Our Winter Indoor Greenhouse Room, by Avalanche Lily

I was recently asked for any advice that I could give concerning growing foods indoors. Growing anything indoors or outdoors is always an experiment, because there are so many variables to contend with.  In essence: Indoors: humidity, light, and nutrition. Outside: sunspots (or lack thereof), temperature, cloud cover, rain, drought, storms, bugs, soil nutrition, et cetera.

Let me preface that I have no claim at all in thinking that I’m an expert. I’m not. I am no expert at all, nor am I an expert in any subject. I am a “by the seat of your pants” kinda girl.  I just get a general idea of something that I am interested in doing. I do some basic research and then get the equipment needed, and do it. I don’t try to be the best, the expert, or to do anything perfect.  That stresses me out! There will always be people who do it better, neater, more professionally, have a better method, be more organized, have more ingenuity, are faster, or with more knowledge.  I just want to do projects for fun, in a simple manner, experimentally, to see what happens, and then improve it for the next iteration, if it is worth the time and energy.

Therefore, with this in mind, I will tell you about my indoor garden, what I have done, for fun and learning,  with the goal of growing some of our own food. I’ll relate my trials and tribulations, and what my results have been. I’ve organized this as a scientific experiment and report. I’ve done so in a loose framework of a Scientific Research Paper which consists of: Introduction, Methods and Materials, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion.

Introduction

Many people in the SurvivalBlog community and others have recently observed the claimed “climate change” occurring around the world. We have seen adverse weather events (such as late freezes and early frosts, high wind rain storms, hail storms, drought and lack of rain, too much rain and flooding) which has destroyed crops and livestock during the past two years. The sun has cycles of eleven years, but for the two most recent cycles, there have been dramatically fewer sunspots. The mainstream media is barely reporting on this — keeping the general public at large in the dark. What is really happening is that we are entering a Grand Solar  Minimum, and there will be global cooling, not warming, perhaps for many decades.  The mass media will not tell you about the approaching food crises which will lead to food scarcity and famines.  It won’t be until there is profound cooling that they try to claim that it is the “Climate Change” that they had warned of.

Those of us who aware and proactive are already growing our own gardens and are preserving our own foods through canning, dehydration, freezing, and even freeze-drying. Crops can be protected in short growing seasons with greenhouses, hoop houses,and even indoor gardening. Indoor growing only works if one has electricity. This article describes my experiment with growing vegetables indoors, in a guest bedroom.

Materials and Methods

Here are the materials that I am using:

  • Soil sourced from my garden
  • Gray plastic bussing trays, (bought from the Smart Foodservice restaurant supply store in Spokane, Washington)
  • Long, shallow, under the bed type totes (Walmart)
  • Large planter pots, (left over from buying garden fruit plants or trees)
  • Two 600-watt LED grow lights (that we bought from Ready Made Resources)
  • Organic heirloom seeds bought from Johnny’s, Seed Savers, High Mowing, Baker’s, and some local stores,
  • and well water.

This is being done in the spare/guest bedroom. No, I don’t usually use store-bought fertilizers or plant food.

About the garden soil.  My garden soil consists of a mixture of the basic garden soil, kitchen scrap compost, and cow/chicken manure compost.  I boost the soil with minerals, such as magnesium salts and gypsum.  I collected my soil from the garden this year in mid-summer, after harvesting a crop.  I rototilled that harvested section and then shoveled off a very thin top layer to be used in my planters for starting seedlings this next spring, and for my indoor garden.  Someone mentioned in the Prepping Progress comments that they had aphid/bug problems when they used their own garden soils.  I wish to say that, thankfully, we have had very minimal bug problems over the years from using my garden’s soil. (Caveat: See my Update).

The garden soil has a few baby worms, a few small beetles, centipedes, spiders, earwigs, ants, some small flying insects, and other very tiny critters, which all tend to stay in the pots/trays or in their vicinity.   I keep my Zap It electric flyswatter nearby for any critters who venture out from the safety of their trays such spiders, beetles, earwigs, and ants). They are quickly spotted because of our light-colored tile floors.  Aphids are hardly an issue here, because, this is my theory, we live in between National Forest tracts, there are very few homes and thus very few gardens in this region. And therefore very few of your normal garden pests, thus far…..). I vacuum very frequently, so wayward critters are quickly sucked up and drowned in our Rainbow vacuum tank. I don’t mind a few critters, as long as they stay in the bedroom and very close to or in the trays.  It’s kinda fun to see insects and very small animal life in the trays in the dead of winter.

