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HWJ I found a map of community gardens nationwide.I was amaze there is so many of them in my area by the one dot on the map.

According to the map there is a lot of community gardens in your area out west. Try this link
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I can't imagine using a grow light system inside a small van space, unless it were very very tiny.  Unless the technology has changed considerably, the heat generated by specialized grow lights and the transformers is considerable, and then there is the electricity to consider.  If you are working on a very tiny garden, like a few herbs and a flower, then a fluorescent on a tiny timer would work, or even one with a daylight bulb.  You'd have to dedicate some surface space to it, or maybe a small shelf system in your van or RV, obviously easier in an RV or converted trailer than in a van.  I've really thought about this one, and experimented with it in Scotty, but land is land.  Your best and easiest bet, I agree, is to find long term parking during the growing season and a community garden.  

If the place you park is amenable, you can also have plenty of pots outside your living space, as long as you keep them neatly.  You can also use double lined garbage bags well-pierced on the bottom and full of compost, dirt, and peat moss, as a growth medium.  White ones reflect heat if you are in hot areas, and/or you can cover the bag with a rug or other discarded material.  Even one of those fake green plastic grass rugs!  This has the added benefit of acting as mulch and helping to keep in moisture.  Slash the top of the bag as it sits on the ground and plant your little seedlings in, gathering the cloth around the bag opening.  You add water and compost tea thru the opening (judiciously).  This is great for tomatoes or other vining stuff if you have something for them to climb on nearby.  You can conceal the 'bagginess' by placing some nicer pots in front of it.  And a drip system would do really well for this, but they are very expensive and take maintenance, unless you are clever enough to construct homemade.  Most good growing references will give you the length of time that your plant will take to mature, as will the seed packet if you are growing from seed.  That way you can have an idea of how long you'll need to sit still with your garden!  This is obviously not a method for stealth.  LOL!!

I wouldn't advise a planter box on the roof of a regular RV, again as I said before due to weight.  A clear cover over will prevent spillage but will also fry your roots.  I don't know about converted trailers or vans with ladder racks, but I guess it depends on what the payload of your rack is.  it would probably do very well on a converted bus with a platform above it.  A good reference to consult, I think, is Bartholemew's Square Foot Gardening.  He has a section on small square foot boxes up on supports, and I think he talks about approximate weights.  Another resource is your local Dept of Ag Master Gardener.  They may not know, but they should know how to find out.

I have a dream about putting a bubble on the top of Josephine someday, with plexi panels in the roof of it, and hooks for shade cloth, and a nice growing garden right there in the top of the van!  To drreeeeeeem the imposssibilblle dreeeeeeemmmmm......  Ah, I can smell the southern jasmine....
'95 Dodge B2500 shorty named Josephine
Working for two furry little slave drivers
Full time previously for several years and full time once again in Nov 2016
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pondputz, that Aerogarden looks super fabulous, but I don't think it would work well for the mobile lifestyle just from an electricity requirement.  I have no idea how much it takes, but lights are generally electricity hogs, if they are not LED.

Do you happen to have any idea what the electrical load is for something like that?

I've never had a lot of success growing my own plants, even if I grew up on a farm.  I've never been able to stop trying tho. Every once in a while, I decide it's time to try again, and then I end up failing miserably, and give up for a while.  I'm thinking it's time to give it a try again.  I'll read thru the container gardening link, I like the idea, but I'm not really sure how I can fit that in my van currently!

With Love,
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I think it would be difficult to grow regular tomatoes and cukes in pots that have to be moved. They are huge plants that will grow along the ground and be very hard to lift and move without breaking. I've done that with tomatoes that I let get too big in the pots before planting out and it was just impossible to move them safely. However, if you stick to pigmy, dwarf varieties you will probably be ok if you can get them enough light. They need to sit out in the full sun all day and only put inside when moving to another location. One day indoors without light is not going to hurt them, especially if they have already flowered. You might lose a few cherry tomatoes to shaking but I think it would be worth doing. 

If you truly want an indoor light garden, plain cheap fluorescent lights are fine, especially if you can get "grow" bulbs, but will be ok with reg cheap bulbs too. You need to keep the plants small and the tops right up against the bulbs. Most fluorescents produce light in the purple/blue range and plants need a little of the red, which you get with incandescent bulbs. If you can give them incandescent light from even just a 15 watt bulb for a short time each day or some sunlight from a window, it will be enough. I have had great success growing under a plain desktop fluorescent lamp near a window - but only small plants, greens and veggie seedlings and baby berry bushes.

You can always prune back the full sized ones and keep them small but you won't get a lot of produce doing that. 

Carrots might grow that way too, since the tops are small. Carrots are a long season plant however, needing cooler temps and least three weeks to germinate, so unless you have a lot of time to wait, I would not grow them. Just my experience growing carrots... :-(

There's no need to buy a "garden" unit. You can plant and grow smaller things in any container with drainage holes and something underneath to catch the water. I like the hard clear plastic containers that baked goods come in from the grocery store, the ones with the clear lid. They make a nice greenhouse for seed starting. You can start the seeds in styrofoam cups with holes in them too. Any container can be a garden. I have planted in all kinds of things. Bags can work as planters too and you can even hang them. Be creative! Try hanging shoe racks on the side of the van... 

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You can see what I do with seeds to get ideas for planting 




You can see seedlings under a desk top fluorescent lamp and more about growing seedlings Here

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The following 1 user says Thank You to Sheryl for this post:
Gardenias (06-17-2017)
Foraging is another good way to have fresh greens, fruits and veggies when camping. There's a good post about it in the "Hobbies" forum.
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The following 1 user says Thank You to Sheryl for this post:
Gardenias (06-17-2017)
Sheryl - that is true. Could always pick up a Wild Edibles book. I know dandelions are awesome.
We had some Lamb's quarter pop up in our veggie garden this year. Unless it was choking something else out, we kept it and ate it during the harvest season.
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In or near a motor home is going to be a challenge for much more than a few herbs.  However, it is still possible to live on the go and maintain a garden.

First suggestion, rent a plot at a community garden near by.  This has a number of very important advantages.  You get a place to grow as well as stow your gardening tools and supplies.  Often, composting and other services necessary for real growth are supplied or available as well.

Second suggestion, look into guerrilla gardening.  Basically, its a way to use unused land for your own purposes.  Last summer I planted squashes along an irrigation ditch and ended up canning so much zucchini and summer squash I had to give it away.

Author of SF/F since 2013
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The following 1 user says Thank You to Saguache for this post:
Gardenias (06-17-2017)
The ultimate in stealth gardening while vandwelling is to have several gardens on public land that you can garden on the sly.
Done right...They would only need checking a few times during
the growing season.
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The following 1 user says Thank You to Rob S. for this post:
Gardenias (06-17-2017)
Kind of depends where you are. There was a huge drought last year and most plants required evening watering every couple of days to live through it. Lasted months in a few places.

Regarding an Aerogarden, I happen to own a few of these units. They are not water tight and would leak if you had to move. I don't recommend it. Also, for hydroponics, it has to stay on 12-17 hours a day depending on what you are growing.
If you are seriously willing to dedicate indoor space, you will likely want an enclosed unit (so no light can escape) and use soil, rather then hydroponics. Another problem though is that the light source requires a lot of juice.
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The following 1 user says Thank You to HWJ for this post:
Gardenias (06-17-2017)

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