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Make Your Garage a Gardening Oasis

Do you hate having to lay your green thumb to rest once the colder weather hits? Win this gardening thumb-war by creating your own oasis in the garage. You can cultivate seedlings all year with these clever set-ups.

Create an Indoor Grow Areablog1

Just because you don’t have a traditional greenhouse doesn’t mean you can’t convert your garage into one! With a few supplies, you can create a successful growing area in the safety of your garage. Growing areas like these are perfect for starting seedlings before spring planting, and continuing your garden during the colder months. Here is what you’ll need:

  • Full spectrum lights

There are a lot of “grow lights” and “full-spectrum” bulbs out on the market. However, beware of marketing schemes—a cool blue fluorescent might work just as well for your needs. Hang lights from ceiling by adjustable chains, pretty close to the tops of your plants. The number of lights you’ll need obviously depends on the number of plants you have. Try running them at night to take advantage of the cheaper electricity. If your garage gets a lot of sunlight through garage door windows or traditional windows, you might be able to lessen the number of required lights.

  • Heat supply

Turn up the heat (a little bit) with a space heater or solar lamps. Use this to keep the garage just above freezing, if needed. The more heat, the more light and water the plant needs. So keep it a little cooler—within the range of the plants—if you are short on light. Some plants, though, need heat to grow properly, such as peppers, tomatoes, and squash. The type of plant will determine the amount of heat.

  • Clear plastic sheets

These are optional, depending on what your growing goals are. If you are starting seedlings, plastic sheets are recommended. Sheeting can be useful in creating a mild greenhouse effect. Plastic will also probably reduce the need for additional heat, since it will catch the heat created by the lights. You may need to add fan to circulate the air a little more and keep an even temperature in the enclosure.

  •  Thermometerblog2

If you have to keep the temperature within a certain range, you should probably know what the temperature is in your garage!  A cheap thermometer from the garden supply store is perfect for the job.

Before you try to keep all your plants perky during winter, though, do some research. Make sure you know which plants should just be left to go semi-dormant, or be left to “overwinter”. These plants will take a little nap during the winter, then wake up when spring returns to resume growing. You may still need to put them in garage, though, so that the roots don’t freeze or rot (again, it depends on the plant).

Build a Hydroponic Garden

If you’re feeling extra ambitious, try building a hydroponic garden that you can keep in your garage year-round! Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in water, without soil. There are many varieties and levels of complexity when it comes to hydroponics, but a simple deep-water culture system works well. You can grow a variety of leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, leaf lettuce, oregano, basil, and mint.

Many tutorials can be found online, but here are the basic necessities for your own hydroponic garden:

  • Large plastic bin (holds 10+ gallons)
  • Sheet of 1-inch thick, buoyant, rigid plastic (such as polystyrene)
  • Rock wool
  • Air stone (find this at an aquarium supply store)
  • Plastic air tubing
  • Air pump
  • Seeds
  • Hydroponic nutrient concentrate

Cut the plastic to fit inside the container, then cut two or three rows of holes, with each hole 1 inch wide. Space the holes about 2 or 3 inches apart. Fill the container with water and nutrient concentrate (according to the manufacturer’s instructions). Set up air stone and tubing, setting the air pump in a dry, safe place. Ready the rock wool by forming 1-inch cubes. Soak the cubes in water and place a few seeds on the top of each. Place one cube in each hole, then float the entire sheet in the filled container.

Your garden should be topped with fluorescent lights, hung only 4 to 6 inches above the container. Turn on the lights for about 16 hours per day, raising the lights as the plants grow.

Whichever method you choose, you will now be able to keep that gardening urge satisfied the whole year through. Happy growing!

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