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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I live in an apt. I have a non-green thumb, and cats that love to get into plants, that is why I dont own any.

I would love to grow herbs, but I have no natural light in my kitchen area, where I want to keep the herb plants.

Will they still thrive under florescent lighting, and which herbs are pretty easy to grow. Should I just stick to dried herbs in a bottle?
 

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Heck no! Grow your own!


You will have good success with fluorescent light. I recommend getting a 4' shop light fixture with two 40W bulbs. It's best to mix one "daylight" and one "cool white" bulb, or use specialized "full spectrum" flourescent bulbs. But in the end any bulbs will do. You can pick up a fixture and bulbs at Home Depot for about $15.

The issue with indoor lighting is intensity. Fluorescent lights are cheap, but not very intensive (or energy efficient, for that matter). The strength of the light decreases very rapidly as the distance increases. This is why you will have to keep the lamp very close to the plants, about 2 inches from the top leaves. This is no problem as fluorescent bulbs don't get hot. You should build (or purchase) a lamp stand which allows you to adjust the height of the lamp.

However, the consequence of using fluorescent is that short plants will do better then taller ones, because if the plant grows tall, you will have to raise the light all the time, and the bottom of the plant will get less and less light intensity.

So, Greek basil (a really cute dwarf variety) will do better than dill. Basil is one of the easiest plants to grow anyway (it germinates very quickly - in case you want to start your own plants). Other good herbs are parsley, chives, mint..... But the possibilities are endless. You can buy seedlings or seeds and simply see how they are doing.

I also have to mention that you can grow any plant you want indoors, when you invest in a more professional HID growlight. These are quite expensive, but replace the outdoor sun quite well. I've seen banana trees growing under HID light!!
 

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Ah yes forgot to mention... the general rule of thumb is that pants that don't grow taller than one foot generally do well under fluorescent light.
 

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"fluorescent lights are... not very intensive (or energy efficient, for that matter). "

What kind of lighting is more energy efficient than fluorescent lighting, that will provide an adequate spectrum for growing plants? Or for that matter, what kind of light that is suitable for indoor lighting use, is more efficient than fluorescent?
 

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With energy efficiency (maybe not the right term!) I mean the most efficient way to convert electricity into light. High Intensity Discharge (HID) lights are more efficient than flourescent ones which are more efficient than incandescent bulbs.

Flourescent lights provide about 40 lumens per watt, Metal Halides 125 lumens per watt and High Pressure Sodium lights put out about 140 lumens per watt.

These are approximate values. Indoor gardening shops generally tell you that to produce the same amount of light as a 400 W Metal Halide bulb, you'd need 20 flourescent 40 W bulbs. This not only uses more energy, but is also awkward (compared to one single MH bulb).

HID lamps are of course much more expensive than flourescent lights. Nevertheless if I wanted to grow bigger, light hungry (fruiting etc) plants indoors, I'd invest in a HID light.

There are all kinds of lighting setups for indoor gardening, including all kinds of tricks to increase energy efficiency - such as light movers, etc.
 

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I would actually get a hanging planter and keep it in your best light window rather then under a tube in the kitchen, though if done right the tube set up would look so cool.

Everyone says not to expose houseplants to open windows but my herbs love a good breeze now and then. You can get a single level strawberry type jar that will hang nicely in a string style hanger. It is possible to keep most felines out of hanging containers with a bit if scheming. Your herbs may be used in the kitchen but they dont have to live within sight of their final end.

I get really nice bundles of herbs from farmers markets for fistfuls less then what I would spend for a smaller bundle at the grocery store. They dry nicely hanging in the kitchen from a beam. Once they are dry do jar them up, they do not age well outside of a jar, and even then they have a short shelf life. Some like tarragon are better as a vinegar or in oil. The only way to keep basil nice is in the freezer (in water as a cube) or in oil (as a pesto for instance).
 

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I can't remember where I saw it, but here was this really cool terrarium (sp) looking setup offered on the web. It had forescent lighting and metal reflectors to "move the light around". It was kind of expensive though. I'll see if I can find it again.

