Plant project: Nowhere to grow but up
Since I live in a city with no space for a garden, I had to get creative. Bring your garden indoors with this great Earth Day project.
Thursday, April 21, 2011 - 10:10
GREEN YOUR SCENE: If you don't have space for a garden, try planting your herbs and small vegetables indoors. (Photo: Jen Clinton)
Have you ever seen a living wall? Also known as vertical gardens, they are beautiful installations of plants on the inside or outside walls of a building. I was absolutely enchanted the first time I saw them. Unfortunately, as a renting city-dweller on a budget, they don't exactly fit my lifestyle right now. But who says I can't adapt?
I found my inspiration for an indoor, DIY vertical garden from an old tutorial on Instructables. The writer had trouble with cats in her garden, so she made a vertical one to keep them away. With a little creative experimentation, I created my own indoor hanging garden for Earth Day!
(Disclaimer: Since this is my first garden of any kind, I'll probably be making some mistakes. Adapt this project to what fits your needs and your plants' needs best!)
Over-the-door shoe organizer. Make sure it's a breathable fabric, like canvas; plastic will let in a lot of light and plant roots won't like it. Also, be sure it can hold a lot of weight, as the soil and water will weigh it down considerably. You might want to consider reinforcing it with extra grommets and hooks.
Hanging supplies. I hooked the organizer over my sunroom door with hooks included in the organizer, but you may need something like a curtain rod and additional hooks, depending on where you're placing it. See the old tutorial for her suggestion.
Window flower box. It should be at least as wide as the shoe organizer, and waterproof.
Paper towel roll and duct tape/hot glue. A piece of wood works, as well. It will keep the water off your wall — especially important for the indoors!
Compost/soil. The best choices are organic and retain moisture well. You may need additional fertilizer depending on your plants.
Plants and seeds. Avoid anything that will produce very heavy fruits and vegetables (see: pumpkins). I started with these: cilantro, parsley, basil, spinach, dill, buttercrunch and mixed lettuce, peas and some columbine. This was definitely an experiment for me, so try whatever you like.
Pick a bright, sunny spot for your hanging garden. If you don't have one with at least six hours of full sun, choose shade-loving plants (it will say on the seed packet/plant marker). Hook the organizer over a door, or install a sturdy pole to the wall to secure the organizer to. (Check with your landlord before drilling holes in the wall!)
After hanging the organizer, place the flower box underneath it to catch any excess water. Attach the paper towel roll across the bottom of the organizer (using hot glue or duct tape) so that it doesn't touch the wall at any point.
Check to see if your new garden drains well. Pour a little water in a pocket to see if it drips out; if not, add a few holes.
Fill each pocket you're using with soil. If you're planting seeds, leave one inch between the soil and the edge of the pocket and drop in two seeds. If you're using plants, make sure to take the entire root system out of the planter, place it in the pocket, and fill the rest of the space with dirt up to the one-inch mark.
Water your plants, just enough to keep the soil moist. Make sure excess water lands in the planter and doesn't run down your wall!
Label your plants and seeds. Keep them happily watered and sunny until you can use some of them in your cooking. Trim any leaves or plants that are deteriorating, and keep your eyes out for bugs, even indoors.
This was so much fun to make; I can't wait for the whole thing to start growing! Good luck with your project and Happy Earth Day!