My indoor garden for under $100 with IKEA stuff

For those of us without garden space, having a functional growing space has no easy fix. Even a bright window cannot provide enough light for growing veggies and most plants. I’ve been looking at indoor growing solutions. Most of them are hydroponic/aeroponic and are prohibitively expensive. I didn’t want a crazy setup that took up an entire room, nor did I want to spend hundreds of dollars only to have to abandon the project for some reason. So here’s my kit:

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I’ve managed to put together something that’s at least somewhat attractive. Even though it’s not meant to be a decoration, I’m trying to give it a clean look since it’s in my office and I have to stare at it all day!

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IKEA Omar shelving unit: $29.99. This is a modular system and is easy to adjust (which you’ll have to do as your plants grow). It comes in a couple of different sizes but this one is about 3 feet long which will allow you to mount grow lights to it. You can stack two of these on top of each other for a more vertical solution.

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Fluorescent lighting: $29.00. Any type of light will work, but fluorescent is much cheaper than LED or some of the fancy grow lights that use a ton of electricity. You can use a twist tie or a strong rubber band to attach it beneath one of the upper shelves. Your plants need to be fairly close, but not touching, the lights so being able to adjust the height is a must. Inevitably, your plants will be different heights so an upside down bucket or some other container or box can level out the heights while they grow.

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Fluorescent bulbs: $9.99. The previous lighting fixture calls for two T8 bulbs. For vegetative growth, opt for something int eh 65000K range since that’s within the daylight spectrum. There is a ton of info out there about color temperature for indoor growing, but my plants seem to like these bulbs. I examined the “greenhouse and aquarium” bulbs at the hardware store and they appeared exactly the same as the daylight ones and were a fraction of the price.

Potting mix: about $6.00-$12.00 This is going to vary depending on the type of plants you have (as well as how many plants you have, the size of you plants, etc). There are a ton of options out there. Research the types of plants you have. For instance, thyme likes very well-drained loose soil, almost the consistency of gravel but mint and basil like something stronger and richer. Potting mix comes in a variety of sizes so you don’t have to get a giant bag meant for a huge outdoor garden. The only caveat is to be sure to get a mix that’s specific for containers since “garden soil” is usually meant to go in the ground. There are DIY mixes out there that gardeners swear by but that’s also a lot more work. We’re trying to keep this simple!

Containers: FREE! Your plants usually don’t care if they’re inside a fancy pot or a margarine container. As long as they have enough room and decent drainage, anything will work. Some plants like clay pots so the soil doesn’t stay moist, but most other plants will be great in a plastic container. For starting seeds, a yogurt cup or some of the smaller plastic containers you might find in your recycling bin will be enough to get the plants germinated and growing. Poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage and use a lid or tray underneath so you don’t make a mess.

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Optional: IKEA self-watering containers: $9.99-$19.99 I’ve researched some of the more popular container gardens (like Earthbox) and for me, these self-watering containers work very well with my plants. There are also DIY solutions but for the price, these containers save me the hassle of having to DIY and are very easy to assemble.

There are other odds and ends you might need but you can usually upcycle things around your home. Do you really need a watering can? Probably not, but it does make it easier. In the first photo, I used chopsticks and dental floss to keep my tomato seedling upright!

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