Indoor garden tour

This year we decided to consolidate a lot of our growing and seedling starting at home. That meant creating a new grow room in the conservatory and new grow lights in the garage and conservatory too. It’s been a bit of a learning experience, but Debbie and I are very happy with the results. I’m really looking forward to spending a year really fine tuning how to grow with lights and to use them to push the boundaries.

Spider Farmer kindly gifted us the lights we have in the conservatory (Spider Farmer Grow Light, SF-1000), Mars Hydro gifted is the ones that are in the garage (SP 150 Led Grow Lights Full Spectrum). If you are interested in them, you can find the links in the FAQ document as well as links to the seed suppliers we use, the Bluetooth thermometers and the temperature controlled plug socket.

If you have questions, we have a FAQ document and video, which you can find here: https://steves.seasidelife.com/2020/01/20/allotmentfaq/

If you are new to my allotment videos you might find a bit of context useful. We live in the north west of England, in Lytham St Annes, which I believe is the equivalent of USA Zone 8. Fairly mild, but very windy.

For more details on the databases that I use to manage my allotment, check out these two blog posts https://steves.seasidelife.com/category/airtable/

We have three allotments in my family, mine (Steve), my wife’s (Debbie) and my middle daughter’s (Jennie). We also have a small kitchen garden at home. They are all managed in an integrated fashion, so don’t expect to see the usual mix of veg on each plot. I do most of the planning and seed starting. We each have our own plots, but we all help each other out.

Jennie’s plot has been designed as a traditional allotment, but we put a lot of focus on minimising the work we do there. It’s basically a plant and forget it plot, full of garlic, leeks, onions, beetroot, brassicas, squash, beans and fruit trees. It’s heavily mulched to reduce weeds and to reduce the need water.

Debbie’s plot is mostly full of perennials, it’s an ornemental plot. Again we did a lot of work to keep the weeds down and Debbie’s approach is inspired by the TV programme The Ornamental Kitchen garden.

My plot is all about experimental growing, maximum productivity and year round abundance. As with all of the other plots I did a lot of work to control the weeds, but it’s a high maintenance plot. I’m always planting, harvesting, experimenting and generally having a great time.

Collectively the plots deliver an amazing abundance of fruit and veg all year round. Debbie, Jennie, Jon and I are effectively self sufficient in veg all year round and in fruit for much of the year. During winter we sometimes have enough surplus to feed our local family. During the rest of the year when the surplus from our house garden comes on stream we have surpluses in some crops for quite a few friends as well.

This video provides an overview:

I do an update of the allotments, roughly twice a month, you can find the tours here:

Our approach to allotment life is to: grow as much as we possibly can, to be self-sufficient in veg all year round and in fruit in season, to give away our surplus to friends and family, and to have as much fun as possible. For more on self sufficiency check out these videos:

We are not slaves to gardening though, I spend about 14 hours a week on the plots (on average) Debbie and Jennie a lot less. We keep nudging that down as we eliminate non-productive work: like grass cutting, weeding and watering as much as practical. We are both newbie gardeners, only starting the allotments in 2016.

I’m a bit obsessive about the nutrient density of the veg that we grow and making the plots easy to work because it’s through this allotment lifestyle and food that I’ve overcome a debilitating auto-immune disease.

I’m always aware though that it might not last so I make sure that I don’t work too hard, eat as much organic fruit and veg I can and design the plots so that I can still work them when I flare up.

20 Comments

  1. BevsArtsandCrafts on May 1, 2021 at 12:42 am

    I remember a video I saw years ago. A bloke had grow lights in his greenhouse/ grow room in his garden. Someone sent the police round to his house thinking he was growing something dodgy ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ it was only veg ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

  2. Lorna Bowman on May 1, 2021 at 12:47 am

    How do you pollinate indoors please?

  3. BevsArtsandCrafts on May 1, 2021 at 12:47 am

    Love it ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

  4. KarenT on May 1, 2021 at 12:52 am

    You have me inspired Steve, I have some smaller tomato plants left over and was thinking Iโ€™d move them into the poly tunnel when main tomato crop was finishing. So theoretically I could bring a couple inside too! My little cucamelon disaster has suddenly sprung into action, Iโ€™m thinking itโ€™ll probably just get going as the season cools off so Iโ€™m thinking thatโ€™ll also be one for the house. Great ideas and Iโ€™ll certainly be on the case before spring. When do you sow your tomato and cucumber seeds for your pre/indoor crop?

