Like most serious cold climate gardeners I start my garden plants indoors to get a jump on the growing season. I have a shelf system with florescent grow lights that will hold several seed starting flats equipped with a timer switch to regulate the daily lighting cycle. You can read about my system on my Seedling Update blog entry from March 30, 2011. There is no reason that this grow rack could not be used during our winters in Alaska to grow salad greens and herbs along with some small vegetables such as scallions, and maybe even baby carrots or beets. So last week I planted a flat with a variety of lettuce, kale, and Swiss chard. The seedlings have since sprouted and it is time to thin them out today.
I plan to transplant my seedling into a bottom watering system based on my Alaska Grow Buckets using fabric shopping bags. I will be experimenting with some different designs to see what works best and is simple and inexpensive to make.
I anticipate the luxury of making a fresh salad in the middle of our long winter. The added benefit of some green plants adding a splash of color to our often drab landscape should be a welcome relief and just may help offset some of my winter cabin fever. Many people do try to fill their indoor space with ornamental house plants for this very reason and leafy green vegetables could serve the same purpose with the added benefit of being edible too. For a continued supply, over the next 5 to 6 months, I will try to stagger some plantings to have new seedlings ready to replace mature plants as they are harvested. I will continue to post updates on my progress.