Art Student looking for growing suggestions for project!

bumtomatoesOctober 8, 2009

Hey everyone, I'm a Fine Art senior at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and my goal is to grow delicious fruits and/or vegetables in my indoor studio space in under 9 1/2 weeks starting now!

I have a wall I'm going to put all the plants against with two outlets (with access to more by extension cord) plus one high hanging fluoro ballast with two 5' bulbs. There is ambient natural light all day but no direct.

At this point, I'm trying to research what will grow under what conditions. I've got a ballpark figure of about 40 watts per sq.ft. but I think it's going to be more to produce fruit.

I don't know much about installing HID/Fluoro ballasts and I don't know if my school will let me. I have to keep it electrically safe. I'm also intimidated by the electrical work (although I'm pretty good with electronic circuitry) CFLs seem like the best choice. I also liked the idea of a vine plant like sugar snap peas crawling up onto the hanging curly CFLs.

I don't mind if fruit size suffers if it makes the lighting easier/cheaper. As long as there is still tasty fruit/veggies being produced!

Money is definitely a concern as well so any cheap suggestions are welcome.

I'd like to see some strawberries, grapes (seems doubtful considering they're produced in sunny Californian fields), cherry tomatoes, and sugar snap peas (at least one of each to start with). At this point I'm not sure what's feasible. I've read about some berries will produce in low light conditions. "Blackberries, for example, can set nearly a full crop on a few hours of sunlight per day"

"The above mentioned dwarf tomatoes were breed to bear fruit under artificial light for winter (indoor grown)." I saw this somewhere and was wondering if anyone knows what the name of these tomatoes are?

The room isn't heated (it can get a bit cold) and I can't block out light completely at night (although this *might* be a possibility) (I mention this because I know some plants need a strict light schedule)

I would huggggely appreciate any advice, tips, methods, websites, guides, ideas, ANYTHING you want to share.

Here's a little spirit lifting anecdote I read: 2 4-ft shoplights using 1 Cool White and 1 Sylvania Gro-Lux in each. And I have 3 42-watt CFL's hitting my plants on the sides from 3 of the corners. I have the CFL's (about $10 each) in the aluminum cylinder shaped fixtures purchased from HD for about $12 each. So far that set-up has produced very good vegetative growth and now that the plants are flowering I already have 1 tomato on the vine.

Here's a list of questions I drafted for myself:

What is the cheapest light option that will allow me to grow vegetables/fruits?

Are there any HID ballasts that can be plugged directly into an outlet?

How many CFLs can I plug into two outlets?

What plants with yield with medium to low light?

What will fruit without complete darkness?

Where can I get cheap plants ready to fruit?

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I've done a lot more research and condensed things a bit...

*Find early + dwarf varieties of strawberries, sugar snap peas, and tomatoes.

*Find most cost efficient lighting

-Learned that just 50w of CFLs can grow cherry tomatoes or strawberries (been done a lot with the AeroGarden which has 2x 26w CFLs) but of course that's with indoor sunlight from windows.

Any input would be hugely appreciated :)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 5:19PM
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