Indoor Lettuce and Herb Gardening

  • Difficulty Rating: Beginner
Indoor Lettuce and Herb Gardening

Having my own vegetable garden for many years has provided countless memories of days spent working side-by-side with my kids, enjoying their excitement over our successes and learning from our mistakes.

We've learned to grow enough to have extra left over to can. We've worked on honing the virtue of patience through watching from seed planting to harvest. We've learned to appreciate the value of having the discipline to choose to sometimes walk away from computers and video games in lieu of fresh air and productivity. While it always brings a sense of completeness and accomplishment to our season when we begin pulling up plants which have finished their fruit-producing cycle, it also brings about a sense of dread. It means store-bought "fresh" produce on our table is looming on the horizon.

Until someone can figure out how those of us who live in cold-winter regions can successfully store them long term like you can with an apple or a potato, purchasing greens and herbs from a store is most likely going to be a necessity. That is, unless we decide to set aside a place indoors during those months to grow our own. This year, we've decided to clear a spot in the dormer in our kitchen, haul in a few terra-cotta flower pots, potting soil, and left-over seeds from our summer garden and provide some artificial light so we can try our hand at indoor gardening.

Based on our history with some of our houseplants that spend the summer months thriving outdoors on our porch but wither down to sparse stalks when brought indoors, I've determined we don't have enough natural light coming through our window throughout the day to grow light-loving plants like lettuce and herbs. I've researched adding artificial lights and found varied opinions from the use of long fluorescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs to metal halide lights. We're just starting out and, as with most things that are new hobbies, have doing it as economically as possible at the top of our list of considerations. And since we have some natural light to work with, we're really just looking for supplemental light. I've decided to try compact fluorescent light bulbs, which are available with a light output that is the color of natural daylight.

When researching growing plants indoors with lights, I found suggestions to use reflectors with them to help direct as much of the light output as possible to the plants. Again, since we're experimenting and starting out with just a flower pot or two, I purchased a 8.5 inch Clamp Light Reflector.
Will we succeed? I don't know! But someone shared a saying with me many years ago when I was discouraged over my beginning gardening experiences. I was told you can't successfully grow a plant until you've tried and killed it at least 3 times. While that's not exactly a true statement, it made me laugh and it's always stayed with me as encouragement to keep on trying. Armed with that encouragement and the possibility of having truly fresh lettuce in a few weeks, I'm off to plug in that light and give it a try!