Indoor gardens are becoming much more popular these days as a way to supplement your food supply and engage in greener living. There are many important things to know before setting up an indoor garden, and the light source of course is one of the most important factors. The bulb of choice for indoor gardening efforts used to be HIDs, or High Intensity Discharge lights. These produce a lot of extra heat and require cooling systems, ballasts, and more equipment, making them difficult to install properly. They could also cause fires. Now, however, there are LED grow bulbs that you can use for your indoor growing venture. Typical of LED bulbs, they take much less power to run than HIDs and turn most of that power into light rather than heat. HIDs contain metals under pressure such as metal halide and mercury vapor, making them somewhat unsafe if they break. LEDs, on the other hand, don’t contain any chemicals. This makes it safer to run an LED system than an HID one.
The closer you put your plants to the light, the more light they will get. If they are farther away, the rate of light decreases exponentially. Before, with HIDs, plants had to be kept a fair distance away in order to avoid heat damage to plants. Since LEDs don’t have this problem, they can be placed fairly close to plants, and therefore plants get more light. It is up to the grower to determine a good balance between intensity and range, because you don’t want to over light your plants and cause light saturation. In fact, studies have shown there is an optimal amount of light for plants where they produce at their highest capacity. Most LED grow bulbs are tuned to emit this range, so as to avoid light saturation.
Another great thing about LED bulbs is their limited light spectrum. Plants actually only absorb red and blue light of certain wavelengths. Normal grow lights and even the sun give off light that contains all wavelengths of visible light. LED lights, by their own nature, can be designed to give off only red and blue light. This means that your garden is more efficient—the bulbs are only producing what your plants will use. It is also best to keep your plants on a consistent light cycle. Plants need some nighttime too, so alternate light and dark periods depending on what stage of growth the plants are in. If they are just planted or fairly small, then they need more hours of light. Conversely, when they are almost fully grown, they need less hours of light. These light periods mimic the cycle of the seasons. When there are less hours of light, plants know that the growing season is almost over and will speed up their production of fruit.
You can use LED grow lights if you only have a small space to work with for your garden. You can even set up your garden in your room if you want! It’s also a great way to extend the growing and flowering seasons, or to grow things out of season. It is possible with LED grow bulbs to produce vegetables all year round.
LED grow bulbs aren’t the only thing you will need for your indoor garden. Water, nutrients and good air with CO2 are all vital. There are several types of watering systems, including hydroponics, in which plants are immersed in nutrient rich water rather than any soil. Hydroponics has picked up popularity recently for being a very healthy way to raise plants. The water in the system is reused, so there is little to no water waste. There are also no pollutants being released into the environment since the system is closed. It’s a very controllable environment, and it is known of having stable and high yields at harvest time. However, a hydroponics garden needs to be carefully monitored in order to ensure there is no system failure—a failure will cause plants to die. Hydroponic gardens are also good to utilize in areas with bad soil. Of course, if you’re feeling intimidated by all this, there are LED bulbs you can get for simple kitchen counter gardens of herbs and other small plants.
As technology continues to improve, LEDs will be able to do even more in the world of indoor gardening, and become even more efficient and suitable. They are a little expensive now, but manufacturing costs are going down slowly as new innovations are discovered. If you are looking to start an indoor garden, then now is a good time to look into LED bulbs and what their advantages are.