DIY Greenhouse? Growing on a Budget

Happy Sunday, folks!

So, as I said on my last post, I work in politics. Not fancy politics, but grassroots organizing. As you can imagine, it’s not a super lucrative career. I can’t afford fancy, plant enclosures with the best lighting or whatever, and I only live in a two bedroom apartment, so space is something I’m constantly evaluating. Growing plants on a budget can be a fun creative process, however, because it allows you to look at everyday household items in a different way!

For my birthday last year, my partner’s mom got me a really dope gardening set! It’s basically these white, open box style growing spaces that have light strips included. I believe she got these off of Amazon, and I found similar ones for about $20-$30. They stack on top of each other, so I just stuck them to the wall and bam! Cute lil set up. She also got me some plastic pots, peat pots, and seeds, so I was really excited to grow some herbs!

Until I couldn’t get the dang seeds to germinate.

I was so annoyed. Luckily, we consulted another green thumb in my partner’s family, and they suggested putting some time of plastic hood to enclose the space and lock in the heat. This makes perfect sense. When you’re growing herbs, you want to control as much of the environment as you can, so you can get the best possible yield. So, I got creative. Obviously, you want a material that can help lock in heat and humidity, but you don’t want anything that will give the space an airtight seal. Oxygen and CO2 need to be able to flow in and out as both of these gases play an important role in germinating seeds and helping them grow. I had some cling wrap in the kitchen and that seemed to do the trick! I wrapped my set up in the cling wrap, leaving some doors for myself to get in the to provide water and what not. additionally, I put little sandwich bags around the peat pots after watering the soil to also lock in that moisture. Finally, I bought a wireless humidifier for about $20 to stick in there with the plants. The humidifier I bought was great, but it was a little intense. Condensation would fall on the cling wrap, leaving a moist, warm environment for the seeds.

Version one of DIY Greenhouse

Pretty soon after I did this, I started getting results! My parsley was the first to grow and boy, it shot up fast. Sage and Basil followed suit soon after. I never got my thyme seeds to sprout, but my lavender just recently began to pop out of the soil. It was so exciting! However, I quickly saw another issue arise. My plants would grow a little spindly. Their stems were softer and they often leaned on the side of the pots instead of standing upright. I had an idea of what the issue was, but the mushroom growing on the side of one of the peat pots confirmed it. That wireless humidifier I bought was a little *too* effective. My little greenhouse was too moist and warm.

Too much humidity!!

Luckily, my plants survived my mess up. I changed the humidifier to one that used less water and was less aggressive and aired it out more frequently. My herbs responded quickly, with their stems growing stronger and leaves perking up. Their peat pots were on their last legs, as they’re only really meant to be used for a short period of time, so now all of my successful spouts sit comfortably in their clay pots. I have to admit, I’m a little nervous. All of the herbs had impressive roots, but they’re still young. I potted them in well drained soil with rocks on the bottom for added drainage and worm castings to help give more nutrients for rooting to the soil. Fingers crossed that they enjoy their new homes!

Now, I have a new batch of herb seeds waiting to germinate in the DIY greenhouse, and I changed it up a little to hopefully be more hospitable. instead of wrapping the cling wrap around the whole greenhouse, I made flaps, so it can breathe slightly better, and I decreased the number of pots in there so its less crowded. I also included some leaves that I’m propagating so I can see how those do, as well.

DIY greenhouse version 2

All in all, I think all the materials to make this would’ve cost me about $60. $20 for the structure, $30 for the humidifier, pots, and seeds, and $10 for the cling wrap. That’s not too bad!

What DIY projects have you done lately and what do you think I should tweak to help these plants grow? Let me know in the comments!

Categories: DIY

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