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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good morning,

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I have a quasi basement\garage vegetable garden. I started it the other day. I live in a raised home (because of flooding - and yes, I understand the potential future events) and my basement\garage is above ground. For the most part, it's fairly dry. I started it inside for a multitude of reasons which I don't have time to go through right now. The plants are all in 5-gallon buckets. I have a fan that circulates the air. I watered the plants the other day figuring I would water them every two days. When I went down to check them for watering again today, it seems as though they are still moist from the watering the other day. I did not saturate them the other day. The potting mix is a combination of 3/4 gravel on the bottom with holes drilled in the bottoms of the buckets, Then there's a mix of potting mix and manure fertilizer filled up to the top of the buckets. Plants are transplanted in the soil they came with. The plants look very good but I'm concerned with the frequency of the watering as I don't want to underwater, but I don't want to overwater because of root rot. Any insight would be appreciated. All my life I've been an outdoors gardener, so this is new territory for me.

Thanks,
Woody
 

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I keep a few pots on my back deck. Trust in your plants appearance: they will tell you how they feel! Personally I turned most of my pots into self-watering pots so that I do not have to water them as often
 

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I think more plants are killed by over watering/over babying than are killed through under watering/neglect. Over watering (especially in indoor potted plants) can lead to bad things like root rot and fungus gnats, among many other problems. If they're indoors and not having the sun/heat beating down on them, odds are they are going to take longer than two days to dry out.

Generally you want to water plants deeply and infrequently. Shallow, frequent watering is a recipe for disaster. I water my indoor plants roughly every two weeks, and I soak the heck out of them (I'm a big fan of bottom watering). Larger plants with larger rootballs might need more frequent watering, but try to water based on what the plants look like/what the soil feels like and not on a schedule.

You'll learn to look at the plants and tell whether they need water or not, but until that point, I'd buy a moisture meter. They are very cheap ($10 or under) and might save you a lot of worry/frustration by telling you exactly how damp your soil is. Try to get one with a longer rod since you are gardening in deeper containers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I keep a few pots on my back deck. Trust in your plants appearance: they will tell you how they feel! Personally I turned most of my pots into self-watering pots so that I do not have to water them as often
Curious how that self water system works
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think more plants are killed by over watering/over babying than are killed through under watering/neglect. Over watering (especially in indoor potted plants) can lead to bad things like root rot and fungus gnats, among many other problems. If they're indoors and not having the sun/heat beating down on them, odds are they are going to take longer than two days to dry out.

Generally you want to water plants deeply and infrequently. Shallow, frequent watering is a recipe for disaster. I water my indoor plants roughly every two weeks, and I soak the heck out of them (I'm a big fan of bottom watering). Larger plants with larger rootballs might need more frequent watering, but try to water based on what the plants look like/what the soil feels like and not on a schedule.

You'll learn to look at the plants and tell whether they need water or not, but until that point, I'd buy a moisture meter. They are very cheap ($10 or under) and might save you a lot of worry/frustration by telling you exactly how damp your soil is. Try to get one with a longer rod since you are gardening in deeper containers.
Thanks appreciate the input, I'm going to look into that
 

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Curious how that self water system works
I took a large flower pot, and I put a much smaller flower pot in it UPSIDE DOWN. Then I filled it with soil and I planted it. Put the whole thing in a larger saucer and fill the saucer with water.

Where the water is in contact with the soil it will wick up to the roots of the plants. However, because the area where the soil contacts the water is relatively small the soil does not get so soggy that the roots rot.

It is easier than it sounds, and yes it does work. It means that I only have to water once every 5-7 days

There are many different designs of self watering pots on-line. And, they sell self-watering pots in the stores. The ones in the stores have an insert with holes drilled in them, and there is an inch or so gap between the insert and the bottom of the pot which holds the water. The rots grow down through the holes but the soil does not get too soggy for the plants.
 

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All good answers above, but I always have to ask-- is the yield of a few lousy servings worth the time and effort (and electric bills) of indoor veggie gardening?
 

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All good answers above, but I always have to ask-- is the yield of a few lousy servings worth the time and effort (and electric bills) of indoor veggie gardening?
If I didn't live somewhere I can grow tomatoes year round, I would definitely consider growing them indoors in the winter. Totally worth it not to have to eat mushy, tasteless grocery store tomatoes or go without. Maybe not economically, but in being able to have food that tastes way better than the stuff you'd otherwise have to buy.

