Is Growing Vegetables Indoors Cost-Effective?

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New blog post over at Indoor Salad:

Is Growing Vegetables Indoors Cost-Effective?

An old friend in the UK, Chris, has been reading my book, and was concerned about the cost of power in the UK, vs. growing indoors.

Executive summary: Growing lettuce in splashers under a 23W lightbulb? Very cost-effective. For a 12-week life span, the power costs me about $4. Tomatoes? Not so much.

splashers under clamp lamps, 23W bulbs - there are 8 lettuce plants under left hand lamp

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Ginger
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I've only been to Alaska once
I've only been to Alaska once - "Southeast", a cruise up from Vancouver through Ketchikan to Skagway. Forget the dark of winter - I was there in June when the sun never set. Except it hardly showed either. On the rare 5-minute snatches a sunbeam snuck through, the multiple rainbows were epic.

The natives referred to this fleeting abnormality as "cloud failure".

It was stunningly gloriously beautiful. And if I ever lived in Alaska, I think I'd need to find one of the colder, sunnier parts...

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Beth11
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 Hi All, Very interesting
 Hi All,

Very interesting posts and I love the fire pit! I was looking into good places to retire (tax wise) and Alaska tops the list. I'm not sure I could do the dark winters.

I'm not sure about cost effective but I do know any cucumbers, tomatoes or peppers I grow in winter taste better than supermarket bought. That is good enough for me.....

Beth

 

 

 

 

Captjdodge
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 Well instead of more AGs
 Well instead of more AGs you should have looked at a 4 foot 4 light HF Hydrofarm lighting unit.  It costs me literally $0.63 per month to run.  You can buy a large tote type plastic container and drill holes for growing pods.  Then run a simple aquarium air pump to aerate the water/roots.  It can be cost effective, just not through running 3 or more separate machines.

Alaskagoldie
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I live in Anchorage, Alaska
I live in Anchorage, Alaska where the growing season is short. Plus I totally detest bugs and refuse to grow anything outside. At first I thought growing veggies in the AG would be a cost savings because I tend to let them go bad in the fridge. I enjoyed cutting off fresh lettuce as I needed it. However, one machine didn't provide enough lettuce for my large salads. Also every time I wanted to grow something different or acquired a new seed, I "had" to buy a new AG. I acquired 3 AG7s over just a few weeks time, but found I much prefer the CFL Ultras. So 6 Ultras later, I have to say it is not cost effective for me. That being said--I've come to look at aerogardening as another of my expensive but rewarding hobbies. I also show Pomeranian dogs--much more expensive and time-consuming. Watching my gardens grow and change from day to day is therapeutic and gives me such a sense of accomplishment. I've come to think of them as my babies--just like my Poms. There's no way to put a price on the enjoyment my AeroGardens provide.
Captjdodge
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 Actually not really.  I'm
 Actually not really.  I'm in Hanson, MA which is just between Cape Cod and Boston.   The flowers are perrenials and they come back every year - the worst of the work on them is cutting everything back in the fall.  Other than that all they need is daily watering during the summer months and I have a well with a timer that keeps them hydrated.  Basically I was raised with the motto "If a job is worth doing?  It's worth doing well."  It's stuck with me through life and I don't tend to ever do something halfway.  Of course I am a bit OCD that way so that helps things along LOL

Ginger
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Wow, Capt - you do good work!
Wow, Capt - you do good work! Are the flowers yours, too?

Actually, I'm in New England too. I'm on the Connecticut shoreline. This is orchard country, especially apples and pears and blueberries and wild raspberries. Peaches grow too, most years, but a late frost ko'd the crop last year.

  Guess you're in a tad chillier corner of New England.

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Captjdodge
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  Well I have the yard just
  Well I have the yard just not the climate for fruit trees.  New England isn't really a good place for citrus, etc.  

Last years project was a Firepit.  The project became a monster because I tend to over engineer things.   The stones are 6 inches deep at the edges and slope down to 18 inches at the center ensuring proper drainage.  The back of the firepit has a drainage channel to allow rainwater to exit out the side of the garden.  

Ginger
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Captjdodge - looking forward
Captjdodge - looking forward to seeing a picture of your greenhouse!

I want a yard someday... Fruit trees. A greenhouse. An asparagus patch, and a bank of raspberry brambles... I want a yard.

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Captjdodge
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 I know exactly how you feel
 I know exactly how you feel Corrine.  I have no want to climb into an aircraft since a loss of cabin pressure could kill me because of my head injury nor do I want to visit a floating petri dish like a cruiseliner.  I can get my travel through television.  This is my hobby and I love it.  This spring I am going to build a greenhouse (very slowly no doubt, but I am sure I can get the job done.)  My friends are no doubt planning vacations to a tropical island somewhere but I am happier at home.  There is also another factor into growing your own vegetables:  KNOWING what went into your vegetables.  We really have no idea how tomatoes and other vegetables made it to our grocery stores.  Were they sprayed by toxic pesticides?  Were they handled properly?  I do eat vegetables from my grocery store but there is something special in eating something you grew yourself from seed.

Ginger
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Yeah, I think gardening is
Yeah, I think gardening is important to me, and doesn't require objective justification. No hobbies do, really. They float our boat.

But, I'll admit to a conflict here for me. The environment is vastly important to me, and that's closely related to what hooks me into gardening. I am truly happy when gazing at natural beauty, a flower, waves lapping on a beach, geese flying in a V-formation, the parade of the seasons. Bringing that indoors, integrating it into my life at every level, delights me. But I also want to keep my carbon footprint light.

So without giving up my consuming hobby, I do seek ways to make it more efficient. And leverage the free sunlight wisely and well in the months it's available. Not for everything, even in summer, though. The bugs see to that. Spring is about the only time it's worthwhile to me to grow lettuce outside. So, it's out there growing now.


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