|Our home office/nursery|
In a sense, I'm being paid to plant an indoor garden. My book will use hundreds of houseplants to create fifty planted container combinations, all of which will be grown on, planted and photographed by yours truly. Growing and combining all of these plants will be a blast to be sure, but maybe I should add that I'll be growing all of these plants in my 1000 square foot apartment. Crazy, right? Anyways, here's what I did with just one of the rooms in my home to create a miniature nursery.
|A small fan circulates air throughout the room|
Get Rid of Clutter
If you were breaking ground on a garden outdoors, you would first clear away any unwanted weeds, trees and shrubs before preparing the bed. Indoors, this means moving furniture. In addition to getting rid of unwanted furniture and junk, you'll find that cleaning up excess clutter around the rest of the room makes the indoor garden itself look a lot more attractive. You should have plenty of room to take care of the plants, set down watering cans and still go about your everyday business, and the best way to do that is to keep all floors and surfaces clean.
|Red LED tubes give my succulents supplemental light|
Provide Lots of Light
This is easy if you have large windows with the kind of warm sunshine that napping cats like to occupy, but if you have small north facing windows like myself, you'll need a bit of help. Luckily for us, 'grow lights' are more efficient and affordable than ever. From high intensity sodium bulbs and high output fluorescent fixtures to cool burning LED lamps, there's a solution for everyone.
Sunlight Supply helped provide several products that would help me grow the plants needed for the book, and I'd like to share how well they're working. The real workhorse is the Sun Blaze T5 HO Fluorescent light, which makes this room much brighter than my north facing balcony.
I'm particularly smitten with the new LED options available, such as the 'Hangover'; a blindingly bright bulb outfitted with intense LED lights in red, white and blue that simply hangs over your plants like a pendant. Their AgroLED tubes work a lot like fluorescent tubes, except that they're filled with tiny bright LED bulbs. They require no ballast, produce hardly any heat, and the fixtures weigh much less than the fluorescent models.
|A drip pan purchased from the automotive department keeps water from reaching the carpet|
Catch Excess Water
I do believe that this is what prevents most people from bothering with more than a few plants indoors, but it's easy to grow lots of plants without fear of losing the security deposit. Plastic saucers can be purchased inexpensively, but rather than buy all of my plastic drip saucers, I've re-purposed the plastic containers from our Chinese takeout. For smaller containers, but it's still all too easy to accidentally dribble water on the furniture or carpet, so I've used aluminum baking trays and a big drip tray from the automotive department. They also reflect light, provide humidity as the water evaporates and are easy to clean.
|A table was made by placing the drip tray on two crates. I'll add another light over the baker's rack.|
Plan Your 'Beds'
When deciding where all of those plants will go, remember that they must receive enough light, be easy to reach and be pleasing to the eye. Because you'll be carefully watering, grooming and rearranging each plant, everything should be less than an arm's reach, or two feet away.
My solution was to create a long and narrow strip from the window to the wall that visually splits the room into two halves. A high output fluorescent grow light is suspended directly above, and my makeshift table brings the plants closer to the light. Taller plants can sit on the ground to the side where they won't come in contact with the light and burn.
It isn't just about keeping up appearances. Fallen leaves, weeds and dirt might look unattractive, but they also foster disease and pests, possibly leading to the demise of your collection. I inspect the plants every time I water, removing yellow leaves and pests as I go and tossing them in the trash. If a plant gets badly infested, I'll remove the bugs with insecticidal soap or alcohol and a cotton swab before keeping it quarantined to make sure all pests were removed.
A painter's tarp was set out to catch fallen debris before it gets ground into the carpet, and I use a shop-vac to vacuum around the plants on the ground. The drip tray easily wipes clean with a paper towel or moist rag.
This is only one of the rooms where I'll be growing plants, so stay tuned and wish me luck!