Wednesday, March 31, 2010
A Garden in the Closet
The picture above is of a hydroponic garden, growing in my thirteen-year-old's closet. It's sitting on top of a plastic storage bin, and it is watched daily by our entire family (except the dog — it scares him, bubbling away in there), with varying degrees of amazement and satisfaction. This year at Hanukkah, instead of asking for a video game or iPod or something else totally expected, the boy requested a garden he could grow inside.
He was gently nudged in this direction by my husband and me, but the seed (if you'll pardon the pun) was started a few years ago, when he requested a cactus to keep in his room after admiring a huge one that my mother-in-law keeps in her craft room. He's always liked growing things but never seemed to have any luck. And our sandy, loose soil doesn't help at all. So my husband set off to find the accoutrements for an indoor system, and it turns out the the main crop grown hydroponically is . . . marijuana. This led to some very exciting Internet searches, but we actually found a supplier near us who has no connection to anything illegal or potentially mind-altering.
Ben started seeds for tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro in little peat pots, and I have to tell you, it didn't look good for a while. They were very slow to sprout, and once sprouted they didn't look like they'd make it through the day. When I'd come home from work, I'd creep upstairs to look at the spindly yellow seedlings with despair. But Ben and my husband had more faith than I did — and the life-or-death transplanting to the hydroponic grow pot with its little round marbles of whatever-they-are, the irrigation system, and the food transport was done in a day, and voila!! Look at them now!
The peppers are a little slower to catch on, but the cilantro is looking very cilantro-y, and the tomatoes are as high as an elephant's . . . toenail, in any case. Here's a closer look:
The whole operation is lighted by a very bright grow light hooked up to the ceiling in the closet; it's so bright that, even when the closet door is shut, it looks like ET's spaceship is in there, waiting for takeoff. It's on a timer, so it goes on at 7 a.m. and off at 10 p.m. I'm so gratified that this computer-loving, video-game-playing smartypants is creating his own garden. He's so happy that his plants are getting bigger and bigger and that in the summer we'll be harvesting some superior veggies.
So . . . if you think Storey should publish a book on hydroponic gardening, why not leave a comment on this post? I'm wondering if there are any other "closet" gardeners out there.
— Amy Greeman, Publicity Director