Lighting requirements for small indoor winter container gardens????

Asked August 18, 2016, 8:30 PM EDT

I have an extra bedroom ( 10 x 12 feet) with east window ). We would like to continue over the winter growing our container vegs. Bak chou, cherry tomato egg plant, spinich, I was thinking of an area 6 x 8 feet centered in the room, on heavy plastic sheet with 2x4 under the edge as berm, old carpet on plastic to protect it. What would be required for light source?? Thinking 8' 4 buld florecnt. ??


2 Responses

It will be relatively easy to grow leafy greens like pak choy and spinach indoors under lights. However, it may be more difficult with cherry tomatoes and eggplant -especially if these plants have been growing outside all summer. Bringing them indoors into a completely different environment / light / temperature may result in little / no fruit as these plants require considerable warmth and light to produce any fruit. You may find you only have green plants after while. You will need to provide at least 16 hours of light per day. You can purchase a timer and plug your lights into it, then plug the timer into the wall socket. You can used a combination of daylight and standard, inexpensive fluorescent light ballasts ("shop lights") and bulb. Set it up so you can adjust the light height to be about 6" above the top of the plants. Note you'll have to adjust it as the plants get taller, so hanging the ballast on chains or a floor stand would work.

It helps to have a small fan(s) blowing on the plants and circulating the air. It may also help with pollination a bit. You will want to scout for indoor insects like spider mites and fungus gnats and eradicate them right away. Avoid packing your plants into one space, but make sure you space your plants apart so you can allow for air circulation around each plant.

You will also need to hand-pollinate these plants as they are typically pollinated by wind with some help from insects. Here's a video on cross-pollinating flowers by hand. It's shown on a lemon tree but the same process applies:

Cherry tomato varieties can be very large plants. You may want to instead grow patio tomatoes - these are plants that are bred to be compact in size and still produce. 'Tumblin' Tom' is one variety we trialed in Master Gardener state seed trials and it performed well. Likewise, look for smaller eggplant varieties that will produce, but not get too large.

Feel free to reply with additional questions.

Thank you Julie. Plan to start all the winter plants from seed or cuttings.