About the Lights:  The two LED grow lights were hung from the ceiling to about the three foot level above the floor. Most of the time, I turn them on around 8 AM, and turn them off around 10 PM. Therefore, the plants receive between 11-to-15 hours of light per day. The lights have fans to whisk the heat away. This heat from the lights adds warmth to the room.  Watering the plants and evaporation from the soil and the heat of the lamps raises the humidity.  Stepping into the bedroom, feels often like one has stepped into a tropical rain forest.  A friend of ours who was investigating our set-up, quipped, “I feel like I just transported from the snowy American Redoubt to Costa Rica, in an instant”. When it gets too hot and humid in there, the window sweats and drips water.  When this happens, I wipe the window and the sill with a towel, then open the window for a few minutes to cool the room and to lessen the humidity.  I do not want the wood bed frame, mattress, table, dresser, and desk to become too wet and develop mold. The windowsill and window frame have occasionally developed mold. Therefore they must be wiped frequently.

The Room:  We have light tile floors throughout much of our house.  We don’t like rugs that much because they retain too much dirt, dust, and allergens. Because, the bedroom floor is tiled we’re not too concerned if a little bit of water gets on the floor or infrequent leaks from the trays or pots.

The floor space of the indoor garden is approximately 46 square feet and currently consists of seven bussing trays, five large planter pots, six windowsill type planters, and three wide windowsill planters.

The bed, dresser, and desk surfaces are off limits to holding planters. I don’t wish to ruin them with leaking water or damp spilled soil.  I only use one little side table to hold a bussing tray and I am scrupulous about wiping up any spilled water.

Results

Since each year indoor gardening like outdoor gardening is an experiment, the produce that grows is the result/reward  So then, I will now tell you what my results have been the last time I grew something indoors, two winters ago.  Last winter, I took a break from indoor gardening. Two winters ago I grew and harvested lettuces, kales, spinach, yellow zucchini, green beans and got tomatoes to flower, and start to produce baby tomatoes, by the time the spring growing season arrived.  They were then transferred outside.  A couple of years previous to two winters ago, I only used the grow lights to start my summer seedlings in the house in March.

This year, I started the indoor garden about one month ago.  I started tomatoes from seed which are now eight inches tall, I brought in my peppers from the greenhouse, and since they had gotten a wee bit cold out in the greenhouse and I had had them in the bedroom for about a week with no extra light, they began losing their leaves.  Jim and I set up the lights and now, about five weeks later, they are growing back their leaves, have put out new flowers and some are even growing new peppers, already.

The French Green beans have put out their tertiary leaves and I see buds beginning to form for another set of leaves and flowers.  As of Monday night, they are flowering.  I’m so excited.

The cucumbers, also have put out their tertiary leaves.  I do not expect anything out of them until January or February.  I will be putting some kind of trellis in their tray to help them not to sprawl, to give them the room they will need through climbing vertically.

The lettuces, kales, spinach, and herbs: parsley, cilantro, celery, beets, and basil are doing very well in their trays.  I’ve been harvesting already, the lettuces, parsley, kale, beets and spinach greens.  I am succession planting these greens. I intend to plant another tray of them in a couple of weeks.

Discussion

As I mentioned before, the two grow lights were hung from the ceiling to about the three foot level off of the floor. After about a month of growing,  some leaves on the plants directly under one light in particular, looked a bit dry/slightly burnt. So Jim and I lifted up the light about 10 inches. We hope that it will lessen the intensity on the plants.  If light is too high, plants will also be spindly.  But if too low, it burns the leaves.

Indoor gardening without electricity:  What if we lost power?  If we lost power long term, I would move my plants to other rooms with a south facing window and a west facing window.  I have grown plants in those windows in the past in March and there just wasn’t enough sunlight.  Generally speaking there isn’t enough light during the months of November through March. There is simply not enough light coming in then, to keep my garden plants really happy.  I suppose I should try another experiment, and plant a few pots and put them in these windows to see what will happen during those dark months.  Long and spindly plants will most likely be the result.

