Vegetable gar­den­ing can be moved in­doors for win­ter har­vest

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LIVING - By Dean Fos­dick

There’s no rea­son to stop growing veg­eta­bles just be­cause cold weather has ar­rived. Sun-lov­ing ed­i­bles can be cul­ti­vated in­doors in con­tain­ers en­riched by sup­ple­men­tal LED lights.

But choose the right plant com­bi­na­tions for this four-sea­son gar­den­ing. Some plants are more de­mand­ing than oth­ers.

“The amount of money and work it takes de­pends upon your ex­pec­ta­tions,” said Tuan Bettes, a hor­ti­cul­ture agent with Utah

State Univer­sity Ex­ten­sion. “You won’t achieve (in­doors) what you would in sun­light.”

Let­tuces, leafy greens, sprouted seeds, radishes, car­rots and herbs are among the eas­i­est plants to grow in­doors in win­ter. They tol­er­ate cooler tem­per­a­tures and lim­ited light. They also ma­ture quickly, and many, like chives and pars­ley, don’t grow tall.

Small fruited or dwarf va­ri­eties of toma­toes and pep­pers also will pro­duce in base­ment gar­dens when ex­posed to the proper light­ing. Be pre­pared to help pol­li­nate your tomato plants, though. Shake them oc­ca­sion­ally to re­lease the pollen.

Help avoid plant pests by seg­re­gat­ing vegetable con­tain­ers from house­plants.

“Never put pa­tio plants next to veg­eta­bles,” Bettes said. “That’s a good way to in­tro­duce aphids and scale in­sects.”

Many peo­ple take the hy­dro­ponic ap­proach to in­door gar­den­ing by de­sign­ing their own sys­tems or by buy­ing any num­ber of high-tech soil-free con­tain­ers with full-spec­trum grow lights at­tached.

Plants grow nat­u­rally and faster— up to five times faster — in the ideal cli­mate cre­ated by wa­ter reser­voirs and LED light­ing sys­tems, said Ben Gill, a spokesman for AeroGro In­ter­na­tional Inc., man­u­fac­tur­ers of a line of in­door gar­dens in Boul­der, Colorado.

“There’s no dirt,” Gill said. “That makes it a clean way to grow on benches or coun­ter­tops.”

Many of these small hy­dro­ponic growing kits can be had in a sin­gle pack­age: con­tainer, lights, nu­tri­ents and pre-seeded plant pods. “They’re one-stop shop­ping,” Gill said. “Just add wa­ter and you’ve got ev­ery­thing you need to start.”

LED grow light­ing has come a long way in a short time.

“They’ve quickly be­come our best-sell­ing items,” Gill said. “They take less en­ergy to run, grow plants bet­ter and you don’t have to change them (lights) as fre­quently — once ev­ery three to five years in­stead of ev­ery three to five months.”

Some hy­dro kits are de­signed to mix the LED light spec­trum to fit growing con­di­tions. That means us­ing day­light white LEDs for fast growth, blue LEDs for larger yields, and red LEDs for more fruit or flow­ers.

“You can lit­er­ally start a Christ­mas tree — a 16-inch spruce — in your AeroKit and then trans­plant it,” Gill said. “You can start your out­door gar­den in­doors and ex­tend your growing sea­sons.” On­line: For more about growing veg­eta­bles in­doors, see this West Vir­ginia Univer­sity Ex­ten­sion Ser­vice fact sheet:

http://anr.ext.wvu.edu/ lawn­gar­den/gar­den­ing-101/vegetable-gar­den­ing/in­door-vegetable-gar­den­ing

DEAN FOS­DICK VIA AP

This un­dated photo taken in New Mar­ket, Va., shows sun-lov­ing veg­eta­bles the ones shown here, which can be cul­ti­vated in­doors in win­ter en­riched by sup­ple­men­tal light­ing. But choose the right plant com­bi­na­tions for your four-sea­son gar­den­ing. Some are more de­mand­ing than oth­ers. Vegetable gar­den­ing can be a year-round ac­tiv­ity with the right in­door growing con­di­tions.

DEAN FOS­DICK VIA AP

This photo shows a soil­less AeroGar­den placed on Shelf in a base­ment in Lan­g­ley, Va. Base­ment gar­den­ing with con­tain­ers and LED light­ing will pro­duce fresh ed­i­bles even in the cold of win­ter. Many peo­ple take the hy­dro­ponic ap­proach to in­door gar­den­ing by de­sign­ing their own sys­tems or buy­ing ready-made soil­less kits with full-spec­trum LED light­ing. This Mir­a­cleGro AeroGar­den con­tainer is pic­tured us­ing seed pots filled with a va­ri­ety of herb seeds that will be ready to har­vest in as lit­tle as four weeks.

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