Just Hanging Around

I have a few projects I've done over the last few months that I've been meaning to post, so I thought today would be a good day to talk about my indoor, hanging, vertical garden. This is mostly because I've been feeling like a brown thumb lately, and, of all my plant projects, it has been the easiest to execute, easiest to maintain, and the most aesthetically pleasing to look at, so over all, I'd call it a success!

Some of the initial goals I had when trying to come up with an apartment-friendly vertical garden were: it had to be low maintenance, it had to support a few different types of house plants, the planters had to be hydroponic, and it had to fit in with my living room decor. This was around the time I was obsessing over green walls, many of which met only one, if any, of those requirements. At about the same time, my friend and coworker Sindhu (who is forced to hear about each and every one of my planting adventures and therefore has no reason to read my blog and will probably never see this shout-out) made a trip to IKEA and found some hanging baskets that she realized would work perfectly with my mason jar planters to achieve all of my goals. So I must give Sindhu a HUGE THANKS as she is the real genius of getting this project to work vertically!

Look how perfectly the mason jar planters fit into a BITTERGURKA!

My next challenge was figuring out how to get a bunch of different plants to grow with the desired effect. Ideally, I wanted it to be more plant, less planter, so I focused on finding plants that would get bushy or had a tendency to vine or hang. Originally, I thought I'd start some plants from seed and/or grow some plants that required full sun, so I got some clip-on grow lights and a special power cord to support such a setup, but in the end I opted for all shade-tolerant plants and placed the vertical garden by the window so it could soak up as much light as possible (it is a south-facing window, but it's still the Pacific Northwest).

Remember these guys?

Since I was using the mason jar planters, I used only plant cuttings to start my plants as I am still wary of introducing pests into my house via soil (more so now that this has happened to my tomatillos - but more on that in a later post). I got these from friends (I used the crab cactii from my friend Cristy that I planted in the Gardening is Gansta post) and from Etsy, which worked out way better than I expected since I had never bought living plants online, only seeds. The only thing is that the mason jar planters don't necessarily promote quick early growth, so the garden isn't quite as overgrown yet as I would like, but it's definitely on its way.

What I Used

Steps

1. Install the EKORRE hook in the ceiling. Or get your boyfriend to do it while you work on the other steps (thanks Paul :D). Because I do not want to be responsible for anyone ruining their ceiling or having some sort of dangerous hanging garden collapse, in the event you try this, make sure to follow the instructions and make sure you safely and properly install the hook into a beam and test its sturdiness. A single hook should be able to hold 100 kg (for my Americans, that's about 220 lbs). I hung on mine a few times to make sure it was secure.

2. Unpack and clean all of your BITTERGURKA baskets. Mine we're very gross and dusty. In addition, some of the hanging rods were not pre-drilled correctly so I (okay, really Paul - he's very helpful) had to go back to IKEA to exchange them. This was probably the biggest bump in the road on this project.

3. Assemble your baskets. For fun, use the world's smallest screw driver (as pictured).

3.a) TADA! Okay, one note: the hanging rod sometimes isn't a perfect fit and makes the basket a little wobbly. For me this was okay since it was still secure and the act of hanging meant these weren't going to be 100% perfect anyway.

4. Try hanging the first basket. Experience a sense of satisfaction! Because I am paranoid, I left the first basket with some empty mason jars in it for a few days to make sure there was no instability in the hook.

Then take a look at the bottom of the basket. It's time to hook the baskets together.

5. Use the hook of another basket, insert into the hole on the bottom of the first basket, parallel to the bar, rotate it 90 degrees, and then bring it down to rest on the bar. Hang all the baskets!

6. Plant the cuttings in the mason jars. I use the Hydropincs-Simplified Flora Mixng Chart for vegetative growth (3 parts FloraGro, 2 parts FloraMicro, and 1 part FloraBloom). I also was reading about root powders since the seller I got the cuttings from recommended using one for greatest success. While looking them up, I came across this blog post which lists a few natural alternatives to store-bought root powder. I decided to try cinammon and I have no idea if it helped since I didn't have a control group, but all of my cuttings did survive!

7. Once all the plants are prepped, place them in the hanging baskets and enjoy! This is what the garden looked like when I first planted it on May 8.

And this is what it looked like yesterday, enjoying the hottest day of the year!

Happy PRIDE month everyone!