If I had a basement I might even consider doing it for fun/as and experiment. I do love my indoor gardening in the form of ornamental plants, I imagine indoor veggie gardening might even be more fun since you can actually eat your hobby.

Just saying, sometimes money/time/effort isn't the only reason people do things or don't do things. The OP probably doesn't need me to stick up for him but I will anyway ;)
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I took a large flower pot, and I put a much smaller flower pot in it UPSIDE DOWN. Then I filled it with soil and I planted it. Put the whole thing in a larger saucer and fill the saucer with water.

Where the water is in contact with the soil it will wick up to the roots of the plants. However, because the area where the soil contacts the water is relatively small the soil does not get so soggy that the roots rot.

It is easier than it sounds, and yes it does work. It means that I only have to water once every 5-7 days

There are many different designs of self watering pots on-line. And, they sell self-watering pots in the stores. The ones in the stores have an insert with holes drilled in them, and there is an inch or so gap between the insert and the bottom of the pot which holds the water. The rots grow down through the holes but the soil does not get too soggy for the plants.
This is interesting as it is new to me the idea of water flowing "upwards", seems unusual. I'm certainly going to educate myself more about this. I do understand the premise of water seeping into dryer areas. Thanks, appreciate the info
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
All good answers above, but I always have to ask-- is the yield of a few lousy servings worth the time and effort (and electric bills) of indoor veggie gardening?
There are multiple reasons for my investment. I don't know the exact cost of gardening vs. output, but if I get a chance, I will certainly calculate it now that you've brought it up. I did briefly ponder it but dismissed it given task at hand and my reasoning. I will revisit it.
My reasons are as follows:
1. Absolutely as has been stated previously, I absolutely enjoy gardening (used to have a 30'x8' external garden last home but that was in a city and was built over years of time)
2. I don't have the time or finances right now to build what I need to have a sustainable exterior garden right now given the circumstances since I live in the country
3. The deer and other small animals will decimate any exterior garden I throw together temporarily
4. With the potential of coming food shortages given a multitude of different circumstances right now if this actually transpires I have a source of some amount of vegetables I can draw from (especially in the winter) even if it's a minimal amount. This in conjunction with other prepping-type preparation I've done, "should" help financially and get me and my family through what might lie ahead.
5. Throw in potential "more nutritious" products without pesticides, etc. just for "S&G's"

Just my thoughts in my own humble opinion for what they're worth :)
 

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@byekryam, don't pay much attention to doc. He believes there is only one way to garden and will not consider any methods other than row gardening. I don't know if he is also a mulch hater, there is/was one poster that had many reasons to not apply mulch. None of them applied to most gardens.

I grew a fabulous salad garden indoors once. No slugs, no bugs, no groundhogs, no feral cat pee. I ate salads for over a month from that garden. The lights were on for my other plants anyway so I didn't count the electricity into the cost.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
@byekryam, don't pay much attention to doc. He believes there is only one way to garden and will not consider any methods other than row gardening. I don't know if he is also a mulch hater, there is/was one poster that had many reasons to not apply mulch. None of them applied to most gardens.

I grew a fabulous salad garden indoors once. No slugs, no bugs, no groundhogs, no feral cat pee. I ate salads for over a month from that garden. The lights were on for my other plants anyway so I didn't count the electricity into the cost.
That's absolutely no problem, I enjoy sharing as if I can help someone with something or see something in a different light then all's good ;)

I've never done anything inside on this magnitude, so time will tell. I hope I have as much luck as you have! If I get a chance to grab a pic I will and I'll share it here...
 

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I had a dozen lettuce plants in cut down gallon size milk jugs, growing in potting soil. It wasn't much but home grown lettuce in the winter was a great mood lifter. I haven't done it since, there are too many other plants taking up shelf space now.

I have seen indoor day neutral strawberry production. If I ever get the time and space, I want to try that! Basil is another crop that would grow well indoors. The one year I grew basil I made the mistake of growing a basil we didn't like. I plan on trying it again with a different type.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I had a dozen lettuce plants in cut down gallon size milk jugs, growing in potting soil. It wasn't much but home grown lettuce in the winter was a great mood lifter. I haven't done it since, there are too many other plants taking up shelf space now.

I have seen indoor day neutral strawberry production. If I ever get the time and space, I want to try that! Basil is another crop that would grow well indoors. The one year I grew basil I made the mistake of growing a basil we didn't like. I plan on trying it again with a different type.
Mmmmmmmmm... strawberries!!
 

