In the summer of 2014, we started the adventure of converting an old garage into a food production place. As you will see in this indoor garden update fall/winter 2019, we have come a long way.
When we first started we had big plans and zero experience in indoor gardening especially in such a cold climate. You can call us big dreamers? Naive? Or both? — but over the years we have come to a place where we can say it all was worth it.
The old, oversized garage building had so much potential, and we wanted to use it as garage, shop, storage and food production.
We made a plan and started building. Windows, water tanks, a bench for plants, and a chicken coop where soon in place. You can read more in the original post, turn a garage into a food production place. We were working on the rocket stove when winter arrived to stay, and it was cold.
You might be surprised to hear that the rocket stove was the first thing we gave up on from our original plan. You can read more about it here.
Then we raised the floor of the growing area, it really made a huge difference. Heat rises, and the area stayed much warmer.
Finally, we gave up on chickens and the idea to raise fish. It isn’t that those things are not possible, it just gets really complicated if you combine so many projects. Less is more.
Here are just a few challenges that we came across.
- Chickens do make a lot of dust and attract insects/bugs, flies, etc. Indoor plants are very sensitive to bugs. Keeping an indoor growing room as clean as possible is key to success.
- The bigger a room, the more heat is needed to keep it above freezing in -40 degrees nights.
- Hydroponic is simple and effective since we don’t eat fish it made no sense for us to raise fish to grow plants aquaponically.
- Don’t make something into a full-time job, that is meant to be a fun project so that you can keep doing it for many years.
If you are new here, in our regular garden updates you can read about and see the progress.
Learning from all our experiences and becoming more realistic, we enclosed the growing area, turning it into a year-round growing room with lots of windows. The new layout is simple and effective.
For urban growers like us, this is a real alternative to a passive solar greenhouse. Any existing building can be converted: garage, shop, barn, enclosed porch, etc., can be an indoor garden.
A place to enjoy
Our old plan was all about production. The final room is a nice place to enjoy. Interestingly, we grow more food than we ever did, just simpler.
N.F.T. hydroponic was a big step to growing more with less effort. Read about it here and here. We also still grow in a Tower Garden, this winter we grow tomatoes.
We start seed in the summer especially for winter growing. Kohlrabies have already been harvested and new plants are growing, the tomatoes are starting to turn colour and the Chinese Kale and herbs are an ongoing harvest. We also do succession planting especially for lettuce but also other hardy plants to keep the production going.
Over the summer we renovated the room and added a wall picture by Jonna Jinton, a Swedish artist. The picture is a silent reminder that life is in the Now, and we can enjoy each present moment.
As the days get shorter and cooler, the growth slows down. At times, it seems that even life slows down, winter is a special time and there is no need to rush anything.
A garden is a friend you can visit anytime, and this one grows even in the winter. We made a video for you, so you too in a way can visit our indoor garden.
What do you think, would an indoor garden be something for you, too?
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Debbie R. says
Nice video! I would enjoy a garden like this, too. Just need somewhere to put it! lol
Thank you. Maybe one day you will have room for an indoor garden.
I’m curious how low the temperature falls at night, especially when it’s below -20ºC, or there’s a wind blowing onto the window. Do you have a back-up heater? or have you found some way to store the daytime heat?
Great video BTW.
Thank you! Yes, we do have a backup heater and keep it at above 10C 50F.
I’ve read your blog for at least five or more years. Wow, has it been fun to see your building change. I appreciate and enjoy what you post. Thank you!
Thank you for taking the time to write. We especially appreciate long-time followers. On another note, if you keep working on something that is dear to you, it will become what you want it to be. If you have a project, even if it is just a dream, keep at it.
I’d like to start a hydroponic system. I have seen the tower system on line and it is expensive. I assume that your vertical system is much cheaper to set up, but is the system just as successful? Where do I start if wanting to start this system.
The NFT system is much cheaper and easy to set up. We would recommend starting here: https://northernhomestead.com/nft-downspout-hydroponics-setup/ to compare, the Tower Garden is a great start for someone who wants or needs an instant garden. It comes with everything you would need to start growing right away. The NFT is a DIY system, it is not difficult to set up. The Tower Garden is an aeroponics system, meaning the roots are in the air. NFT is hydroponic, meaning the roots are in water and the water is being moved by a pump.
For lettuce and greens both work great, in fact I actually like the NFT better, just because it is so easy to use. For plants like tomatoes the Tower Garden works better, there is more room for the roots and aeroponics is just a great way to grow.
Jimmie McCain says
Thank you for all you show us. You have a wonderful set up. Happy growing