what crops best for indoor growing

johndoug(z6 Philly)September 22, 2008

i'd like to not just start seedlings indoors, but grow veggies indoors over the winter. i'd imagine vegetables with long taproots would not be feasible. what are the best crops that require a minimum amount of soil for roots? any tips from someone doing this would be greatly appreciated!

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Soil depth isn't your limiting factor, light is. To grow indoors with consistent success requires metal halide and/or high pressure sodium lighting. Assuming you are prepared to shell out a minimum of $600 just for the lighting we can start talking about 'how to'.

Soil, soil-less media, hydroponics etc. It all starts with expensive lighting once we decide to replace the sun.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 10:08PM
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I wouldn't spend the money but here is a product that may work.

Here is a link that might be useful: expensive indoor veggies

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 5:54PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Agree with justaguy's comments. Light will be your primary problem. Even with the greenhouse we need supplemental lighting during the winter and trust me - it isn't cheap to buy or to run!

For most of us, even those with the necessary equipment and growing environment, the cost of indoor winter production just isn't worth it.

But if you want to give it a try, leafy greens are the easiest IMO and they will grow in any container of potting mix.


    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 7:05PM
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mxbarbie(pnw BC 5)

cukes climbing up the wall and tomatoes. You have to hand pollinate but it's easy.
Definatly need a HPS or MH light. I have one 1000w HPS that is enough. It cost me $250 for the bulb, ballast and shade. To run it 16 hours a day costs me .96 cents/day.
It's a pretty cheap hobby that gets me great rewards.
I grew a pumpkin this past winter. I won't do that again! The vines were EVERYWHERE!

Here is a link that might be useful: indoor garden thread

    Bookmark   September 23, 2008 at 8:28PM
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I'm growing veggies on my windowsills right now without additional lighting; I haven't tried in the winter yet but I will. I'm harvesting various salad greens now, and the occasional snap pea (on a trellis), although the peas are succumbing to spider mites. Sprouts are super easy and very quick; I've only tried alfalfa sprouts, but there are a bunch of others you can try; I grow mine in a mason jar with cheesecloth over the top; soak for six hours, and then drain and rinse twice a day for 3-4 days until ready. I've got baby tomato and pepper plants that I'm hoping will grow in the winter; the tomatoes are dwarf varieties, intended for containers. And of course there are herbs -- basil and thyme and oregano and rosemary and mint and chives and catnip (for my cats). I have a thai ornamental hot pepper plant covered in baby peppers; I just touch all the blossoms to pollinate; I'm hoping sweet peppers will work too. I tried radishes, but they never bulbed, so I ate the greens. I just planted day-neutral strawberry seeds. I've also got young fennel and dill and chervil and parsley and summer savory and borage; they seem to be working fine so far, but I'll have to see how they fare in the winter. I'd take a look at the book "The Bountiful Container," which doesn't specifically discuss indoor vegetable gardening, but does describe what size containers you need for various plants.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 10:28AM
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I am pretty new at the whole gardening thing, but have always had the bug to grow my own veggies. For Christmas last year my hubby bought me an aerogarden. I had fresh herbs ALL winter long and well into the spring, PLUS had ample amounts to give away. A few women I work with were well stocked with dill and cilantro all winter. I closed up shop when it was time to get all my veggie sprouts into the ground outside.

I know that they do sell the kits for lettuce, peppers and cherry tomatoes, BUT they have what is called a master gardeners kit which allows you to germinate any seed using the system. My guess is if you have a shorter crop they will do nicely in it. Obviously corn or a vining veggie will not work. This year I plan on taking my toy choi seeds and grow those in the aerogarden. I think they will do very nicely!! Granted it isn't a hardcore gardening system, but still. It itches the scratch for fresh veggies and everything is easily accessible on my kitchen counter.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2008 at 11:46AM
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jll0306(9/ Sunset 18/High Desert)

Take a look at the ContainerSeeds site. I have ordered a few varieties to include as part of a preplanted Container Veggie Garden Christmas gift for various friends for Christmas.

The Broccoli was not mentioned as a candidate for indoor growing, but since it is technically not a fruiting plant, even it might make it with cool temperaures and supplemental light.

I've included my own notes for the selected varieties, but there were many other choices available:

Small Miracle Broccoli

Hybrid. 6- to 7-inch, dome-shaped, tight heads on 1- to 1 1/2-foot plants with abundant side shoots. Can be placed as close as 8" apart. 12" deep, 12" in diameter, or larger. Vendor grew three plants in a 14" diameter container.

