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DIY Indoor Green Salad Garden with LED Lights

© Stephie McCarthy

How to grow salads indoors


In Spring 2020 when the Covid pandemic loomed, local stores ran out of fresh produce in our area … except (of course) radicchio!


We didn't run out of fresh greens at home fortunately, because we have a garden indoors under LED lights. We'd started this garden just a few months before the Pandemic.

We grow 3-4 fabulous cups of salad each day in a dark corner of our basement!

How to set up microgreen shelves

No longer dark, this corner is home to a set of restaurant shelves and inexpensive LED shop lights on a timer. We bought these —wonderful restaurant shelves here—.

They are epoxy coated and wont rust … there are also wheel kits so you can make rolling gardens.


Here's a short list of what we use: A) LED shop lights 5000 Lumen Daylight bulbs; B) restaurant shelves with an epoxy coating to prevent rust, and that are deep and wide enough to hold plant trays and lamps; C) a power strip and timer. The unit shown is an all-in-one and separate timers and power strips will work as well; D) sturdy plant trays; and, E) premium potting soil. We also add perlite or vermiculite and sometimes top dress our trays with peat moss to prevent mold.

The timer below works with 4 lamps, though it has eight outlets.



We discovered these wonderful lights when a begonia bloomed every day of winter stored under one. We started with one, bought them a few at a time as we expanded. Now we have eight … we paid about $20 each from Walmart.

You can also buy them online.



Ideally, you'll want two lamps per shelf if you are using long trays for the seeds, as we do. We used the chains and S-Hooks that came with the lamps to attach the lamps to the shelves.


You'll have no problem finding bulk seeds to grow salads indoors. Our current favorite source is ——. Remember, you'll want to have seeds stored in a cool place in advance to avoid shipping delays during the worst part of a crises.


Our schedule is 1-2 trays per person planted twice a week. Our trays are super-durable 11" x 21" x 2.5" by Koram. Three or four dollars each, these will not tear or need replacing. Remember that a tray of wet soil can weigh a lot.



Soil is one of our biggest expensive (we plan to start a worm bin this winter to compensate for that). We rely on Happy Frog Potting Soil which works out to about $1.00 per tray.

Buy Happy Frog Soil for Microgreens

Chamomile Tea is our favorite ways to prevent mold on our trays. We simply brew a tea of chamomile and spray it on the seedlings. Also, to get rid of fungus gnats, we often leave small cups of coffee near the shelves in which they happily drown themselves.


We add up to 50-percent perlite (or vermiculite) and sometimes top dress with peat moss to help prevent mold. We buy these locally, and if they are available online, we buy from ——


We punch half of our trays with holes, place them in another tray without holes, and bottom water once a day with about a cup of water. The water wicks up into the soil all day.

You'll find lots of information on line about growing salad greens, or microgreens, indoors.

We hope you enjoying seeing how one family makes it work, especially when produce is scarce in the stores.

Oh, and … the salads are amazing!

Watch how to set up a microgreen garden indoors


Visit the Stephie McCarthy YouTube Channel

WheatGrass "Tea"

Read how we use home-grown wheatgrass, an apple, and zucchini to make a rocket fuel energy drink that tastes like sweet green tea, here.



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