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can I garden in my basement?

 
Karen Briggs
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Hi everyone.

I was wondering (well, actually my husband started my wondering, so I think I should give some credit) if I can have a garden in the basement.

Currently, we heard the weather was going to get cold, so we uprooted our garden, put it in buckets, and brought it downstairs.

So, a bit about my basement.

It is a basement; not a walk-out basement.
It has basement windows. You know those dinky 12"x18", never gonna open, ground level, windows. In other words, yes there is light but not as much as you would get on the main floor.

There are two areas that I am considering.
  • Area A would be right below a window that faces north. It would be on a counter-top in a finished room that has traffic and has heating.


  • Area B is bigger. Part of it could be counter-top right under the east window, another section would be in the sunlight but on the floor, and another would be in the "shade" (still has light, but is more in the shadow of the room). This area is not finished, has no heating, and has a draft. (this is the area that we put the plants in)


  • Then the next question is what can I grow?

    Thanks in advance. I have no idea what I am doing, but with your help I can learn.
     
    Jeanine Gurley
    pollinator
    Posts: 1399
    Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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    I'm no expert at indoor gardening but for what it's worth here's my two cents:

    You will probably need artificial lighting of some sort for just about anything you grow.
    Greens such as lettuces, bok choi, spinach and other cool weather crops might be fooled into low light situations.
    You could also over winter some pepper plants - they probably would not produce but by next season the pepper plants would have a head start. I read about that in a permaculture pamphlet and am going to try it with my pepper plants this winter.

    Good luck and maybe someone else with more experience can tackle this question. I'd like to see what you come up with.
     
    Carson Beauregard
    Posts: 14
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    I've had some experience gardening indoors, and would definitely advocate it for people living in cooler climates who need their gardening fix when its -20 and there's 4 feet of snow outside. As for the setup you have multiple options. Essentially there are 4 different types of lights you can use.

    CFL's work great if you are looking to grow microgreens, regular greens, seedlings and mature plants no larger than say 2-2.5' high. They don't put off a huge amount of heat, but enough to maintain a healthy temp inside an enclosed space, and they are super easy and cheap to setup. The downsides are that they have to be positioned pretty close to your plants, so that they receive enough lumen's for proper growth and even worse is that they are full of super toxic substances, so if you do break them in your house, you might get a case of the mad hatter syndrome, or develop cancer sometime later in life. Prob best not to buy them at all, unless you have absolutely no choice.

    The second and third choice's would be either a High Pressure Sodium(HPS) or Metal Halide(MH) light. Of the two I would choose High Pressure Sodium as it has a more balanced light spectrum, which will be more appropriate for both the vegetative and fruiting cycles of your plants. The benefits are that the lights give off a much higher amount of lumen's which essentially means better a quality and more intense light for your babies. This will allow you to grow full size plants of any kind, depending on the size of the pot. The downsides are that they are fairly expensive depending on which size you get. You need to purchase both the light and the ballast, so they range from the 100w hps which will cover approx a 3x3x3 foot space for about $100, to a 1000w hps which will cover approx a 10x10x10 foot space for $600-$1000. The best choice in the middle of the spectrum, in my opinion, would be 400w hps, which you can generally find for $150 to $300 and will cover an area of approx 5x5x5. They also produce a fair amount of heat so you will require a fan of some sort to ventilate the area.

    The fourth choice would be an LED grow light. Unfortunately I do not have any experience with these other than doing some amateur research on some indoor growing forums. They do seem to be the best choice though, in terms of effectiveness and efficiency, so long as you can find a reputable brand.

    The one thing that you need to be aware of when growing fruiting plants inside is that in order to begin producing fruit they need a change in the number of daylight hours to darkness. So for good vegetative grow, or green growth, they need about 16 hours of light to 8 hours darkness, and for fruit production they need about 12 hours light to 12 hours dark.

    An example of plant that only needs vegetative growth would be lettuce, unless you wanted seeds. And tomatoes would be an example of a plant that needs the light cycle changed to 12-12 in order to start producing fruit.

    It is also very important that they are not disturbed during their dark cycle. Plants get stressed out and don't grow as well if they are interrupted during their sleepy time. So if they are in a room in which the lights may be turned on periodically during their dark cycle, it is best to section them off behind some kind of makeshift light proof curtain. You could just throw them in a closet, as long as the ventilation keeps it at a good temp.

    So.......Hope this was helpful

     
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