There are some really cool ideas for indoor gardening floating around the internet. To the unaware, they might not work out that well.

DIY hydroponics setups are hot. A great looking idea that is really creative or has great artistic aesthetics gets shared on tons of blog and magazine type sites. It’s exciting to see the growing interest in raising food indoors too, but some of these ‘how to’ ideas will or could have poor results.

One thing I noticed while being led from site to site through links was that most of these ideas showed no grow lights in use! If there is sufficient sunlight available year around to support this growing experiment, you live in a land without winter. Almost tropical.

I don’t know where in the world you are, but one cilantro plant grown in front of a south window at the 45th parallel in North America will give up and die by about Christmas. There are very few sunny days during this part of the year. Head another hour or so north and snow comes even earlier, so the prospects are even more dismal in most of Canada. Adding a good daylight spotlight isn’t enough either to replace this absence of the sun. You need either a LED grow lamp or a good CFL grow lamp here to succeed – whether you’re growing it in a standard potting soil container or in a hydro setup. If you forget to turn the light on, even thin plants won’t be possible. Be sure to get a timer – you will forget.

An ingenious idea you might have already seen somewhere is the ELIOOO vertical hydroponics setup made with a fountain pump and IKEA parts. It is cool and will be really inexpensive, but the design lacks grow lights. Still, the rest of what he’s got going on in this inexpensive how-to book has definite possibilities and the finished prototype is not without crafty urban style artistic value. The concept behind Antonio Scarponi’s design is highly commendable too… grow your own food using inexpensive, easily attainable items.

Hydro Pods: Vertical Garden Screen Next is the chic looking, design award-winning Live Screen that is featured on lots of popular indoor garden blogs. This isn’t a DIY unit, but everyone is digging it, yet once again there is no grow lighting. Danielle Trofe, the designer is in New York which also has more cloudy than sunny days from November until mid-April. House plants that prefer shady conditions would work, but basil? Sorry, this is a full sun type of plant. Add grow lights for the cold season in the north.

An Experiment Named DisasterFinally, here’s exactly the type of idea anyone should avoid! His journey from germination bed concept to present shows he is making great progress in designing his growing setup. The two posts make for some entertaining reading on the geek goes hydroponic for the sake of fresh chiles and sci-fi. Looks like he might just have better results this time around. Part One and Part Two

Indoor food growing requires lights from mid-autumn to late spring.

Tammy Clayton

Tammy Clayton

Content crafter and Senior Editor at Garden Culture Magazine
Tammy has been immersed in the world of plants and growing since her first job as an assistant weeder at the tender age of 8. Heavily influenced by a former life as a landscape designer and nursery owner, she swears good looking plants follow her home. (Some feel she's got a perennial obsession, others say the problem is tomato plants.)

If you don't find her at the desk - check the gardens. When not writing and weeding, she enjoys a good book, painting junk furniture, and blending the harvest of heirloom tomatoes and chiles into salsas.
Tammy Clayton

Latest posts by Tammy Clayton (see all)