Coming into the colder months, it’s never been a better time to consider indoor gardening.
If you’re new to vegetable grow lights, getting started can be a daunting process. Luckily, at The Hippie House, we consider ourselves experts on all things grow lights and have put together all the information you need to get started!
From leafy greens to sun-loving fruits and veges, growing indoors with the assistance of grow lights will have you harvesting great crops all year round. Whether you’re looking to get your seedlings started early before moving them to an outdoor crop, or letting them flourish inside until ready to harvest, using vegetable grow lights is an incredibly rewarding experience.
Why grow vegetable indoors?
As the days get shorter and colder, we lose precious sunlight that typically nourishes our gardens. You’ll know your plants aren’t receiving enough light if they begin to grow tall and spindly, and eventually start to sag and wilt. That or they just don't take off at all..
With indoor gardens, a lack of sunlight is no longer an issue. Here’s a few of the best things about using vegetable grow lights:
- All year round - thanks to indoor grow lights, we can ensure our plants receive everything they need to flourish, regardless of the seasons or conditions outdoors.
- More options – as long as you create the right growing conditions, you’ll have a much wider scope of growing possibilities with indoor grow lights. Growing seasonal fruit and veg won’t be an issue as long as you produce the optimal environment.
- No Bugs - If you keep things clean and tidy in your grow room, one of the major benefits of growing indoors is you can avoid spraying your food with pesticides or other nasty chemicals.
- More precise control - from better nutrient control as well as environmental controls, growing indoors with lights can provide farmers and growers with faster and bigger yeilds.
HYDROPONICS SUPPLIES & ACCESSORIES
There's nothing better than starting with a little seed that grows into a healthy plant radiating life, success and happiness.
How much light does my garden need?
Depending on what type of plants you’re looking to grow, you’ll need to alter the conditions of your indoor garden. Once you’ve chosen a good, full spectrum grow light (we’ll get to that later), you’ll need to consider how many hours a day your garden will be under lights.
Here’s a simple breakdown of some common plants that are grown indoors:
- Leafy greens – lettuce, spinach, kale and mint are some great low-maintenance plants to get you started. They are naturally accustomed to colder growing conditions, so won’t require as much light compared to other plants. They’re incredibly good for you too.
- Foliage herbs – basil and thyme are great to have on-hand when cooking at home. These herbs require a little more light than leafy greens, as well as a closer light source. There’s nothing better than garnishing a meal with your own home-grown herbs.
- Fruiting plants – tomatoes, chilies and peppers are great options for indoor growing, however will require the most light. Don’t be put off though, with proper care and attention, these plants will flourish, providing great harvests and yields.
Here are some other great options if you’re looking to expand your indoor garden:
What type of grow light is right for me?
Deciding on the right type of light for you depends on budget, growing space, and the type of plants you will be growing. With so many options available, it’s important you understand the optimal growing conditions for your plant, so they can be recreated with your grow lights.
There are three main categories of grow lights that you’ll want to be on the lookout for:
LED Grow Lights
The future of indoor and hydroponic gardening.
- LED - Light Emitting Diode grow lights provide a high level of performance and great results. They use relatively new technology to reduce running costs with a low amount of heat emitted. This means you can have the lights closer to your canopy without risk of burning your plants. Look for LED’s that provide a full spectrum of light, so that they most accurately replicate that of the sun’s.
Fluorescent Grow Lights
Extremely economical to run and emit little to no heat.
- Fluorescent - fluorescent lights are cost-efficient to run while emitting a small amount of heat. They are convenient for the home-grower as they come in a variety of shapes and sizes, making it easy to fit your garden into smaller spaces. If you're growing a range of different plants with t5 fluro lights it’s a great idea to run dual bulbs that emit both 2700K, which promotes flowering, and 6400K, which promotes vegetation. Otherwise if you're just propagating and growing leafy greens with them your best off just using all 6400K bulbs.
- Ideal for propagation and vegetative growth - you'll see better results for flowering plants with LED and HID.
HID Grow lights
While HID grow lights produce exceptional results they do have their downsides as well - mainly being they produce an excessive amount of heat. If you're growing in extremely cold climates they are actually a great solution as they help keep the heating costs down. In the hotter climates like far north queensland they will froce you to run airconditioning due to their heat.
They are easy to run, have a lot of custoimizations with their reflectors and bulb types as well as the ballast types.
How Do i set up my Indoor garden?
Once you've chosen the type of vegetables or herbs you're going to grow, and you've got the best lights for your needs, the next step is setting up your garden. If you've made the right decisions so far, the next steps should be a breeze!
Here’s a quick rundown of how to setup your indoor garden with grow lights:
- Sew your seeds in trays, planting at a depth of two to three times the seeds’ size. Make sure to use high quality seed and potting soil.
- Depending on your type of light, the fixture should be placed around four to ten centimetres from the soil to create a gentle warming effect.
- A general rule of thumb for sprouting seeds is 16 hours of continuous light, with eight hours off.
- Check the well-being of your garden regularly and watch your plants grow!
Hints and tips
Getting the growing conditions of your indoor garden just right can be a finicky process. It may take a little trial and error before you start to get great results.
If you’re struggling, these tips and tricks might get you out of trouble:
- Timer – using a timer can be a lifesaver, taking the guesswork out of giving your garden the right amount of light. If you don’t have a timer, another good trick is turning the lights on when you wake up, and off when you go to bed.
- Watering – getting the watering right is a huge factor in the overall welfare of your garden. You don’t want to overwater your plants, while the heat from your grow lights can dehydrate your crops. Check the soil each day and ensure that it is moist but not wet.
- Temperature and humidity - whether you're growing in a grow tent or in a room, it's extremely important to have a stable and comfortable temperature and humidity. Each plant will obviously have it's desired preferences in these regards however a good rule of thumb is to have your grow room at 24 degrees. You can get hygrometers which measure these varilables for you as well which we highly recommend!
These handy little meters will measure your humidity and temperatures and even take a daily average for you. This lets you know how hot or cold it gets at the peak time of the day.
All in all, a well-rounded understanding of plants and the types of light they require is the most important thing when it comes to vegetable grow lights. When growing indoors, it is so important to give your plants the growing conditions that are specific to their needs. This means you should be aware of their natural growing environment and do your best to emulate those conditions indoors.
Regularly checking in on your plants, making sure the light isn’t burning them and that the soil is nice and moist is crucial to great harvests. Different plants prefer different types of light, which is why it’s best to have your bases covered with full spectrum lights!
If you’re still unsure about vegetable grow lights and indoor gardening, reach out to our team of hydroponic experts who will help to see your crops flourish!