Setting up an indoor garden is a wonderful option for city dwellers and those with limited outdoor space. It is also a great way to extend your growing season.
The key to successful indoor gardening is proper lighting. Where full windowsill light is usually sufficient to start seedlings, growing strong healthy vegetables indoors does require the addition of grow lights. Here are our recommendations for grow lights:
-Full spectrum LED or fluorescent (either regular or compact bulbs) light sources
-Height adjustable to accommodate your growing plants
-Large enough light source for all of your growing plants
One major benefit of using LED grow lights is they do not generate much heat. That means you can keep your plants closer to the lights to give them high light levels without burning them. Another benefit is full spectrum LEDs provide all the light temperatures plants need. Though they cost a bit more up front, LEDs are super-efficient. They use half the electricity and last 5x longer than fluorescent bulbs.
Fluorescent lights are more affordable to buy, and may be a good choice if you're new to indoor gardening or want to grow just a few plants. There are different color temperature fluorescent bulbs to choose from. Cooler, blue light temperatures (6500k bulbs) promote seedling and vegetative stages. Warmer, red and orange light temperatures (3000k bulbs) promote flowering and fruiting. You can start with a cool temperature bulb and in the later stages of plant growth switch to a warmer bulb, but for simplicity we recommend choosing a 4100K color temperature bulb, considered a neutral light, for best all around light for your indoor vegetable garden.
Tomatoes and green beans require the high levels of light. They also take up a lot of space, each plant growing to about 24” in height. Lettuce, carrots and radish can tolerate low to medium light levels and stay relatively small and compact. Keep this in mind when choosing your lights and your indoor growing location.