Some indoor garden designs have big advantages over others. For example, a design that positions the exhaust run high in the garden area will be able to control the indoor garden temperature better than a design that places the exhaust run low to the floor in the garden area. Luckily, good indoor garden designs are easy to come up with because they always
follow the same rules (like the example above). Be sure to watch my Affordable Build video for some great ideas (to the right--->)
Some of these rules include: using a grow light that is strong enough to make your garden grow appropriately, using an exhaust fan that is strong enough to exhaust your garden and control the temperature, making your exhaust run as short and straight as possible, beginning your exhaust run high in the grow room as possible (to exhaust the hottest air first), introducing cool fresh air into the grow room from ducts low to the floor,
using oscillating fans to help the leaves in the garden exchange their gasses (breath), using a digital timer to control the lights, using an exhaust fan thermostat to control the grow room temperature, and providing enough access to the garden itself to allow for pruning, bug checking, foliar spraying, hydroponic system maintenance, and other necessary garden activities. Consider how these rules apply to the following different garden types and different design layouts....
Consider your indoor garden area. The area you want to garden in usually falls into one of two categories, either a grow room or a grow box. Consider weather you are growing tender, young seedlings or clones, slightly more mature plants growing aggressively in the vegetative stage, or fully mature plants that you want to be aggressively flowering....then use that information to help you select a grow light.
Use your garden grow light and your garden area to calculate your fan exhaust. After choosing an appropriate exhaust fan, follow the next link to help organize your garden area based on your best exhaust setup.
While your exhaust fan controls the temperature, humidity, and to a lesser degree the CO2 levels, it is equally important to have an oscillating fan for air circulation. Every indoor garden design should have both... the air circulation in your garden is just as important as the air exhaust, though for different reasons. Adding an indoor/outdoor thermometer will help you monitor and control the temperature in your garden area better.
You may want to go one extra step and add a charcoal filter, also known as a Carbon filter. Carbon filters are the most effective way to improve your indoor air quality. They remove dust, screen out small bugs, and absorb fumes and odors from plants and chemicals. If you add a Carbon filter to your garden design, your exhaust fan will need to be a centrifugal fan. The other type of exhaust fan I sometimes recommend, the squirrel cage fan, is usually not strong enough to pull air effectively through a Carbon filter.
Now you have a good idea of your whole garden design layout. Once you have your indoor garden area set up, adjust for temperature. Set your digital timers and, if you have one, the thermostat for your exhaust fan. Let the garden run for a day or two to make sure everything is just right for your plants... temperature is the main concern, but humidity should also be kept within an acceptable range (50% +/- 10% is ideal).
Finally, you are ready for the plants. In your new area you can set up any type of garden you like (for example, a container garden in soil, or a flood and drain hydroponic system). Each garden type has its own special considerations when it comes to providing water and nutrients to the plants. Each type of garden will also have a certain amount of maintenance required to keep it growing healthy. The garden area will require enough access to allow pruning, for example, and hydroponic systems will need enough access to allow for nutrient solution changes and daily checking/adjusting.
I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT
having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow
your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality
nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with
and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as
possible....and in the last 24 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!
As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol)...
And, regarding the cost of the nutrients....I experimented for about 3 years with making different compost teas and nutrient teas, but there is still a lot of expense $$$ associated with making high quality nutrient teas....like kelp meal, liquid seaweed, rock dust, bat guano, un-Sulfured molasses, worm castings. You can eliminate a lot of this expense by becoming an expert at making high-quality colloidal humus compost, and use your properly made compost as the basis of your hydroponic nutrient solution.
Unfortunately, I have been gardening for over 24 years and I have only
just recently mastered this difficult skill....and even then, only
because I happened to find a very easy to follow, high quality technique
and decided to follow the instructions to the letter. I produced more
high quality compost in just one week than I was able to use in a whole
year! If you can master the technique, I highly recommend it. It is one of the top 3 things you can do to
increase the productivity of your food production efforts, while at the
same time decreasing the amount of effort required to grow all of your
own food, and decreasing the total cost of operating your food
And when I say decrease operating costs, I mean decrease them to almost ZERO, especially if you are producing your own nutrients...
The ultimate solution to eliminate the cost of your hydroponic nutrients: Imagine a hydroponic system that does not require you to buy any nutrients, does not require you to make your own compost, and does not require you to brew your own nutrient tea. Seriously! No cost and no effort as far as providing nutrients to your plants! Plus, at the end of the gardening cycle you harvest all of your garden vegetables, PLUS YOU HARVEST FISH from the system--->
This solution is aquaponics. If you are serious about producing all of your own food and being self-sufficient, this is the ultimate solution for reducing expenses (as much as possible), reducing the total amount of work required, and maximizing the productivity of your gardening efforts. I have been gardening for over 24 years, and it is the perfect food production solution in my opinion.
Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!
The Same System/ 10 Weeks Later!