Update

Dear Readers, your Avalanche Lily has a major confession to make…  She hangs her head in shame. I drafted this article at the beginning of last week. That sounded a wee bit prideful of the lack of bug issues. However, I made a horrible discovery on Friday morning. I found that my kale was completely inundated with Aphids!!!!  ARGHHH!  I quickly brought that tray outdoors and vacuumed and wiped down the floor and walls near the plant. I also investigated all of the other trays and pots. There were not so many aphids there.

Then, on Saturday morning, after I turned on the grow lights,  l spent some more time looking at the rest of the plants. I discovered a shiny substance on my now flowering green French bean’s leaves. I wondered what that is from. As of now, I still don’t know.

Then I looked very closely at my celery which has been turning brown. Originally I had thought this was from being outside in the greenhouse during some very cold nights. There had been new growth from the center of the plant that was doing super well. Suddenly, the new growth didn’t look so healthy.  I looked more closely and saw some leaves with curling brown edges and some webbing between stems.  Hmmm.  The leaves had a brown rust-like powder on them.  Hmmm.  I got on the Internet and looked up those symptoms.  I learned that my celery and my pepper plants have Spider Mites.  Grrr.  I ran and grabbed my magnifying glass to see if I could see them.  Yep, there were mites, and there were a lot of them crawling all over the celery leaves and the pepper leaves and fruit.  Bummer! You can treat them by rinsing their leaves under high powered streams of water and application of diluted Neem Oil. I currently don’t have any Neem Oil.  I concluded it was time to order some, and did so. I see that Arbico and several other online vendors sell it.

I brought all of the peppers (except for one sans spider mites), and celery outside to near the greenhouse.  I don’t wish to contaminate the greenhouse.  I retrieved the kale from the porch and put it outside the greenhouse with the others. I left them out there overnight.  Since the temperatures are currently above freezing night and day, if the Neem Oil arrives before the next frost then I will try it out on these plants and see if it works.

I vacuumed the floor and wiped it down with bleach and got out our large magnifying glass, again, and spent the next half hour peering intently at all of the rest of the plants in the room to make sure that they didn’t have the Spider Mites or Aphids crawling all over them. I immediately crushed the few aphids that I saw. I will now be keeping a very close eye on the plants.  When the Neem Oil arrives I will also be spraying the rest of the indoor garden plants with it.

It turns out that I got the kale tray out of the house just in time.  I went outside on Sunday to decide what to do with the kale.  I stood over the tray watching it.  It was about 45 degrees outside.  I saw quite a few critters flying around it.  I got down closer to the plant and saw it swarming with aphids and something else. The cows were very close to me on the other side of the fence, so I decided right then and there to give the rest of the kale to them.  I pulled it, threw it over the fence to “A” the heifer, looked back at the tray and saw the soil swarming. Holy Toledo!  I dumped the soil into the garden and the bottom of the soil was also swarming!  Whoa!  It is now clear to me that I got that out of the house just in time. And thankfully I didn’t bring the  infestation into the greenhouse. Thank God!!!

Conclusion

So what am I going to do now?  What is my conclusion and new plan of action?  What is the viability of growing indoors?  Given:

  • We continue to have have electricity for the grow light,
  • I can keep the humidity down in the bedroom,
  • And I keep the bug population at bay, then…

I will continue growing plants in that bedroom in this winter, and future winters.  I will not quit. Since I do not wish to buy store-bought sterile soil, my next plan of action is to cook my garden soil in a new burn barrel over a campfire to kill the bugs, to see if the sterilized soil will grow healthy plants.  After I sterilize the soil, I will put it back in my scrubbed and sanitized trays and replant some kale and lettuce. When the Neem Oil arrives, I will be treating all of the leaves of the tomatoes, cucumber, spinach, mint, lettuce, and beets. I’ll have to see if the oil rinses off well before putting it on my greens.

Ideally, we should have a large heated greenhouse with two separate sources of heat, and equipped with grow lights. But that is not in our budget! So I’ll continue to experiment with small scale indoor gardening. I believe that it is very important to grow some of our food, more of our foods indoors considering the weather extremes that are coming in the near future. We should consider buying grow lights and setting aside a part of our living space to grow it.  But we should make efforts to guard against bugs, and humidity. I hope that you benefit from hearing about my indoor gardening experiment and the issues that we are experiencing and troubleshooting.