  5. Mark Shaw on May 1, 2021 at 12:56 am

    Love your set up it’s amazing. It’s amazing how with technology u can do so much now. Your consevertary looks great. This tomatoes are massive

  6. Mo Brosch on May 1, 2021 at 12:59 am

    Thanks for the ideas Steve. Your enthusiasm is contagious! I have a conservatory in woodland so only gets a window of warm sun between about 10 am and 3 pm it is great for overwintering and keeping fuchsias and geraniums going all winter with a radiator on timer. I also keep tomatoes and other heat needy tenders until safe to put them in the greenhouses. I am going to get grow lights in there because although a great space everything is leggy as it searches for light/ day length. I would appreciate a recommendation re types to start with and suppliers the space is 18ft x 8 ft thanks again for the inspiration!

  7. Ronald Shaw's - Car Park Growing Area on May 1, 2021 at 1:01 am

    Hi Steve, So out of the 2 grow lights you have which is the best, That looks a good set up in your garage, Do you have vents above the light to let some of the heat escape, Take care and you all stay safe.

  8. spirit on May 1, 2021 at 1:06 am

    hepa filter for the chemicals in the wind.

  9. Norman Smith on May 1, 2021 at 1:10 am

    I have a similar grow light set up,but find it brings other problems in spring when you pot on. As the plants get bigger and uses more square metres of space, trying to maintain temperature and light intensity to continue with healthy plants. I also have done a few experiments with micro greens, which is still ongoing.Started with kitchen roll, big fail, clean but could not keep wet enough, then the absorbent mats, not much better than the kitchen roll, soil by far the best but more mess when harvesting.This is with just basic seed tray not the micro green specials,Trays of lettuce like you have are great !

  10. pete T. on May 1, 2021 at 1:10 am

    Plenty of Ideas and a lot to think about. Thank you Steve. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ‘

  11. abundleofmyrrh on May 1, 2021 at 1:12 am

    Gosh soooooo much valuable and interesting information! I wish you could see my front room Iโ€™ve got quite a few things growing in here, itโ€™s very much like your conservatory but I didnโ€™t realise how important airflow is so Iโ€™ve dragged my big fan down from upstairs to help them. Thanks once again for sharing your wealth of knowledge Steve! ๐Ÿ˜ P.S I love my grow light but Iโ€™m going to invest in some more, not only for growing plants during the winter but also for me as I also have that seasonal affective disorder ๐Ÿ˜ฌ Iโ€™ll get a deckchair and a glass of wine and sit next to it lol ๐Ÿ˜‚

  12. saaversteen on May 1, 2021 at 1:17 am

    how long can indeterminate tomatoes live? will all these plants shown here make it through the whole winter in the conservatory? would the tomato yield be better if side shoots were removed or have you left them like that just because you can? i have spare young tomato plants about a foot tall in a quite shadey greenhouse and have been thinking of using the conservatory which is much sunnier and warmer. peppers are also struggling in the greenhouse so i’ll move them as well and i’ll try more cucumbers and lettuce now after seeing your results. how many hours per day do you use the grow lights? are they for winter use only? do the plants need to be right under them or are they good for the whole room? right now the conservatory is unheated and without grow lights but i can get that sorted for the winter. it’s always been an unused space in the winter as just too cold but things may well change shortly after seeing your vid thanks.

  13. ben on May 1, 2021 at 1:19 am

    I’m so jealous of your conservatory!

  14. Chris Scott on May 1, 2021 at 1:20 am

    Awesome, growers paradise. loving the channel. Nice one!

  15. nooie99 on May 1, 2021 at 1:28 am

    Morning Steve. Iโ€™m just getting a budget poly tunnel while I save for a larger one. Have a couple of questions for you. Where did you get your poly tunnel from and also what compost do you buy for the beds pls
    Iโ€™m using pallet collars lined with plastic to keep my coats down for time being. . Thanks Nicola.

  16. richard pill on May 1, 2021 at 1:33 am

    Excellent Steve, some really useful information, you are gradually convincing me about the grow lights! Mrs P will be pleased! I extend the seasons by creating mini-tunnels either outside or inside the greenhouse or poly tunnel, I have heard of people growing melons over Christmas that way although I havenโ€™t tried this yet! I notice you have the new book, have you had chance to look at it yet?

  17. Stephen Lewis on May 1, 2021 at 1:38 am

    Can I ask the minimum depth of tray to grow lettuce indoors? I bought a Garland Growlight Garden recently and started some lettuce but I transplanted them to a bigger pot outside as the tray seemed so shallow. I’d like to use it more in winter but not sure how? I started radish on there too. They went very leggy. I think the light was too high maybe?

  18. Joseph Mccafferty on May 1, 2021 at 1:39 am

    Hi Steve. I’ve got my peppers (scotch bonnet, cayenne and red bell) on the south-facing bedroom windowsills. They have beautiful leaves, but because of the roof overhang they haven’t had any direct sunlight for over a month. Flower buds appeared over a week ago but they haven’t done anything since then. Do the flowers need direct sunlight to open, because they aren’t going to get any for another month?

  19. D N on May 1, 2021 at 1:39 am

    Could I be cheeky and ask what prices on power is for grow lights? Are the LED better.

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