Why should you have a grow box?

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Other than the “Do you really just grow ‘strawberries’ in your grow box?”  question.  The most common question I have gotten is why exactly do I have a grow box.  Hopefully I will be able to answer this question below, as for the first question the answer is yes (without the fingerquotes)

Necessity:  I am cheap and don’t want to buy all my plants from local nursery or garden center, but do not have a good location inside my house to grow seedlings with a normal table/shelf light setup.  I definitely do not have the space to setup a greenhouse in the backyard.  This unfortunately forces me to do my growing in my cold windowless garage.  Using a grow box allows me to maintain a safe temperature for my plants no matter what the conditions are outside.

Control:  I have nearly complete control of the conditions inside the grow box.  I can provide my plants with the perfect temperature, humidity, lights (intensity and wavelength as well as day/night simulation) and even can simulate a slight breeze using a small fan if desired.  This gives me many advantages which I would not have even if I could grow indoors.  One example of this is growing peppers, which can be fairly difficult in our climate but with some modifications settings in the grow box can create the perfect conditions for it.

Saving Money:  Given my options such as the $20 PC Grow Box and my $6 Christmas Light LED Grow Box the cost of entry is pretty low.  You do have the expense of lighting the thing but given the 48 watts required for the PC Grow Box and 10 watts of the Christmas Light LED Grow Box even those maintenance costs are reasonable.

Portability:  All three of my grow boxes (PC Grow Box, LED Grow Box, Computerized Grow Box) all have a single plug that goes into the outlet and can literally be picked up and moved to another location if needed (try doing that with your greenhouse)

Scalability: Need more space in your grow box?  As little as $6 can get you a new one, or $10 worth of lumber can double the size of your existing one (assuming your old lighting can support the space)  You are limited to what your creativity can imagine.

Fun:  Call me crazy, but I like the idea of tricking my strawberries that it is a nice spring day and get them to start blooming and producing fruit.  If all goes well I can move the plants outside during the real spring and get even more harvest while freeing up some space for more plants.

6 Responses to “Why should you have a grow box?”

  1. Patrice Farmer Says:

    Because of you, I am now going to be growing my veggies in two grow boxes/areas and will have a better yield and save money this year instead of buying plants at the nursery. Thanks.

  2. Red Icculus Says:

    A good upgrade is a tent. The Homebox or Secret Jardin all have compact tents that will fit lights and ventilation well. Granted, mine is 2×2′, but it is the same concept of a compact garden.

  3. attrezzo p Says:

    How do you manage groundwater? I have a brown thumb, but I’m a good programmer. I’d like to make a grow box so I don’t have to keep to such a tight schedule watering my plants. I don’t like killing them so reducing the amount of my involvement in daily stuff is good.On another note:I plan to make an aeroponic grower. Based on the $100+ ones. I’m programming a micro controller to control it though. I’m going to start out with herbs because they’re super expensive (cilantro) and any extra you can easily sell at local farmers markets for pretty good money. I like the LED idea! It would be far more efficient than florescent for me.I hate it when others insinuation that this has anything to do with illegal drugs, but I guess it’s inevitable.

  4. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Patrice, glad to be an inspiration. Way I have always looked at it worse case you buy a few plants at the nursery. I have had to buy at least one each year hopefully with temperature control I can keep my summer seedlings alive until danger of frost has passed.Red, I have noticed the reflective insulation at home depot and had an idea to create a tent.attrezzo, if you check out my Computerized Grow Box post I use a moisture sensor to detect when to add water and add water by controlling a fountain pump (still not implemented)I also want to try the hydroponic method, maybe when I move the strawberries out.As for connection with illegal drugs, doesn’t help when the commercial products always include “a large activated carbon scrubber ensures there is no grow odors” Why would anyone need mask odors to grow the basil and pansies they show in the pictures?

  5. Ken Says:

    Wow, I just stumbled upon all of your pages and I’m blown away. I recently started growing a few plants at home…and I guess I’m somewhat of a frankenstein when it comes to loving things…morbid I know but it’s true!

    These projects are great for anyone who has a technical background but is also into gardening.

    I think I’m going to try to implement your technology in a larger fashion…

    How do you control humidity? Have you considered extracting other data from the soil such as PH? I’m really loving your site.

  6. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    Well humidity stays pretty high just by it being enclosed. I use a fan on a timer to bring in some fresh (dryer air) to keep things from being stagnant and to reduce the humidity. Though you definitely could add a humidity sensor and make that part a little more closely monitored.

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