The condo farm part 2
A few weeks ago, my twin sister Katie taught me how to make a sub-irrigated planting container to grow lettuce in my apartment. While spacious, my rented condo has very poor light. So we put together a shelving system with hanging florecent lights to act as artificial sun. We also planted several new types of vegetables.
Here's a video showing how we did it. The full instructions are below. Happy planting!
What we used:
Two metal shelving units, about three or four feet high, standing side by side.
Fluorescent hanging light fixture
Two full-spectrum fluorescent bulbs
Two one-foot-long aluminum chains, 1/2" wide, and four metal S hooks
24 peat pots
The new vegetables and their fancy names:
Lolla Rosa Darkness lettuce
Little Gem Cos lettuce
Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean
Easter Egg radish
French Breakfast radish
Teddy Bear sunflowers
All the supplies were picked up at Home Depot. The shelves we used were Rubbermaid, which were the perfect height and had great and adjustable shelving space but, despite several efforts to secure the screws, required reinforcement with duct tape.
Once the shelves were put together, we stood them next to each other with about a foot and a half of space between them beneath my window.
For the lights we used T-8 (slimmer lower energy fluorescent lighting tubes) full-spectrum tubes. We rigged the light system just in time. My lettuce has been growing for a few weeks and prior to our grow light being set up the sprouts were only receiving light from a single fluorescent bulb.
As a result the new sprouts have become a bit "leggy" or longer and taller than they should be as they grew in search of the sun.
(Image of leggy, but beautiful, sprouts on the left)
Once the tubes were loaded in the fixture, we secured pieces of wire, which came with the shelves, to the top and attached the “S” hooks and chains. Those hooks and chains were used to hang the light fixture from the highest of the three shelves on the metal unit. As the plants grow the height of the light can be adjusted by raising and lowering the fixture on the chain links.
Our vegetables were planted in tiny peat pots. When they outgrow their first pots (fingers crossed) there is no need to remove the plants -- the entire pot can be placed inside a larger planter and packed with soil. The roots will “bust through” the sides of the peat pots when they are ready, says Katie. but we will give them a helping hand by slitting the sides and removing the peat pot bottom when its time to plant.
We fill the peat pots with soil, firm it down and place the pots in a plastic tray to catch water overflow. Then we moisten the soil with water to ensure all the soil and the pots are wet.
Create labels. You can use popsicle sticks, but cardboard cut into similar sized strips worked. Katie recommends cut-up tetra packs and a sharpie for label making. She insists on writing the name of the plant, when it was planted, and the approximate growing times.
When planting seeds, the rule of thumb is to plant them at 1 to 1.5 times their depth.
Katie has dubbed the farm "Tall Acres"
My only problem will be if I need to leave town for a few days. Wondering how much people charge to come over and turn on and off my artificial sun.