The Spare Closet Garden

If you live in an area where space outdoors is tough to come by, here are some ideas for creating a "closet garden." In the example shown, the six inch PVC system is custom fit inside this available space. You will find that this configuration works well for maintaining a steady supply of salad greens, herbs and flowers by virtue of the two-level arrangement. On the lower level, a fluorescent light of 40 Watts is used to start seedlings and root cuttings that are kept inside the 10"x20" humidity domed flat at lower left. If you wish to take cuttings for speedier growth and more solid stock, you can use the remaining area for growing a "mother" plant, which is used for the sole purpose of providing cuttings. Once the cuttings or seedlings are well rooted, you can easily transplant them to the upper part of your closet for placement into your modified PVC system and exposure to the High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamp. WARNING: Be very careful to keep your lamp at least 24" from all surfaces, walls and ceiling. Installing a small vent fan in the ceiling is also a necessity, because heat will build up quickly. Use the type commonly found in bathrooms -100-150 CFM (cubic feet/ minute) should be fine for most small areas.

If you do a careful job of blocking light between the upper and lower halves, you can force flower your favorites by reducing the daylight hours of operation to 12-14 hours per day. While your flowers are blooming on top, your next crop can be rooting below. On a system this small, you can save a lot of hassles by leaving out the internal spray lines and using the same method of injection that the four inch PVC system uses. That is simply a direct spray down and into the chamber. Use a strong chain secured to a stud in the ceiling to support the light and allow you to raise or lower it according to the height of your crop.

Enjoy fresh fruit & flowers when there's a foot of snow outside!

Design Layout Self Watering Garden

In the example on this page we use the self watering Autopots to create a nice little pepper and tomato garden from a spare closet in the garage. This system is designed to be very low maintenance and with a 5 gallon gravity fed reservoir which has been lasting about 4-5 days between fill-ups. I started the peppers from seed and the tomatoes were given to me by a customer, they looked a little sickly at first, but after a week in the Autopots, they got their color back and caught right up to the peppers. The layout of this system allows plants to grow to heights of 30-36" and features forced ventilation and a shaded nursery/reservoir area that keeps stray light from reaching the main production area. I also used a 2" thick foam board to insulate the plants from the cold concrete floor. HID lamp on a pulley system, ballast on shelf to keep the heat away from the plants and close to the exhaust fan.

Yourself Floor Shelf
Bell peppers and cherry tomatoes grow like weeds under the 400W metal halide super sun system. When the fruits begin to set, we will change to 400W HPS and change to a "bloom" feeding regimen to promote fruit development.
Dutch Bucket Hydroponic Gardens
The author built this simple 8x12' greenhouse in his yard in just a few weekends and for less than $1200 in lumber and GE Thermoclear glazing.

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