– Avalanche Lily Rawles

 




32 Comments

  1. Aphids are an indicator of too much nitrogen. They exist in and are necessary in all well balanced living soils. Beyond that, Aphids doodoo is sweet and attracts/feeds other critters, too. They are integral to decomposition which is an important part of the cycling of life. To grow indoors is way more trickier than most people know. You can grow with living soil inside, but, getting more knowledgeable in microbiology, plant, and soil science would help. Be careful about overreacting to dilemma, Instead, consider using aphids as an stepping stone to knowledge base.

      1. There is info on videos from various groups. Beginning info would be Elaine Engham….soil microbiology/science, with Rodale Institute. Living Web farms talks lightly on soil biology and their methods, insights, etc. Korean natural farming gets way in-depth.

        The info is rather new to growers now. Was known by farmers prior to fertilizers, but, generational passing of info was dropped as conventional war was declared by ag. It has been having a resurgence. Science is beginning to produce more studies now as well.

        As one commenter noted oils do address present issue(conventional approach), but, correcting underlying issue makes good sense. It really takes both done concurrently.

        Only book choice I know is about applications, not, really theory….JADAM Organic Farming. Can be found on Amazon.

    1. The reference to nitrogen is very helpful. Thank you, as I am strong on that element (raise rabbits: lots of rabbit poop.). Maybe I overdid it. I attributed the greenhouse aphids to the eggpalnt they atttacked their first and second years (and no others) and in a subsequent year to the pepper plant I brought in from a friend which then multiplied on the tomatoes. Maybe I better look to my own local conditions. Thanks for the indicator. I will think about this.

  2. I had a similar problem with ‘bugs’ in my potting mix as I too used what I had from outside. Last winter I was growing sprouts in pots/tins along with herbs. I kept my soil mix in a clear zip lock and one day noticed bugs crawling through the bagged soil! Not wanting to get rid of it I was prompted to place the bags on a very sunny windowsill. Flipping the bag midway for a few days. The sunlight did its job in ‘cleansing’ my soil. I will confidently start up my ‘little’ garden soon. I have a room in my home with 15 windows facing west/northwest where I hang my orchids that cannot be outside during winter. I also have a shelf with plastic boot trays where the bigger baskets of orchids sit. I will squeeze in my sprouts and herbs between them and on the floor I brought in the plant stands that sit on the sunny spots of the room. I use essential oils and or neem when the mites and aphids rear their heads.

  3. I feel your pain! Aphids can be a problem, especially in greenhouses or, as you’ve discovered, cushy indoor gardens! A fast remedy without having to wait for a Neem order is to use dish detergent in water to spray the affected plants.

    I’ve never tried to grow veggies indoors in a house other than using the heated space to start the early seedlings for the farm so I could avoid firing up the seedling greenhouse heater as long as possible. That did involve growing several roomfuls of seedlings but perhaps they were so young when I transferred them to the greenhouse that they never had insect problems? I also used a commercial soil mix for seedlings(for Organic growers). I’m wary of using outdoor soil inside as to me, it’s transferring all sorts of insects and diseases indoors without also transferring the outdoor ecosystem that keeps it under control. But that’s just my way of thinking. You’ll keep experimenting and figure out what works for you.

    Re: Solar Minimum. I’ve been following this and am very interested in the subject. There’s a lot of hype about it and fear mongering so it can be hard to really get a realistic take on what’s going on. I know something is up though. And while summer was pretty normal here in the far north, the weather now has been unseasonably cold for November. I was away last winter but everyone here tells me it was like this then too. I’d love to see a good discussion on this and what the implications are for us in the years to come. Perhaps this would make a good blog topic?

    Anyway, I found the linked article below to have an interesting perspective on prior Grand Solar Minimums.

    https://aeon.co/essays/the-little-ice-age-is-a-history-of-resilience-and-surprises?utm_source=pocket-newtab

    1. Dear ThoDan,

      Yes, they are test runs for data collection to learn what works. 🙂 The bugs are not a mistake, just a result of fertile soil and a perfectly comfortable environment. We were running late with the wrapping up of the article last night and were struggling with a good ending and had lost sight of the scientific terminology. Thank you for reminding us of this. I quickly changed the ending to reflect the scientific framework of this article.

