Best Indoor Garden Options?

Hello,
I'm interested in eating healthy and on the "cheap" as well, so I thought that I would try to grow my own lettuce and herbs indoors. This is where my knowledge on this subject ends. I see something called the Aerogarden, but is it any good? I do have a bit of a handyman's side, so I could build my own hydroponic or regular indoor garden...but I'm not sure how to proceed. Are there any good books or kits for this purpose? Does anyone have any experience on this subject and can offer me some "Be sure to do this" or "Make sure you stay away from that" advice?
Thanks Sam
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A friend of mine grew lettuce indoors from November through April in upstate NY (which I mention in case anyone understand the angle of sun in winter in this area). She used nothing but potting soil in window boxes.
Tell us about your windows. Which way to they face. For instance: north, south, east or west?
Do you know what I mean when I say "window box"?
Could you put a window box on your window sills, or a table right up against the windows?
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I'd start with some herbs, because you don't need a large number of plants. For example, basil does well indoors *IF* you have a sunny window (summer only; it won't deal with low-light conditions like winter). Rosemary, oregano, thyme - been a while since I've done this indoors but I think those all were fairly low-trouble.
In fact, sun is the biggest challenge. Look for a sunny window (south facing is sunniest, others things being equal) and get whatever tables/shelves/etc you need to have the plants right next to it. Few if any food crops will take the kind of low-light conditions that many houseplants can cope with. If you have a balcony or window box (outside), by all means use it, but if not just work with what you have.
Cherry tomatoes need less sun than full-size tomatoes - I've grown those quite successfully indoors (5 gallon pot per tomato plant, and a tomato cage). I've grown lettuce, beets, carrots, turnips, I'm forgetting what-all. Lean towards plants where you eat the leaves, roots, etc. Plants that need to produce fruit will (on average) need more sun.
As for the aerogarden, I don't have any experience with that, but (a) grow lights add to the cost (although they do extend the season into the winter), (b) it is a small scale kind of thing compared with a line of pots all along a set of bay windows, hanging pots, etc, and (c) seems a bit on the expensive side (although perhaps mitigated by things like the seeds coming in assortments sized for the indoor garden rather than huge packets).
Likewise for hydroponics - not my area of expertise.
When I had a large indoor garden I just used soil in pots (commercial potting soil, some compost although how to compost indoors is a whole separate issue).
Some insect pests (e.g. aphids, whiteflies) can be a problem, since you don't have temperature swings and insect predators to check them. I ended up starting from seed rather than buying plants because of the aphids (every time I got them, I'd face weeks of hand-picking with tweezers, and perhaps insecticidal soap). The whiteflies would probably be a non-issue if not using compost. On the plus side, it is possible to avoid or eradicate lots of pests, and they usually don't come back, having no place to come from.
As for books, there probably are some out there. But I'm aware of more books for outdoor gardening (or indoor techniques I wasn't trying like the equipment-heavy ones) - adapting things to indoors was usually my own experimentation.
An internet search comes up with:
http://www.essortment.com/in/Gardening.Container.Indoor/index.htm
I don't agree with all their advice, but they cover way more topics than I could hope to in a usenet post.
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On Sep 11, 10:44 pm, samadams snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.ca wrote:

Cheap 48" shoplight fixture. Cheap cool white fluorescents. Choose a lettuce variety that can best use a thin plane-shaped light field, such as a leaf type. Harvest early and often to keep the lettuce small. To keep life simple, forget aero (or hydro) and grow in soil.
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