Monday, March 14th, 2011...12:00 am

Grow Lights for Growing Food in the Dorm


Indoor Gardening with LED Grow Lights by Rachael & Zane Ross

TheGardenLady received this question from Kayleigh.

I really want to grow food in my dorm room. It doesn’t have a particularly large amount of sunlight. Is there a type of lamp I could buy? I want to plant some sort of easy-to-grow vegetable and/or some herbs.

Before considering any lamp for raising plants indoor, please CHECK with your college or university and dorm to find out what is and what is not allowed. They may reject having lamps for growing plants in the dorm room for a number of reasons including: extra electricity costs, insurance restrictions, light pollution and fear of fire.

For vegetable plants to grow successfully, electric lights have to be on for long periods of time. Even if your college and your dorm will allow lights and will allow them to be on for extended periods every day, will your roommate/s want to sleep with lights on in the room? And will you want to sleep with the light on? Grow lights have to be on for up to 16 hours each and every day.

Scientists seem to recommend that for best rest, one should sleep in a totally dark room; some scientists say that even light from your phone or digital clock may not be healthy. One article said that sleeping with your TV light on may lead to depression.  See here.

Know also that raising plants indoors is tricky in that the plants can attract insects. You may be lucky and not get any insects; but most greenhouses use insect traps- another thing to think about when raising vegetables in a small space like a dorm.

Consider finding out if your college has a green house and if you can take a course on raising plants in a green house. Perhaps you can get a job working in the school green house where they will allow you to bring in a few of your own plants. If that is not possible, perhaps you can find a part-time job helping in a green house or nursery in the college neighborhood so that you will learn what is required. And again, they might allow you to keep a few of your own plants with theirs.

Now that I have warned you, and your College has given approval and you feel that you can live in a room that has the light on most of the time, I will talk about grow lights.

One of TheGardenLady’s favorite looking grow light is a small round type called AeroGarden. I have seen them or a similar model sold in hardware stores. They are relatively inexpensive and can grow herbs or even tomatoes. A good website to see what they look like is this.  Though TheGarden Lady has never used them, they look attractive and they say they are guaranteed to grow- whatever that means.

Then there are larger types of grow lights- many kinds including some for professionals. TheGardenLady visited an indoor plant lab where they used an excellent grow lamp from Hummert’s catalog.  See here. Though Hummert’s is a catalog for professionals only, it is an excellent source for seeing what types of gardening supplies are available. Perhaps you could phone them to see where you can purchase the items in your area.

For more information on what is needed for Gardening under lights check out this.





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