      Blessings,

      Lily

  4. I have years of experience growing indoors. Let me tell you my secret. Go to your local nursery and buy a bag of lady bugs. They are about $7 for 1000-1500 lady bugs. Release them in your garden and they will eat all the mites. When they are done, they will find their way outside.

    TRUST ME! They work and have no ill side affects. I released 3,000 of them into my basement and they ate all the mites and then found a way to get outside (where more food is).

  5. Crockett,
    I am curious about the lady bugs. Several years ago, the house I was living in was INFESTED with lady bugs. I vacuumed up hundreds daily for several months. I am not comfortable purposely bringing them in after this experience!

    1. There’s a lot of information on the Internet about Lady Bugs. … From the LadyBugLady Site: = “Ladybugs Are Looking For A Place To Hibernate. … Once ladybugs have penetrated the home though, they are hard to get rid of.

      Ladybugs release pheromones, it is sort of like “perfume” to attract other ladybugs. They use pheromones as a means of communication during mating and hibernation. Insect pheromones are very powerful.”

      “Ladybugs >don’t eat fabric, plants, paper or any other household items. They like to eat APHIDS. Aphids are very small, but very destructive pest that feed on plants. … Ladybugs, while trying to hibernate in your house, live off of their own body fats.”
      ********************

      From this Survivalblog article; Avalanche Lily notes:
      “What is really happening is that we are entering a Grand Solar Minimum, and there will be global cooling, not warming, perhaps for many decades. The mass media will not tell you about the approaching food crises which will lead to food scarcity and famines. It won’t be until there is profound cooling that they try to claim that it is the “Climate Change” that they had warned of.”
      ***
      Mankind was created to live in the Paradise of the Garden of Eden; not Igloo Condos. People buy time-shares in warm places like Hawaii, Florida, and the Redneck Riviera. … Survivalblog has good advice and >links for resources. A quality water filter and a food supply is a good prep. = Always useful for local, national and possibly even Global emergencies.

  6. Thank you Lily for helping highlight the climate effects as we enter the GSM. Unlike the conspiracy theory of man made global warming, solar cycles have long been documented and predicted using scientific method. During solar minima, the earth’s atmosphere becomes more susceptible to galactic cosmic rays which cause increased cloud nucleation. More clouds= lower temps. Also during a GSM, prevailing winds (jetstream, meridional flow, etc) can shift dramatically. This effect creates new grow zones (see Northern Africa), and decimates old ones (see midwest US). Alaska isn’t seeing record breaking high temps because you drive an SUV. Northern Mexico isn’t seeing snow in mid October because of cow farts.
    “Its not you, its not CO2, its the sun!” – David DuByne.
    Another observed phenomenon during GSM is increased volcanic activity. If a VEI 7-8 pops off in the coming years, you can forget about outdoor food growing for a while.

    Channels like Suspicious Observers, Adapt 2030, and Tony Heller (and others) are great resources for the science and solutions of the GSM.

  7. Thank you Lily for your insights. I’m going to try growing some greens later this winter using my grow lights. Wouldn’t a heated greenhouse just be a delight? Ah, maybe some year.
    Best growing.

  8. Thank you for another inspirational article. Bug Zapper ordered!

    Our Fruit Club has professional speakers monthly, and one of those was from a certified organic compost company. Two key components in their industrial-scale operation were correct moisture content and temperature-keeping it hot enough to kill all insects, larvae, eggs.

    They heated their materials for days or a few weeks and closely monitor temperature.

    Placing your growing media in black plastic bags in the sun and ensuring it gets hot during the days, after it cools at night and the bags aren’t too soft you turn them, repeating for several days- is a homeowners way to passively ‘sterilize’ the soil.

    One caution about ANY commercial potting soil or compost you are using is to always read the label. Usually they are extremely low on nitrogen (not so with Av Lily’s growing media with all the good animal sources in it, of course).

    The other point is to beware of the high levels of tree bark in bags of “Potting Soil” at big box stores as they have very high percentages of carbon so you need to plan on adding more nitrogen than you would to just plain dirt, during the growing period.

