowers every day, there are still 30% of flowers fell off. I do not know yet whether the fruit formed will grow to its normal size. I also found different species have different results. Tumbler tomatoes have the best result for self pollination. I am looking for an ideal electric pollinator. The cheap one ($16), according to report, can be broken easily. The expensive one ($170) is probably too much because I only have a few tomato plants. I will probably try a sonic electric toothbrush.

Because all plants were moved from outside, aphids and white flies are found on plants. I have ordered a pack of lady bugs. The smallest package I can get still has 1500 bugs - just too many for my small space! I've already applied Scanmask for fighting fungus gnats.

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sps601
kelowna canada
Posts: 1
Posted: Wed Oct 24, 2007 10:18 pm   


i am currently growing vegies and starting fruit trees indoors. i have tarragon chives and parsley flourishing except that the parsley doesn't seem as green. im waiting to see if my tomato trees pickup. im worried about them as they came from gardeners choice as a container of seeds and i couldn't find the seeds...also not sure if my will grow each year...i have a couple of questions regarding light in my home. i am using full spectrum fluorescent tubes i have 2 sets and then i have a fan light. its really bright but im not sure if its bright enough for my containers. can anyone help me out with that?

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kneidl
North West
Posts: 8
Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 11:29 am   


to Nan 1234,
thank you so much for your reply I had not thought of putting a heater in there, do you know if I can use seeds that are for spring planting now sorry I am very new to the idea of gardening indoors Stew Face 2

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petunia

northern michigan
Posts: 2283
Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 12:38 pm   


Nan: For you inside bug problem you can get a spray called Malathion. It'll help kill those white flies and garden insects.

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petunia

northern michigan
Posts: 2283
Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 12:43 pm   


Kneidl: If your want to grow seeds or bulbs indoors for next spring, I would suggest doing container growing and use this site for help: wintersown.org. Other then that I have tried to do seeds like herbs, but I do them inside my house. Hope this helps.

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nan1234
Chicago Area
Posts: 160
Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:16 pm   


Petunia, thanks for the information. My sunroom is also used as a living space too and we have many activities in the room. Malathion may break down into malaoxon that is 60 times more toxic than malathion. It is said that malathion, when sprayed indoor, can poison the occupants. When it is used as a treatment for head and body lice, I guess you have to wash it away before it breaks down.

I just released a bag of laybugs yesterday. It seems that they stay indoor pretty well.

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nan1234
Chicago Area
Posts: 160
Posted: Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:19 pm   


To sps601, the strenth of the light also depends on the distance of the light to the plants. You'll need to put them as close as possible. This article describes an excellent method to measure lighting strength with a camera: http://pubs.caes.uga.edu/caespubs/pubcd/B1318/B1318.htm , and have a table to show how much light you need for your plants.

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