Looking for Something?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Indoor Garden Box............ FAIL

by Michael

(After 2 months)
Sometimes the best part of gardening is the dreams. It is the time before you plant and work when you think of all the beautiful fresh vegetables and fruits that you will harvest in the future. We received an indoor garden box through a trade this last December and we had wonderful dreams of Spinach, Carrots, Onions, and Cilantro dancing through our heads. We thought about the nice spinach salad we would be able to partake of without going to the grocery store. Alas, sometimes dreams are just that, dreams.

We planted and toiled over our garden the last two months (well, we really didn't toil) and this is what we received. Some measly spinach leafs and a miniature radish. The plants are long and stringy and aren't filling out. According to the guy that gave us the box, he said we would have spinach within 3 weeks. This has been an INDOOR GARDEN BOX FAIL.

One measly radish
As gardeners, we are used to failure. There are many things that can cause failure, some in our control, and some out of our control. The key is to keep trying, keep moving forward. We are still determined to have our Spinach from our indoor garden box. Marisa believes our plants our stringy because the light is too far away, and they spent all of their energy trying to get closer to the light. We will try again with the light closer and maybe two months from now I can sit down to a nice spinach salad. If not, we will do more research and try again. That is what a gardener does.

Do you all have any suggestions on what might have caused our failure. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Julie said...

How big is your box?

Anonymous said...

I noticed that your lights are at a fixed height. I have a homemade plant box, but the lights are long shop lights (regular bulbs--you don't need anything special unless you have flowering plants). The lights are suspended by linked chain. At first, I have the lights about an inch above the seedlings. As the seedlings grow, I shorten the chain to raise the lights, keeping them about 1" above the seedlings. This seems to work very well for starting plants in the spring for setting out in the garden. So you might try reworking your box to allow you to raise and lower your light source. Another problem can be heat.

Most plants need a certain soil temperature to germinate and grow well. If you have the box in an area that is not warm enough, the plants will grow, but not vigorously. Because we all have to conserve energy these days, and often lower our thermostats to do so, you might locate your box in an area that is warmer than average in your home (near the stove, on top of the fridge, in a warm, often used bathroom, etc). If there is no warm place in your home, a simple heating pad (such as you use for a sore back) works, although it does draw energy.

Good luck on your next crop! Don't give up.

Dani said...


I notice that you seem to have CFL light globes, with what appears to be a reflective material behind them. I have an "African Violet" under a CFL and it is not happy. I think perhaps your bulb needs to be a normal incandescent in order for the plant to get sufficient light.

And yes, I agree with Anonymous, a bit of warmth for the box? If that is not so readily available, how about putting a "blanket" around the sides, to retain some heat?

Dani :-)

BePartial said...

Don't give up the experiment! This is NOT a failure, this is a learning experience. I "farm" my lunch salads in my office where I work in flower pots and recycled containers. I have found that it is ALWAYS the light. Temp is important to germination, but most homes are in the right range. If you are not overwatering (I prefer sub-irrigated or self-watering planters) then the deal breaker will be the light. Fluorescents suck unless you get the right temp. bulbs. I use a combination of a warm and a cool bulb. You need the more complete spectrum for vigorous growth. What provides the light for growth doesn't help as much for the flowering and fruiting, and vice versa. Consider an LED approach if you can afford it.

You will have success in indoor gardening, you just have to see the light.

Laura-Lisa said...

Another hint is to keep a small oscelating fan on them for a few hours a day it helps mimic the wind and strengthens the stems...

marisa said...

Thank you guys for your suggestions, maybe I won't give up on this quite yet.

Julie, the box is about 1 foot wide, 2 feet long, and 5 inches deep.

Elaine said...

Is that reflective material permanently in that position or can it be moved and expanded? If you can't adjust the distance of the lights from the plants have more of light reflect back into the box. Also, I'm not sure about mixing so many plants in one container. They're all competing against each other for the same resources. I think if you thin the herd the remaining plants will do better. Experimenting is fun, don't give up!

Stiggy said...

Good luck with this - it's not something I would try, but then I'm rubbish when it comes to gardening!

I hope your next batch goes better for you.


David said...

I was thinking about this very thing for next winter. The suggestions will be very helpful for my basement box growiing experiment. I know that light is the most important thing when growing inside plants.

Have a great inside growing day.

Rachelle said...

Yeah, I have a grow rack that I have 2 4'-long florescent lights on each of the three levels which each hold 4 standard size trays. being able to adjust the light to about two inches about the growth is key. I have found the minimum lumens needs to be 3300 to 3400. There are a lot of the florescent lights out there under that so be sure to check.

It is always the light.