My indoor alpine strawberry garden experiment

Hello everyone,

I wanted to make this post for two main purposes. The first is to post the results of the indoor strawberry garden I’m setting up so anyone else motivated to do so will have some information for the future and the second is for tips, tricks or criticisms people may have about my experiment. A quick background, I started gardening 2.5 years ago and unfortunately due to work related reasons I am currently living in an apartment and won’t be able to have access to my “garden” on a regular basis for 2 years (don’t worry, my family is tending to and enjoying the garden back home).

My set up is mostly recycled from previous gardening endeavors but everything has been clean or sterilized equipment:

  • Alpine strawberries of various cultivars (will be started from seed): pineapple crush, yellow wonder, Hawaii 4, reine de vallees and bowlenzauber (bowlenzauber will be added a few weeks later than the other varieties). I decided on alpines over conventional strabwerries for four reasons, the general pest resistance, the lower light requirement, the cultivars chosen are day neutrals and finally and most importantly I enjoy them much more.
  • Vivosun 1 gallon grow bags
  • Viparspectra XS1000 LED grow light
  • Vivosun 2x2 grow tent - One of the items I did purchase for my indoor garden, not sure if its necessary but I like being able to have complete control over the environment
  • A soilless potting mixture composed of peat, coconut coir, perlite, Mycorrhizae and ph balanced with lime (pro-mix Moisture Potting Mix). Quick note on this, when it was purchased it did have a hole in the bag, Im not sure if this may have allowed pests to get in?
  • For pest control I’ll be using mosquito bits for fungus gnat control (thank you for the suggestion @YumYumTrees) as well as neem oil concentrate for other common pests such as spider mite.
  • For fertilizer I will be using 4-4-4 Dr. Earth organic fertilizer once established and a 1-1-1 water soluble miracle gro solution while they are seedlings
  • Other random items such as a thermometer, desk fans etc to help control the tent environment

I will make sure to post progress pictures as this little experiment continues but would love any and all comments/feedback or tips before everything really gets going.

Thanks!

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im a bit worried about the advertised 20% light decrease after 2 years.

Only way that’s possible with quality leds (that they claim to use) is if you unproperly drive or cool those leds to the point of damage.

I would not expect a 20% light decrease within a decade for a properly build LED fixture. Let alone 2 years.

The cheap price and short advertised lifetime makes me assume they skimped on parts. And thus i would not assume the lamp to not be a safety/fire hazard. Especially if put on a cheap timer with a smal internal relay not build/specced for the 10’s if not 100 amps current spike when switching on due to inrush current from charging a cap.

In short. Make sure you have a smoke detector around.

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Thank you so much for this comment. I was completely unaware of that, I received the light a while back as a gift and have used it for seed starting. Unfortunate that this is the most expensive part of the system but overall cheaper than a burnt down apartment!

i might just be overly cautious. But if heard story’s of cheap leds burning down houses. And build my own lights and some “art” with leds. And Learning the in’s and out’s i would not instal a led fixture/light in my house with a no brand name adapter. (driver)

I gues you could use it. But just make sure you have a smoke detector. And if you put it on a timer. Either lookup (if it is published/measured) what the maximum inrush is. Or use an industrial relay. (those can handle peaks of 300A inrush. Or use an inrush limiter like. ICL-16L-MEAN WELL Switching Power Supply Manufacturer

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LED’s are low voltage devices and the Bloom only consumes 90 watts. I can’t imagine the charging of a capacitor would be of any significance. Also circuit board fuses only cost a few pennies so I would hope it has one. Is the Bloom BP1000 UL Listed?

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A single led is low voltage. But a hundred in series, plenty of voltage to kill a person. A cheap power supply with poor safety precautions also dangerous.

You got a very good point to look if it’s UL listed though. Even if it’s UL listed it’s still not wise to use it in combination with a cheap timer.

than you need to learn to be more imaginative :slight_smile:

Or alternativly look at for example this data sheet of a 100w led power supply.
https://www.meanwell.com/webapp/product/search.aspx?prod=LPC-100

If you look under input. You See peak inrush current is 75 A. And they recommend using no more than 1 on a B type circuit breaker.
An small fuse on the circuit board won’t fix this problem.
And this is a quality brand power supply.