    Even the organic company compost had very low nitrogen levels according to their label.

    Here is a fun link to lady bug identification.

    https://www.discoverlife.org/20/q?guide=Ladybug

    Last year we thought we had a population of nice ladybugs indoors, but it turns out they were actually an infestation of a harmful invader, distinguished by lots of black spots on the body and distinct white spots on the head.

    Thanks again, Lily.

    “Trust in the Lord forever: for in the Lord God is strength forevermore.” Isaiah 26:4 (Geneva Bible 1599 Patriot Edition.)

  9. Thank you, Avalanche Lily! Your article was excellent — insightful and candid. The community comments that followed were also supportive, helpful, and interesting. In our family experience, we have often found that we learn more from experiences that require problem solving than we do from those that go too smoothly from the outset. Of course we do our level best to succeed from git-go, but we also embrace the challenges that open up opportunities to learn! All this to let you know how much we enjoyed and appreciated your feature presentation.

    We also have a thought to share about the coming Grand Solar Minimum. It is our belief that there is significant credible scientific evidence to support this “forecast”, and encourage everyone to build “cold weather survival” into their preparations. Real wool blankets, sleeping bags rated for extreme cold, appropriate and protective winter clothing and other items, options for growing, preserving and storing food will be critically important under GSM conditions. Be sure to consider incremental adjustments to plant selection too. Consider and experiment with cold tolerant varieties of your garden favorites. Keep up the good work in developing strategies that flex with everything from the budget to the terrain.

  10. Wondering if anyone here has experience with hydroponic growing? We’ve tinkered with it using a self contained store bought unit. Considering scaling it up to provide us with greens and herbs through winter. It would help eliminate the soil issues mentioned above. Any advice would be appreciated.

    1. I have done hydoponic growing (using a kit),it requires a lot of monitoring(checking nutrient balances,timers,flows,etc). Yields were ok (lack of experience?),not equal to outside but a useful experience.

    2. Yes, we have a hydroponic system. The root development of plants was fantastic – I forget the lengths – I wrote a blog about it, but something like 15 inches for lettuce and 12 for basil. That said, this is a high maintenance system. We had to check the water level three times a day, add nutrients, measure the balance. We could not leave for a day, as we could for even our animals. (We are off-grid, but in the summer, power is not usually the issue – water diminution was. Plus algae growth, even after we painted the recirculating water tank black.

      So I recommend it if you can start cheaply and evaluate. We went “whole hog” , milked it for three years and last year decided not to operate it, which turned out to be smart since it was such a dry and hot year – soil worked out better.

  11. Baking potting soil in the oven will kill all the bug eggs. It probably kills good stuff in the soil as well but I have been able to successfully germinate and grow plants quite well indoors with “sterilized” soil.

    Another trick I use is to use cold frames indoors with warming pads under the soil trays. That way you can contain infestations which may happen and you also don’t have to heat/humidify the entire room to get good growing/germinating conditions.

    I suspect you could release Lady Bugs inside the cold frames but I have not tried that (yet).

  12. Greenhouses are going to prove more useful as if this weather pattern continues to worsen. Clearly there is something happen to cause a radical change, or enough change, or the type of changes that effect production . We do not have to know the cause of the change. We can speculate and reason that one, or several factors coincide to effect the result we see. By determining the cause, and can we predict the trend in the weather with enough certainty to improve production. May be, or maybe not.
    It is best therefore best to assume that the weather will only get worse, or less favorable for gardening. In addition to the solar minimum, other factors such as weather warfare, or the possibility we are still seeing the effects of the BP oil spill that left a giant pool of semi -solid oil trapped, and blocking part of the gulf stream for many years afterward. The reduction of flow of the gulf stream, may have reduced it’s influence and regulation of the Jet Stream, thus allowing it to move unpredictably, and cause out of season weather, or temperature and precipitation extremes.

    We simply do not have enough information, and certainly not about Top Secret weather warfare, if that is part of the mix, to predict the future weather, but we can see the extremes and the result. Regardless, we should be peddling as fast and hard as we can on our food production plans. No food, no future. Whatever you got piled up, will eventually be consumed. I’ve spent twice as much on my solar water pump, delivery lines, cisterns, valves and connectors, than radio gear. And I am by no measure wealthy. Without water, nothing gets grown. I did not buy silver. Can’t eat it, or shoot it, don’t need it. But if you’d like, I can turn silver into expensive boolits. 90% silver in an alloy with nickel and copper would work just fine. Hi-ho Silver!

