Q & A
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Hi David –
As you know, light is the most important component of your indoor growing set-up. If you want want abundant harvests, it must be intense. Not only is the kind of light you use critical to your success, it will determine how healthy (and productive) your plants are. Advances in spectral display and intensity of T5 fluorescents make them a good choice for the casual indoor vegetable gardener. They produce low heat, are energy efficient, affordable and very easy to use.
Indoor growers looking for impressive vegetable yields should consider High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights. They range in size form 250W to 1,000W and it’s important to fit them to your garden space. Typically a 1000W grow light will cover a 10 ft x 10 ft growing area (100 sq ft). Do NOT skimp on light.
HID lights are of two types: metal halide (MH) and high-pressure sodium (HPS). Both require a remote ballast to provide the proper operating voltage. Most gardeners recommend MH lamps to encourage vegetative growth and “bushiness” while discouraging upward growth. Their blue-white spectrum is perfect for growing leafy greens. HPS bulbs radiate light energy in the yellow-red-orange spectrum and stimulate fruiting and flower production. They’re ideal for peppers and tomatoes.
Note: Most plants need about 10-14 hours of light per day in order to grow. Plants that produce fruit or flowers will need more: up to 18 hours per day.
Al-righty, with the basics out of the way let’s take a look at the veggies you want to grow inside.
• leafy greens (lettuce, mustard, kale, arugula) — T5 fluorescent, compact fluorescent or metal halide throughout
• tomatoes — Start with metal halide and switch to high pressure sodium
• beans — I recommend bush varieties. Start with metal halide and switch to high pressure sodium
• peas — probably not (they are a cool weather crop)
• herbs — Most culinary herbs will do well grown under fluorescents or MH lamps. However, HPS bulbs are best for the flowering stage of herbs grown for their blossoms: chamomile, calendula and borage among others.
• bunching onions — T5 fluorescent, compact fluorescent or metal halide throughout
• broccoli — T5 fluorescent, compact fluorescent or metal halide throughout
• peppers (heard these were hard to grow/get a good yield off of so i’m not sure yet) — Start with metal halide and switch to high pressure sodium
• Berries (blueberries, strawberries, maybe a raspberry) — Hmm. you’ll have your best luck with strawberries. Start with metal halide and switch to high pressure sodium.
Hope this helps!