Monday, March 16, 2009

To expand the cultivation areas

Today I've been standing in an open window, more than eleven yards over ground, and felt a bit dizzy. I've finally got around to start cleaning out my study-to-be where I'm going to work together with my plants (they are growing - I am writing). The first thing to do was to fix the venetian blind since its strings are broken. In Sweden the rule is that venetian blinds are put between the glasses in the doubble glazing (which nowadays are tripple glazing) and the strings are partly run in channels through the window. We do have some new string for mending purposes, but when I opened the window I saw that it was close to impossible to reach those spots you needed to reach if you wanted to restring the thing. That's when I fetched a wire cutter, cut the imporant pieces and removed the entire blind.

Why I felt dizzy? Well, I cleaned the window to get maximal sunlight for my plants, and I'm afraid of heights. Standing in an open window on the fourth flour made my knees rattle a bit.

Now I have an extra window for my plants, but what do you do if you don't have that many windows - or if you even more space for cultivation? You can put your indoor gardens anywhere in your flat, as long as you provide light. All begins and ends with the light.

To use the light you get from the window you can garden in levels. The first thing I'll do in my study-to-be is to put a shelving unit right in front of (behind?) the windowsill. This gives me some extra space to put plants in the lightest part of the room - as long as I'm placing them right. On the windowsill I'll put short plants, like babyleaves, and on the shelving unit I'll put taller plants - for the moment nasturtium and dwarf sugar snaps in big pots with trellises. During the lighter period of the year this could mean I could refrain from using grow lights. Still I'll put some flourescent tubes over the shelving units - I like being better safe than sorry.

If you are using added light - flourescent tubes or LEDlights - you can place your plants wherever you like. There are a few easy rules to this; use either full colour-, cold white or special lights for flowers, and the lamps should be placed ten centimeters (four inches) above the plants (the farther from the plants, the lesser good does the light do). Since plants do grow it's best to make sure that you can elevate the lamps every now and then. For my own part I'm using chains with links big enough to hang a s-hook in. This way it's easy to change the position of the light. Grant it, I seldom hang it unevenly, my inner aestetic screams when I try...

Another thing to think of is that you should be able to stand the light too. Plants want light for 12 to 14 hours, and you'll be in you home at least part of that time. In other words, if you put some cultivation areas in your sleeping room you need to set the timer to light the lights after you've left your bed - and idealy you should see to that you have a few hours without the grow light in the evening to get a more normal backlighting. Especially cold white light gives a scary lab feeling to the room, and you may want to curl up with a book and some candles without having to do a rampage through the technical stuff.

Those of you who have read Indoor Gardener regularly may notice something different on the picture above. It used to be cold blue light. The reason for this was thrift - ordinary flourescent tubes are much cheaper than special grow lights and work as well as them. But when I changed the tubes this winter I noticed that the manufacturer had released 'flower lights', which costs just as little as flourescent tubes, so I decided to try them. Could they really be as good as real growlights? As you can see they give a purple shine to the room, and plants are said to thrive in the red-blu spectra (red + bue = purple). Personally I like it, it's a softer light than the cold blue we had before. The plants looks healthy, so this may be an experiment with a positive outcome.


WiseAcre said...

I'll keep looking to see how those new 'flower lights' work out. I used to use the plain fluorescent tubes in shop lights and they worked fine as long as they were kept within your recommended height above the plants. It's been years now since I grew indoors - the new house just has no room and I'm away from home too often. SIGH

Rosengeranium said...

Too bad - on the other hand you have plenty of chanses to grow stuff outdoors. :)