Cool Breeze Cucumber

These 5' vines produce numerous 4-5" Fench Cornichon type cukes that are great for making sweet pickles or slicing fresh into salads. This is a all female variety, and will set fruit without pollination. So would be good not only for small gardens but also in a greenhouse or in a brightly lit window. Days To Maturity: 45-49
Recommended Container Size: 1 to 2 plants in a 5 gallon container

Red Robin Tomato

Early-Season Open-pollinated cherry tomato. Determinate, stocky, 1- to 2-foot plants are good for containers and Can still set fruit under fairly low light conditions, for example on a sunny windowsill in winter. Probably more fruitful with supplemental indoor lighting.
Days To Maturity: 55-68\

This is a prolific bearer, and is best grown in a a 10 inch pot. Does not seem to like an open garden environment, and is ideal in a pot on a patio or similar. Very sweet and very hardy plant. Comes back true to type each year from seed taken from ripe fruit.

Sweet Pickle Pepper

Ornamental and edible, too! Upright fruits of red, orange, yellow and purple cover compact plants for a rainbow of color. When the plump, 2 inch fruits ripen to scarlet red, they are very sweet with no trace of heat or bitterness. Excellent for pickling and also great for eating fresh.

A true miniature pepper. The little peppers, in shades of red, orange, yellow, and purple (simultaneously), make this a very ornamental little plant. Unlike most ornamentals, these peppers are sweet* Good for growing indoors in winter, using natural sunshine plus supplemental fluorescent light. Will have peppers approximately 75 days after transplanting outdoors, a little longer indoors.

*NOTE: ContainerSeeds vendor warns that their hot/sweet varieties may have gotten mixed up, so if you want to be sure you are getting the sweet variety, order elsewhere.

Enjoy your winter garden and let us know how it grew for you.


Here is a link that might be useful: ContainerSeeds

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 3:03AM
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jll0306(9/ Sunset 18/High Desert)

I rescind the containerseeds.com recommendation. They have not confirmed my order, and I now find out that they do not have the best service reputation. Nonetheless, their information is useful.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 5:31PM
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jll0306(9/ Sunset 18/High Desert)

Although I never received an order confirmation, my order from Containerseeds.com arrived in a timely fashion.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2008 at 9:29PM
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>>Enjoy your winter garden and let us know how it grew for you

Reporting back I planted 7 Red Robins in January. The plants are very hardy and some have trusses. Plant grows very sloooooow.

Anyone tried these??
Sweet Pickle Pepper
Cool Breeze Cucumber
Small Miracle Broccoli

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 9:28PM
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Stick with leafy greens and non flowering plants to grow indoors. You can grow lettuce, basil, etc. with no problem using a bunch of CFLs.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 9:57PM
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jll0306(9/ Sunset 18/High Desert)

VR, Here's my indoor veggie report:
I'm harvesting from my Red Robins now. I couldn't get the sweet pickle peppers to start, but I have another larger plant with peppers on it. (I'm far enough south to get good winter sun, nullzero.)

The broccoli is growing outside, and I've just started the cool breeze cukes


    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 12:30AM
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>>Small Miracle Broccoli
>>Hybrid. 6- to 7-inch, dome-shaped, tight heads on 1- to 1 1/2-foot plants with abundant side shoots. Can be placed as close as 8" apart. 12" deep, 12" in diameter, or larger. Vendor grew three plants in a 14" diameter container.

Still snowing here (foothills of Cascades)... My planting chart says I need 12-16 plants to feed 2 people. I'd have to buy another grow light to get enough plants.

What can I do instead? I have 1 SE exposure window that gets about 4hrs of sun/day right now. How many hours of sun does such a plant need?

    Bookmark   February 26, 2009 at 12:45PM
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I researched all the best indoor veggies and lighting etc, I started every one from seed indoors. When the time came I couldn't afford even the cheapest shop light (which does work as well as the expensive ones) and the wind prevented anything from going out doors. With LOADS of seedlings and only SE windows I am growing a bounty in my windowsills in pots FAR smaller than the recommendations and WAY overcrowded. I don't even have drainage holes and drip trays I just don't over water and do so daily. It isn't complicaed. Cherry tomatoes, lettuce, garden peas, jalepenos, carrots, soy beans, black currants, herbs, garlic, scallions, and many others which are too young to count as successful just yet but are lush and happy just the same. (pumpkin, zuchini, broccoli, cabbage...) Sure, trying to see through a window is like peering trough a jungle but I love it! Try, Plants don't need ideal conditions to thrive, maybe I'll have less zuchini or smaller tomatoes but I will still count it success, it is fun!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 7:24AM
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I got a aerogarden for christmas and recently bought the seed starting tray. So far great success within 3 days my sweet peppers germinated. 100% every seed that was sown germinated. I also use it in the winter for peppers and tomatoes.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2009 at 11:24AM
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