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For those who wanted to know about my basement garden

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I had read about this basement garden in one of "Mel Bartholomew's" older books I got from the library. It ate at me all summer and finally in late October the kids and I built the 4 X4' bed out of regular 2X8 lumber we had on hand and my DH put up a couple saw horses to put it on. I lined it with plastic that I had on hand and then filled it with my regular garden mix of equal parts peat moss, compost and vermiculite. We built a thin frame out of 1x1's into a 4' square with 1 ' blocks to lay on top and then we planted ever 1' area with something different. We have 2 blocks of assorted radishes and 4 blocks with baby carrots. I have 1 block with mache-- I've never grown it before but suppose to be good in a winter garden so we tried it! I have another in parsley and the rest in assorted lettuces. the red Sail lettuce came up really fast it is huge already. The parsley came up fast too and is almost ready to pick. We put two shop lights above it. Mel said to use regular lights not grow lights so we did. It's been a month and a half and we're starting to use from it. I have noticed 2 of the 16 blocks never grew so will replant those in something probably at least one will be radishes and maybe more lettuce. I'm clueless how to add photos here. If I figure it out or some kind soul enlightens me maybe I can take a picture to share! Anyway I wanted to try it and we will most certainly do it again next year but will start earlier! Anything for fresh greens in the dead of winter here in our froze bit of earth!

PS: He said grow lights would dry it out to fast and regular lights were all they needed. I did leave 1 grow light in for a week- one short on regular bulbs and the plants had burned areas on them.

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Updated 12-27-2008 at 07:59 AM by brchbell



  1. livenactive's Avatar
    What a great idea! Thanks for the info... I will definitely be checking Mel B's books out....Dont have a basement, but do have a green house that is not getting much use!
  2. JoAnn's Avatar
    Sounds really wonderful. And good eating too. But was wondering why Mel, said to use regular lights ? Can't hardly wait to see pictures..
  3. Janice Terrell's Avatar
    Is your basement heated? How far away are the lights? Do the lights stay on all the time? Not too many houses around here have basements anymore, but I'll bet this could be done in a garage, couldn't it?
  4. brchbell's Avatar
    No we don't heat our basement. It stays in the low 50's most of the time. A garage should work too, if you can keep it above 32 or cover it to keep it warmer. I have one of my outside beds double covered with two separate layers of plastic and it has carrots in it and even though it got down to -16 last week, the carrots are thriving out there! The master gardener from the Missouri Conservation office told me to keep the lights 12 inches above the tops of the plants. I have little "S" hooks on the chains so I can adjust the height of the lights as needed. You need 8 hours of light per day. My conservation agent told me not to use natural light during the winter because the angle of it wouldn't be the same and regular tube lights would work much better. You can't grow hot weather plants like cucumbers or tomatoes but you can grow the cold weather stuff that are not demanding like lettuce, carrots & radishes. There was another guy "Eliot Coleman" that had a book also and he grow stuff all winter outside in Maine. I think his website is Four Season Farm

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