Gardening: Beginning an Indoor Plant Growth Project

For a while I’ve been wanting to grow a variety of plants indoors and very soon I will be starting a project to do exactly that. I’m going to start with a very rudimentary setup using a CFL lamp on a timer. In time I hope to automate the system and add a lot of cool features. Though the central goal is to grow some stuff in the house, this project is also a way for me to pursue a number of other things that interest me. More on that later. See below a basic sketch of what I intend to begin with. There isn’t much to it, mostly I just want to get a few seedlings going to get a feel for plant growth since this is really my first attempt.
Sketch of starting plant growth rig

Sketch of starting plant growth rig

I’ve just received the lamp in the mail so I’ll be setting up something basic to this effect in the next few days. I’m going to start with Basil, Parsely and a random flower. While those first seeds are starting off I’m going to begin designing some of the more elaborate stages that I intend to incorporate into this project down the track. A lot of these are just ideas and I won’t be tackling them all at once. In no particular order:
  • Gather data on soil moisture, temperature, humidity and light level.
  • Create a webdash for all the above data
  • A timelapse photography rig (probably a cheap webcam/old phone setup to begin with, but maybe a proper camera with macro lens down the track)
  • Automated watering system
  • Add ability to control lamp height with a stepper motor and some pulleys.
  • Two separate rigs: Though the current setup is just sitting inside an old desk I have, I’d like to create proper movable rigs that have all the electronics incorporated into their design. I’d want to create one with lamps for growth (6400k) and another with lamps for flowering (2700k) so I could move plants between them.
  • An arduino to coordinate most of the above functions.
  • Maybe an app so I can view the data and control the whole system from my phone.
As you can tell this is a long list of mini projects. Plants take a long time to grow and I have next to no experience in gardening or any of the things listed above so this will be an ongoing learning experience. I’ll be making plenty of posts in future with various stages of development (both in the mini-projects and the plants themselves).

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