Winter indoor grow box possible?

filmost(8b)September 26, 2013

Please allow me to pick your brains.

I live in Japan where central heat and air is practically non-existent. Summers are hot and humid and winters are dry and cold (although temps never dip into the negatives in our area) During the winters, we generally run a gas or kerosene powered heater in the room that we are occupying and set a timer for it to turn off before bed and turn on again before we wake up. A consistently warm air temperature is pretty much impossible unless you're willing to pony up for electricity and/or gas. (might sound harsh when you're used to central heat/air--I was too--but you get used to it)

Anyway, given the circumstances, I am wondering if building an indoor self-enclosed grow box with additional bottom heating pad be feasible? This would be placed in front of a window that gets sun all day long (no joke, the front of our house faces southwest). I figure as long as the inside of the box is warm enough, we should be able to continue doing some growing throughout winter.


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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Our house is like that, it's usually around 55 in the mornings. I haven't lost any plants over winter except one I forgot to water a few years ago. Last winter there were almost 200 pots in here by spring, with almost that many different plants. Wherever plants are from, it would be colder at night than during the daytime. IMHO, it's more natural setup than a constant temp.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 9:12AM
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Thanks for the insight! May I ask what the night temps are in your area? And were your plants over wintered plants, or did you start them during the winter?

    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 6:36PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Glad to share stories! Mine are 'house plants,' mostly tropical entities confined to the captivity of pots, and usually a lot of saved annuals that are really tender perennials. Some have been with me for decades, but I'm always adding new things. (A few years ago when I moved from OH to AL, I left most of the non-sentimental plants behind.) What is your growing focus?

An elderly neighbor has always had tons of plants that most would consider house plants, can't take freezing temps. They're all around her porches and hanging in the shade of trees most of the year. She puts them in a shed and said runs a little heater on nights below 25 and the goal is just to keep stuff from getting frost bite. She's got epiphytic cacti, tons of Begonias, Bromeliads, little palms, ferns. Not all plants would abide getting *that* cold, but she wouldn't be interested in those.

My Mom puts her plants in her unheated garage on really cold nights. DH's Mom staples plastic over the screens of her back porch and doesn't attempt to add any heat, but she does have a brick house. She rarely has issues with frost bite or dead plants.

If you'd like to look up averages for the area, zip code 36467. It's usually just below freezing at night for the coldest months but we did have a 9-degree night a few years ago.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 9:01AM
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And here is my super late, over due reply.

My focus is fruiting plants, mostly peppers.

The temps in my area (currently live in Japan) never get as cold as the temps we had back in Arkansas--at least if memory serves anyway. So based on what you've posted I think most things I bring in doors should do okay assuming they survive the transplanting process. I'll just have to try it out and see, if anything I might build a makeshift green house out of a cardboard box and some saran wrap.

So far I have been nursing a young pepper plant that went to bud but never fruited this year, and it seems to be doing just fine.

Thanks for the insight!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2013 at 11:19PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Glad to share stories, if only we had a crystal ball, huh?

Sending good vibes to your pepper plants. I've never heard of a really old pepper plant, but don't have nearly enough experience speaking with those in much warmer climates. Maybe they're trees in Ecuador, IDK. I'm sure you already thought about saving some seeds.

In my experience with moving stuff around the yard to different spots, or digging-up anything to put in a pot, If you can scoop the whole rootball mostly undisturbed, that should give you the best chance. The problem with taking things from the ground is the 'dirt.' It's too dense/heavy/water retentive from the predominance of tiny particles of sand and clay. For a long-term planting, this will almost always kill any plant. But as long as the roots aren't kept too soggy, this can work for such a short time. Some plants don't need a drink at all for up to 2 months if brought in this way. Clay pots can help make sure excess water isn't retained also if you think you'll need to water much while potted. If the soil falls right off of the roots, I'd use a more appropriate mix for potted plants. Most plants I don't do that to though, unless I need to stick them in pots with other plants. Putting a 'plug' of ground dirt in a pot with completely different mix could soon be/cause a problem. Some plants don't mind having naked roots and being placed in completely different stuff. Some do. Someone else would have to tell you how pepper plants respond to such.

Sounds like your attitude is similar to mine though. If it was doomed to die anyway, no harm in attempting to save if it sounds like fun to you. I don't always end up with every individual attempt living through winter in a house, but every year I've tried 'saving things' I end up with more plants in general to put outside the next year. I always still spend my meager garden budget though, nothing for stores to worry about.

This is a different kind of window box from what you're talking about, but similar idea I think. Instead of accidentally knocking 9 tiny individual pots (of many identical individuals smushed too closely together) off of the windowsill all winter, drying at different rates, I think this will be easier to handle, prettier to look at.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2013 at 11:37AM
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