By Kathleen Miller
Gaia’s Farm and Gardens
Sustainable living, gardening, and farming are based on an understanding of ecosystems, the study of relationships between organisms and their environment. It has been defined as an integrated system of plant and animal production practices that will last over time. Having a harmonious relationship with Gaia (Mother Earth) provides food for people enhances the natural environment upon which the community depends, makes efficient use of resources and integrates natural cycles that sustain economic viability as well as enhances the quality of life for the community as a whole.
Sustainable Gardening and Farming Indoors
Apartment dwellers can use window walls, balconies, and rooftops to raise surprisingly larger crops of homegrown vegetables. The most practical vegetables for the windowsill farmer are those that need little space and give high yields. The nature of your space also determines what you can grow. If you have balcony space, climbers-such as standard tomatoes, pole beans, and cucumbers are a good choice. For a windowsill garden focus on such low growing vegetables as lettuce, spinach, carrots, and dwarf tomatoes.
Daylight exposure is also important since indoor plants have the same needs for light and warmth as those grown outdoors. For an east-facing window, the choice is limited to leafy vegetables and radishes. Southern and western windows are suitable for most vegetables. Warmth lovers, such as tomatoes and beans, do best in a southern exposure. A northern window is unsuitable for vegetables unless artificial lighting is provided as a supplement.
Vegetables need ample light to flourish, especially rays from the blue and red ends of the spectrum. Normally these rays are supplied by the sun, but fluorescent light bulbs can take the place of natural sunlight. An equal number of cool-white (rich in blue) and warm-white or natural light bulbs, (rich in red) seem to give the best result. Light bulbs specially designed for indoor growing, high in both blue and red wavelengths, are also available.
Some growers use incandescent lamps to augment the red end of the spectrum, but these consume much more electricity for the light produced. They also must be used with caution because of the heat they generate.
Fluorescent light bulbs should be positioned 6-12 inches above the plants: light intensity diminishes rapidly as distance increases. A fixture with four 4-foot light bulbs provides enough light for a 3-by 4 foot area. Vegetables require 13 to 18 hours of artificial light per day. They also need a resting period of darkness.
Gaia’s Grow Tips
Plants for the windowsill
For balcony, rooftop, or window box
Other root vegetables
Indoor Under Lights