A cheap timer will contain a relay that can handle no more than 16A on resistive load. Over that and you usually get (plasma) arcing inside the relay. This arc is thousands of degree’s hot and can easily start a fire. The maximum rating is there for a reason.
Also due to how relays work. They most easily arc/damage when turning on or off. And at turning on is when the large inrush current occurs. So it won’t just go over the rating by a factor of 4+ it will also do it when the relay is most sensitive.

The inrush current is there because the input side cap will act like a short. If you put a fuse in front of that. It will either burn trough on first turn on. Or it won’t protect in any way.

The ICL-16L has some fancy electronics and a higher load (probably temperature sensitive) resistor in it. To limit the inrush and spread it over more time.

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Wouldn’t a simple outlet surge protector fix this issue though?

NO.

Surge protectors protect against overvoltage from lightning for example.

The problem here is your using a device way outside it’s rated current. (the cheap timer’s relay) So you either have to get a device with a higher rating. Or a device the brings the inrush current to levels within it’s rated maximum.

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Are you going to post pictures of the different plants?

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Thank you again, I appreciate it!

Yes I will be. Im just now getting the rest of what I need to start up the project and will be sowing the seeds likely on Monday.

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Update #1 6/20/21:
Everything is set up and ready to go. I’ve pretreated my soil with mosquito bit tea just to ensure that there were no fungus gnats already in the soil mixture I had. I will be treating with mosquito bit tea every week for the first month or so just for insurance purposes as I’ve read their population can be quite difficult to get under control once they’ve started up. I will use additional tea if I notice any gnats in the future. In addition, Ive decided that I will be treating the plants on an alternating weekly cycle of neem oil spray and horticulture soap spray. I may add spinosad into the cycle but I need to read up on safety especially in an indoor environment, any commentary on this topic is appreciated. In addition, instead of miracle gro, I found a bag of 4-4-4 Dr. Earth organic fertilizer that I will be using. Seeds will be sown tomorrow!


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Do you really need that many insecticidal treatments? Especially before you have even a small problem?

Om my passiflora i keep indoors, if only encountered 2 pests (wooly aphid and red spider mites) in 3 years. And only after adding new plants to my collection.

I do however make a point of it to not go straight from my garden to the passiflora. Usually wash hands and change out of my gardening clothes.

since indoors is decently isolated from outdoors, introducing pests is more rare. If your worried about flying ones. You could put a stocking or fine mesh over the air intake.

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How come no woodland strawberry cultivars?

Be sure to keep the soil very moist / misted.

Mostly due to reading other peoples experiences with growing indoor strawberries. It sounds like small populations can grow quite large in a very short span of time given the lack of predation. My choice of using neem oil was because it not only kills some pests but it also deters many others. From the reading that I’ve done on it, it sounds quite benign to both the plant and mammals. The same goes for horticultural soap beside the lack of deterring pests. As for spinosad, I have yet to do any real readings on it and it was a very early thought. Does your pasiflora bloom and produce fruits indoors? If so and you’re still having such infrequent pest problems, I may change my plans. Thanks again for your input!

The main reason was that this is all just an early test and I’m trying to keep costs low. I already had those four alpine varieties and figured I’d start there. Are there woodland strawberry cultivars you recommend? From my understanding, although woodland and alpine are often used interchangeably, most bred varieties out there are by definition alpine. I’ve also read that true woodland strawberries are June bearing and given the lack of seasons in an indoor environment, they wouldn’t be ideal.

If used neem oil once or twice. Even at lower than commonly described dose. And my passiflora dropped all their leaves.

I think there might be a chance it can damage your young seedlings leaves. Mature strawberry leaves are a little more robust and can probably take it.

My passiflora flower just fine indoors. I do however grow them for flower and not fruit indoors. I have added a few supposedly good tasting fruit variety’s this year. But mostly those aimed at growing outside or in a greenhouse for me.

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Oh wow, very good to know. Maybe I’ll rethink my liberal use of neem. I may also potentially spray the bags and the distant soil at least for the deterring properties.

or do a test spray on a single leaf/plant and wait 1-2 days. (is always wise)

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After having done several hours of research I’ve decided to upgrade my lighting situation. Prime day had some amazing deals and I was able to snag Viparspectra XS1000 for $83. Kind of ruins the whole idea of this being a cheap trial run but it has a MeanWell driver, improved LM301B Samsung diodes as well as a much more efficient heat sink. It will be well worth the money if it means my apartment doesn’t burn down in the process. Thank you again @oscar for recommending I delve deeper into the lighting. Finally, I grabbed some insect netting to cover the airflow ports while not blocking air being moved by the fans.

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