  13. It seems what we lack today is perspective. I am reading a great book called, The Little Ice Age, How Climate Made History 1300-1850, by Brian Fagan. Our forebearers really lived through amazingly tough times, including Grand Solar Minimums. Great post by Tunnel Rabbit above. We need to be prepared to live in a completely different world. It’s been done before and we can do it too. And they did even know what was happening. But air temps, crops that did or didn’t grow, changing fishing habits out in the ocean, no ocean travel through the northern climes for a very long while, bird migration patterns completely disrupted. I think we do much better when we know what’s coming so we are mentally prepared and stable.
    Another great read is What Life was Like at the turn of the First Millennium, the Year 1000, by the well-known author, Robert Lacey & Danny Danziger.
    Also you can find on YouTube: Wartime Farm, Wartime Kitchen & Garden, Tudor Monastery Farm, all BBC series well worth watching.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in indoor gardening. I’ve only started my plants from seeds inside, so far ☺. If you don’t have electricity but have a warm south facing window, you might consider using tin foil to help reflect more light back onto the plants. People have used this method in outdoor gardens in the city when their access to light was minimal.

    1. Hi Sis,

      That is a great idea. Thanks for sharing it. But it is still difficult when most of the days are very dark and cloudy during the winter. But every bit would help, for sure.

      Many Blessings,

      Lily

  15. Lily, as usual, I appreciate your humility. And this sentence: Growing anything indoors or outdoors is always an experiment, because there are so many variables to contend with.

    So true. We plan, God laughs. And, I bet God appreciates our efforts, even sometimes in the face of great disappointment. That is a risk we take when we experiment.

    Too, I like your saying you are no expert. Me, too. I was once introduced as “an expert gardener”. I hastened to clarify that I am only an experienced gardener who has made uncounted mistakes.

    I might have added, I am a grateful gardener for the bounty that is given me.

    Carry on

  16. I have tied to extend peppers in the house a few times. Aphids got them one year.. Bought a sack of ladybugs and let them go in the house. They ended up being everywhere in short time. I think I would prefer ladybug larvae for the next time.
    Last year spider mites clobbered all the herbs and houseplants. I will try again

  17. As someone who is a 5th generation wholesale greenhouse grower and been doing it for 20 years professionally, I enjoyed this article. My weakness is in translating my knowledge into my home garden. At my work we use restricted use pesticides on our annual bedding plants to kill aphids. Best way to have a clean greenhouse is to shut it down over the winter and let it freeze. Peppers in a greenhouse are magnets for bugs.

  18. Oh Lily how fun!!! I love your attitude. I’m the same way. I get an idea, do a little research, buy supplies and then call it, whatever it is, the Grand Experiment! I have so much fun and sometimes it works out! We are finishing up a large permanent greenhouse. It started off as a “let’s do a greenhouse!”, then after watching and reading the two scientists (I’ll find their names and links) who prove that we are entering a Grand Solar Minimum (with real science!), we decided to go all in with a large permanent structure that can handle the high winds and heavy snow loads. We’re almost done after lots of delays!!! We did plant 100’s of starts and placed them on a large dining room table covered in plastic, and shoved the table up against the wall to wall windows with LED lighting hung from the chandelier. LOL. Some things are thriving and some not so much. If we can finish…. home stretch… we’ll transplant the seedlings soon. We’re exhausted but having a blast. Next week’s forecast: snow snow snow. Keep us updated Lilly!! If nothing else, we should all be sharing our attempts at getting ahead of the solar minima.

    1. Dear Sara Sue,

      If we were to buy a greenhouse cover/blanket and put the grow lights in the greenhouse, and buy an oil burning stove for heat, we could grow much more produce in the winter. Our greenhouse is made from one layer of clear Tuftex. The Tuftex only keeps the greenhouse around five to ten degrees warmer than the outside air temperature. Therefore it doesn’t work well once the temperature drops below 25 degrees Fahrenheit. A greenhouse cover/blanket, would help insulate the greenhouse and keep more heat inside. I would love that. But as “Live Free or Die Ian”, mentioned, it is very important to let the soil freeze in the Greenhouse every winter to kill off the bugs. The Greenhouse cover/blanket isn’t in our budget right now, either.