I bet Oatmeal could make something like that (must be nice to be a handyman type
)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by dvmarie

I can't remember where I saw it, but here was this really cool terrarium (sp) looking setup offered on the web. It had forescent lighting and metal reflectors to "move the light around". It was kind of expensive though. I'll see if I can find it again.

I bet Oatmeal could make something like that (must be nice to be a handyman type
)
That would be awesome if he could do something like that for me. That would honestly work out well, It would definately keep the kitties out. I could buy an aquarium, and modify it, maybe with Oats assistance
 

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Handyman


The thing with terrariums is that they are best for plants that, well, are suitable (or even require) a terrarium. Usually the purpose of a terrarium is to create a microclimate of greater heat and humidity than the room it is in -> tropical plants. I'd LOVE to have a terrarium(s) for some exotic plants but right now time, costs and space limit me.

Some herbs love heat, but I think all of them require rather dryness than humidity. I have no idea what happens if you set them in a semi-enclosed small space (an aquarium with open top). You might need to provide for good ventillation, maybe with fans. Then again, perhaps not. Herbs are very tough plants.

Maybe there's some other way to keep the cats away. (Netting?) I googled around a bit but there does not seem to be a universal solution. One poster said she keeps a squirt gun in the house and whenever she sees a cat munching on the plants she "shoots" them. No kidding! They get the idea pretty quickly she says. Maybe you can ask in the Companion Animals forum too. I'm really not a cat expert. But obviously you want to have a physical barrier/solution and no chemicals, because you want to eat the plants (even hot pepper spray would be... irritating
) An aquarium might be the best solution after all.

Either way (using an aquarium or not), I think you will need a light stand. Of course with an aquarium, you could place the light simply on top of it, but this would make plant care (watering etc) awkward. You'd have to demount the light every time. It would be much better if the light would be suspended above the aquarium so that you could pull the aquarium out from underneath the light.

As for the stand, I would build it out of PVC pipes. Check out this project and also this collection of plans for further ideas.

If you want to have a small stand only, you don't even necessarily have to glue the parts together.

The reflexion thing. You can cover the back and the sides of the aquarium with aluminum foil or paint it (or the wall behind the plants if not using an aquarium) with reflective white. This of course decreases the light loss. Though I think I would work without it too.

So here's something for you to ponder about...
Keep posting your ideas and questions and I think in the end there will be a useful solution.

That is, if you want to go the artificial lighting way and don't have a sunny window.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
thanks for your assistance Oatmeal. My cats just are not disciplined well with a "water gun" so my best bet is to have something that they can not get into, like the aquarium. I think I may have found a cheap used one to work with. I am going to call my local garden store, and ask them about grow lights. I do not have great sun in my place, so I will need to do artificial. I may also ask the garden store which herbs are "tough" and what they may think would work best for my situation.

I will definately let you know when I get it going, and how it does.

 

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oatmeal knows his lighting shiznit. i curently have two compact floros on my grow (seedling) and they are fairly close to the plant and i have to have a fan on them because the bulbs get fairly hot. so you might need to cool them if you use a flouro. as well, i woudlnt use one 4ft flouro beucase your plant (unless you use more then one) wont use all the light the bulb pruduces, try for shorter bulbs so more light is concentrated into the one area. does that make sense ? matter? if your serious about the herb Growing i would get a High Pressure Sodium bulb/ballast. flouros are a waste of time compared to these lights
.
 

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Musicfan... please see my post on Mini Greenhouses. Much less expensive then those set-ups you can buy. All you have to do is keep them in a sunny place on your patio or windowsill and keep it damp. Works great for me.. good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I bought a mini greenhouse for my little patio area, it looks like a shelf unit, that you put a plastic cover over. I keep it open for the most part in the front to let circulation in. I only get maybe about an hour or two of morning sun, so I for the most part bought plants that need less sun.\\

Oh and my herbs..... of course. I also planted a few seeds, lets see if they come up.
 
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