Big Growth From Little Spaces
Indoor gardens aren’t just for people with enough space for a dedicated grow room. Even if you live in a tiny studio apartment in a city high-rise, you can raise a crop of your own. Check out these systems that work in even the most limited spaces.
On a Windowsill
If your home has a window that faces south or west and gets unimpeded light, you can use it for growing hydroponically. At our.windowfarms.org, you’ll find plans for building a system that uses recycled bottles and a small pump to raise up to 32 plants in one window.
A professor in Hawaii, Bernard Kratky, Ph.D., developed a simple setup for growing hydroponic crops in a plastic storage container with a lid. It’s noncirculating, so there’s no air pump or tubing needed. You can see how to make it for yourself in “Build a Basic Hydroponic System.” Read the professor’s description of how it works here.
You can buy kits that are about the same size but also come with a pump to circulate the nutrients, which can speed plants’ growth and increase their productivity. See one simple model at supercloset.com.
In the space occupied by a large bathtub, you can grow about 20 plants on a tower garden. It uses vertical space to give the plants room to grow, and it’s aeroponic, so no soil or other growing media is needed. It will be most productive if it gets light on all sides. Anyone with basic construction skills can build one, or you can order a simple kit from towergarden.com.
Grow Cabinets or Tents
If you want to grow flowering crops indoors, you may need to carefully control the photoperiod, or the amount of light and darkness that the plants get each day. The most reliable way to do that is to set up your indoor garden where only grow lights shine on the plants. A small closet can work, if you can seal it tightly enough that no ambient light slips in. Or you can buy a grow box or cabinet that takes up as little as 2 to 4 square feet of floor space. The best of these come with lights, ventilation, and a complete hydroponic setup, including containers and air pumps. Even basic models can be pricey, starting at more than $300. Grow tents let you set up, take down, and store the garden with ease in almost any size space. You can find small models for about $250.