New indoor gardeners often ask how to grow vegetables indoors without sunlight.
You can grow vegetables indoors without sunlight, but you can not grow vegetables without light.
All vegetables are photosynthetic meaning they convert light into food. So you can not grow vegetables without light.
Some vegetables require more light than others. Plants like tomatoes are on the high end while lettuce is on the lower end.
How To Grow Vegetables Indoors Without Sunlight
If you want to grow vegetables indoors without sunlight you will still need a light source. Some plants can survive on a windowsill.
But for best results, you will need artificial lighting to grow just about anything but the plants with the lowest light requirements.
LED grow lights are the best choice for growing a wide variety of plants indoors.
They provide more light at a lower cost than any other lighting method. They also don’t put out a lot of heat in the process.
If you want a good grow light, I am using this LED light in my garden. It is a good value for the money.
Here is my Spider Farmer SF2000 unboxing and review. Spider Farmer SF2000 Unboxing And Review (indoorvegetablegrower.com)
Inside My Indoor Vegetable Garden
Here is a video showing my kitchen garden under the Spider Farmer SF2000. Everything grows really well under this light.
I am lighting a 3 x 6 square foot area with it. It provides full-spectrum light. This is as close to natural sunlight as you can get indoors.
I put higher light plants like tomatoes or peppers in the center. Then I add lettuce, greens, or other lower light plants around the edges.
This is my take on square foot gardening indoors. Each fabric pot is about 12 inches around.
They are placed about that distance apart but my tomato plant has a bit more space because of its size.
Growing Vegetables In Coco Coir And Fabric Pots
If you are thinking about growing vegetables indoors you will need to use soil or some other growth medium.
I really recommend you choose coco coir over conventional potting mix. Coco weighs half as much as potting soil.
It will also enable you to use a smaller pot size. You can get the same yield in a pot half the size.
Coco coir is reusable and a sustainable resource made from coconut husks while peat is mined from wetlands.
Everything in my garden is in 2-gallon fabric pots with the exception of my potatoes and my garlic.
These pots sit in trays that I add water to. So I am bottom watering my vegetables because top watering can cause problems with wet foliage.
The combination of coco coir and fabric pots works very well with this method. It can work with plastic pots too.
But the key to success is using coco coir which has superior wicking capabilities. Soil would probably get waterlogged with this method.
Shade Tolerant Or Lower Light Plants
Here is a list of some vegetables that can tolerate some shade or have lower light requirements. This list is from: https://www.almanac.com/vegetables-grow-shade
Most herbs should be on the list too. They are good candidates for a windowsill.
While these plants will grow with less light that does not mean they won’t do better with more light.
Many herbs like basil should be on the list too but beans probably should not be considered a low-light plant.
Most veggies really need at least 6 hours of sunlight. With less light, they will take longer to mature or may not bear a crop.
Other Indoor Plant Lighting
Fluorescent shop lights can be used for low-light plants but they are less efficient than LED lights.
They use more electricity and give off more heat. They also lack the power to get down into the lower parts of the plant.
You cant use regular incandescent light bulbs for vegetables. They give off too much heat and are not a good spectrum for plant growth.
HID lights like metal halide lights will grow good crops but they use a lot of electricity and give off too much heat.
HPS lights have a good spectrum for flowering but not vegetative growth. They will promote stretching on younger plants.
In short, the best way to replace sunlight is with LED grow lights.
How To Grow Vegetables Indoors Without Sunlight Final Thoughts
If you are serious about growing vegetables indoors you will want to consider using supplemental lighting.
There are some vegetables that have lower light requirements.
You might be able to grow greens, lettuce, and herbs on a sunny windowsill.
But for tomatoes, peppers, and most other vegetables you will not have enough natural light without supplementing with indoor grow lights.