      In my green house, I am still growing lettuces, beets, spinach and kale. I am growing them under hoops and plastic. So it is really a green house within a green house, operating as a cold frame, since I am not adding heat to the green house. I also have thought about raising the edges of the beds a another three or so inches and covering the beds with glass windows and with the plastic hoops over the top of the glass. But I haven’t yet moved in that direction. We already have the glass and the boards, I just have to move on it, (I forgot about it amidst all of the other things I’ve been doing, lately,) if I am going to do it before the snow flies and buries paths to the wood and glass. Then I would start seeds in the house and transfer them outside to the green house. I do not think they would germinate in the cold soil this time of year. But, hey, that is what experimenting is all about, giving everything a try. 😉

      I am very impressed to hear about your green house building project.

      Congratulations and may it grow much food well for you and yours! Yes, we should all continue teaching, and preparing for this Grand Solar Minimum. Thank you also for sharing excellent and informed comments with all of us.

      Many Blessings,

      Lily

  19. What I found on the Grand Solar Minimum (science not hype):

    The minimums appear to be about 221-ish years apart.
    The Spoerer Minimum or Mini Ice Age was in the 15th-16th century
    The Maunder Minimum occurred in 1645 to 1715.
    The Dalton Minimum occurred 1790 to 1830 or 1796 to 1820

    The current forecast is we will see cooling now and the next 5 years, but most likely won’t be in a Minimum until about 2035.  I read one scientific paper that stated 2090 give or take 20 years.  The minimums can last for decades and that is why crop failures were so prevalent as the growing seasons shortened. Many many people died during these minimums due to not being able to stay warm, having impassable roads, and crop failures. The scientists I listened to:

    Dr. Valentina Zharkova

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_yqIj38UmY

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyyuouPSNEA

    Piers Corbyn

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrA-K_NtPJ8

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlK2_t66wQI

    Hope this helps all who are interested.

  20. What I find fascinating about Piers Corbyn’s work… he is adamant about the fact (science) that warming causes C02 and there is a delayed effect, as in 600 years later if I heard that right. The climate change people say that man/animals cause C02 which causes global warming. Exactly backwards. C02 is actually the food of the earth and causes massive greening and productivity – the opposite of what we are being told. All those crazy people who actually believe that we should stop eating meat and reduce animal production in order to save the planet are grossly misinformed. My two cents.

  21. We have also struggled with aphids, and have found that Neem oil has been reasonably effective. We use about a tablespoon of Neem oil in a quart of warm water, and we add about a teaspoon of dish soap. We apply it with a sprayer, and treat not only the affected areas, but every plant and soil bed in the greenhouse. The initial infestation was quite serious (the word “devastating” comes to mind), but this strategy has worked well for us, and we wanted to share encouragement with others! We expect to add lady bugs, and also employ the aid of Mason and Leaf Cutter bees among our greenhouse pollinators.

    Avalanche Lily’s greenhouse within a greenhouse is an excellent idea for winter growing. We are working on a variety of ideas related to greenhouse heating over the course of the winter, and conversely have worked on cooling during the hottest of the summer months. Management of greenhouse conditions for optimal plant growth creates some interesting challenges! Among our winter heating strategies are the following: 1) exterior cladding, 2) placement of the greenhouse partially in-ground for geo-thermal exhange (enormously effective), and 3) a combination of hydroponics and soil based growing systems (thermal mass, heat radiating from organic decay). Soon to come will be a solar water heater that will fill black 55 gallon drums such that these exhaust heat into the greenhouse at night). We have also considered a wood-burning stove as GSM temperatures continue to fall. Although we have an electric heater in place, we have not yet required its use. Our average temperature differential (inside vs. outside) has been 20-25 degrees Fahrenheit. We had a low temperature last week of 14.4 degrees, and the lowest temperature recorded in the greenhouse was 36. Related to this… We have placed a couple of temperature readers which we can access from our in-home computers.

    We hope this information helps others too! Our work continues…

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