Getting through winter can be tough; it’s dark when you get to work, dark when you leave, and depending on where you live – there can definitely be a limit to the novelty value of all that snow.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait until Spring to get started with gardening again. And having something healthy, green and luscious can be a great way to brighten up your apartment! What’s more you’ll also be able to grow things that are either very hard to find in winter, or if you do find them they’ll be either insanely expensive or really bad quality. See also our Top 5 Reasons Why Gardening Should Be Your #1 New Years Resolution!
Below we lay out everything you will need to set up a winter garden. Read all the way to the end for a special treat thats guaranteed to cure your winter blues 😉
Light / Grow Lamp
The first and most important part of this whole setup is the light. As Dr Rob explains here, plants ‘eat’ light and convert it into chemical energy to fuel their growth. Not enough light = slow/weak growth. It’s important that you use a grow lamp specifically for plants – the normal type of light globe that’s screwed into your ceiling probably isn’t going to work. The problem with normal house globes is that they don’t offer the right frequencies of light for photosynthesis. More on that here. The video below will help you understand what to look for when shopping for grow lights.
There are a ton of different options here, and you should chose one that suits your space. One of the most important features to look for however is the ability to adjust its height. You will want to make sure that the globe is 3-4″ from the plant at all times. Obviously as the plant grows taller, this means the light needs to move up. For this reason (and also because they’re very affordable) we like desk lamps like the ones below.
Or for something a bit fancier (available in black and white):
There are a ton of options out there, but we usually endorse the KISS approach when it comes to timers. The only thing this timer needs to be able to do is turn on and off once per day. The same time every day is fine. Given the simplicity of our requirements, we find that mechanical timers are best. If you’ve already got one lying around, or want to do something a bit fancier with your scheduling, then by all means use a digital one – but they are usually a bit more expensive. You want the light to be on for 12 – 16 hrs per day. Usually it makes sense to synchronize this with your own waking hours, but if you wanted to do the opposite (and it’s not going to be in your bedroom) then that’s fine too.
The total cost for setting up and running a garden like this will vary based on your location. Here in the US Amazon Prime will deliver the grow light, lamp stand and timer to you for around $40.
The running costs will depend on the wattage of the grow lamp, and you can calculate the exact cost here. Based on an average US residential electricity cost (of ~13c/kWhr) and 14hrs/day on-time, the grow lamps we recommend above will cost:
- $1.44 per month for the 26W CFL
- $0.39 per month for the 7W LED
The video below contains more detail on all of the above, as well as demonstrates how to put everything together. We check comments daily, so if you have any questions feel free to leave them below.