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Alpine strawberries supposedly fruit all year. I have seeds and hanging baskets. I grew some yellow ones which have been planted in my little garden. The seeds for the red ones never grew. With most of the houseplants vacationing outside for the summer, I have room to start more plants indoors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Alpine strawberries supposedly fruit all year. I have seeds and hanging baskets. I grew some yellow ones which have been planted in my little garden. The seeds for the red ones never grew. With most of the houseplants vacationing outside for the summer, I have room to start more plants indoors.
Since I'm late in time planting things from seed, I went looking for Strawberry plants and found that no one was carrying any "regular" starter plants right now. I was able to score two hanging strawberry plants but they are for the "miniature" strawberries. Beggars can't be choosers. I'm also able to break these hanging plants up into multiple smaller plants to increase the crop. So I've added these to my garden. Will divide them up at a later date.

Here's what I have so far (with the inclusion of the two hanging strawberry plants). I have two more grow light fixtures coming for the two ends...

Plant Flowerpot Houseplant Purple Wood
 

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The benefit of indoor growing is that you can manipulate the seasons. Seeds that need to be chilled can be placed in a refrigerator. The plants need 12 hour days? Set a timer. My basement is cooler than the outdoors in the summer. With fewer light hours and more water I can grow spinach and lettuce in the summer, if I choose.

I haven't tried tomatoes indoors. I could grow the little ones specifically for hanging baskets under the lights in the basement. That spot was taken by mandevillas this past winter. Then, just as they were moved outdoors, several of those time wasters died on me. I think strawberries or tomatoes would be a better use of the light and space.
 

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This is interesting as it is new to me the idea of water flowing "upwards", seems unusual. I'm certainly going to educate myself more about this. I do understand the premise of water seeping into dryer areas. Thanks, appreciate the info
Bottom watering really is a pretty efficient way of watering container plants. You get good saturation at the bottom (root level) and, especially in larger containers, less water up at the surface of the soil where it doesn't do plants any good anyway (and damp surface soil encourages fungus gnats - how I hate those things).

BTW, very nice indoor garden picture :) You could actually set up bottom watering in that system if you wanted to try it by placing some sort of containers underneath the buckets/pots (saucers, rubbermaid tubs, anything that's slightly larger in diameter than your "pots" and can hold a decent amount of water), and then filling those with water. I leave my plants sitting in that for about an hour or two, and then dump any remaining water in the bottom container after that time. If they run the bottom container dry before their time is up, fill it up some more, they were thirsty. Just don't leave them setting in the water overnight or anything. You can also "prime the pump" of very dry plants by pouring a little water in at the top first - soil with some moisture in it will wick water from the bottom much better than dry soil.
 
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
The benefit of indoor growing is that you can manipulate the seasons. Seeds that need to be chilled can be placed in a refrigerator. The plants need 12 hour days? Set a timer. My basement is cooler than the outdoors in the summer. With fewer light hours and more water I can grow spinach and lettuce in the summer, if I choose.

I haven't tried tomatoes indoors. I could grow the little ones specifically for hanging baskets under the lights in the basement. That spot was taken by mandevillas this past winter. Then, just as they were moved outdoors, several of those time wasters died on me. I think strawberries or tomatoes would be a better use of the light and space.
I investigated the self-watering system of bottom-watering but my buckets have approx 2 1/2" of gravel in the bottom so I would need like 5" bowls underneath each one. Going to have to stick to the watering can idea. I did order a moisture meter
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Bottom watering really is a pretty efficient way of watering container plants. You get good saturation at the bottom (root level) and, especially in larger containers, less water up at the surface of the soil where it doesn't do plants any good anyway (and damp surface soil encourages fungus gnats - how I hate those things).

BTW, very nice indoor garden picture :) You could actually set up bottom watering in that system if you wanted to try it by placing some sort of containers underneath the buckets/pots (saucers, rubbermaid tubs, anything that's slightly larger in diameter than your "pots" and can hold a decent amount of water), and then filling those with water. I leave my plants sitting in that for about an hour or two, and then dump any remaining water in the bottom container after that time. If they run the bottom container dry before their time is up, fill it up some more, they were thirsty. Just don't leave them setting in the water overnight or anything. You can also "prime the pump" of very dry plants by pouring a little water in at the top first - soil with some moisture in it will wick water from the bottom much better than dry soil.
As I mentioned above, it would take approx a 5" bottom container with that much water to get past the bottom section of gravel in each bucket, plus the weight, plus finagling the strings\baskets, etc. I'm just going to stick to watering can method and use the moisture meter I ordered
 
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