An educating and practical way of growing herbs and small plants in your kitchen or beneath a shelf in any room.
If you would like to try to grow herbs or even a few cherry tomatoes at home all year round and don’t have anywhere to grow them outdoors you could try this nifty idea that I have created which I have put under my kitchen wall cupboards where I had some unused counter space.
Step 1: Things You Will Need
You will need a plant trough tray the length you require
An SJP Light®LED Plant Grow Strip Light Kit which you can get from Amazon or possibly some garden stockists or pet stores either 2,3,4,or 5 times the length of the tray. You can order it in lengths of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 metre lengths, but it can be cut in the places that the manufacturer recommends. Make sure you buy the adaptor and the connector along with it.
A length of polystyrene coving check that the back is similar to the one in the image above as it makes mounting it much easier than the rounded type.
You will also need:-
2 or 3 screws of about 1 inch
2 or 3 small washers to use with the screws
Needle and white thread
4 cup hooks
2 x 18 inch lengths of quite sturdy chain
A drill and a very small drill bit to drill pilot holes through the coving and into the supporting shelf or cupboard
A power point close to the wall cupboard or shelf
Seed trays, plant pots, some form of compost and some form of plant food.
The total costs for the unit I made was under £20 as opposed to buying a very small readymade unit for £40 - £100
LED Set £11.95 (This was for a 2 metre strip, 5 metres would be £15.95)
4 x Cup Hooks £2.00
I actually made mine a few days ago and I have already installed it so for these photographs I am just using a short length of coving to show you how you can construct it but you can have it as long as you want to.
Step 2: The Coving
Cut the coving to the length you want to fit under the shelf or wall cupboard. If you want to make the ends look a bit neater you can wrap a bit of white tape across the ends of the coving which I have not bothered with in this instructable.
Step 3: Measure the Sewing Distances
Measure the distance between the sections on the LED Strip so you know where you will be sewing eventually
Step 4: Marking Out
Mark out where you want to put the strips along the coving and mark out the same distances on the coving so you know where the LED sections will lie so that you don't cover the lights with the thread.
You can mount the LED strips along the very edge of the coving as well as in the concave section.
Work out where the screws and washers will be going in the centre of the concave section and take them out again while you continue the sewing.
Step 5: Assembly of the Unit
Stick the GROW LIGHT LED strip to the coving, (it comes with a peel away sticky back). Take into account where your power point is so it is in the correct place for the adaptor to go in. I would suggest at least two runs of the LED strips but you can use more of you want to, 3 strips would be ideal and give enough light for the plants to photosynthesise and fruit well. Basic garden herbs will grow with just one strip but if you plan to grow tomatoes then I suggest 2 or 4 strips but you can have as many as 5 if you want to. If you use an odd number of strips remember that you will have to put the screws in very close to the strip and possibly make some adjustments later.
Carefully sew the LED strip at short intervals avoiding the thread going over the LED lights themselves, (it is about every 2 inches). The reason I suggest sewing it as well as sticking it is so that it is more securely fixed to the coving so it will never come away.
In the photographs I have shown you the LED strips being sewn along the edge as well as in the concave section and there is also a picture of what it looks like behind the coving, it doesn't have to be too neat because this part will not show, Just make sure that the sewing is quite secure but not so tight that it cuts through the coving.
Step 6: Mounting the Unit
Hold the coving up to the place you want to mount it or stick it in place with masking tape.
Using a small drill bit drill through the coving into the bottom of the wall cupboard or shelf from underneath being careful not to actually go right through into the cupboard or out of the top of the shelf.
Mount the coving using the washers and screws so the washer is against the polystyrene to stop it breaking.
Measure 6 - 8 inches in from the end of the coving and drill 4 pilot holes for the hooks in the bottom of the cupboard. EDIT: INITIALLY I PUT THE CHAINS TOO CLOSE TO THE ENDS (4 inches in from the ends) WHICH MADE EVERYTHING SAG TOO MUCH. WHEN THE SEEDLINGS ARE SEPERATED I MIGHT HAVE TO ADD ANOTHER TWO HOOKS AND ANOTHER 18 INCH LENGTH OF CHAIN FOR MORE SUPPORT
Hang the chains from the hooks at the front and the back, forming a U shape.
Slide the tray into place beneath the coving hanging them on the chains.
EDIT: IT MIGHT BE AN IDEA TO PUT A STRIP OF WOOD UNDER THE TRAY AS I HAVE FOUND WITH ALL THE POTS I HAVE PUT ON IT THAT IT IS SAGGING SLIGHTLY
I suggest hanging the tray as close to the lights as possible taking into account the height of your plant pots if you are growing from seed leave a 2 inch gap and as the plants grow adjust the tray using the chains about 2 inches above the height of the plants. Growing from seed is a lot more fun and it is something that you can include with your children to have a small project to help them appreciate the challenges and length of time things take to grow and by using chains you can drop the plants lower as they grow.
You will need to have the lights on for 14 – 18 hours a day so buying a timer for this is optional and bear this in mind if you are mounting it under shelf in your child’s room.
Ideal herbs to grow are Parsley, Chives, or Basil, and ideal tomato varieties to grow are Gartenperle, Red Robin or Tiny Tim as these don’t grow too tall, of course there are other herbs that you can grow as long as they aren't plants that grow too tall.
Some seeds might need a bit of extra warmth for them to germinate so having them in an airing cupboard for the first few days might be beneficial before you move them to the shelf under the unit.
You could mount the LED strips directly to the shelf or cupboard bottom if you prefer to but using the coving makes it possible to sew it securely as opposed to just using it’s own sticky back which may come away after a while.
With my LED strip I just looped it round but if you choose to cut the strips and have them mounted separately you would have to run them from the adaptor in series so you might need to have a soldering iron handy to attach the power cables to each one. Just read the instructions as to where you can but them from the manufacturer, the ones I bough can be cur every three lights at the section where the thread happens to go.
The LED strip I have used in the photographs is not a proper GROW LIGHT ones as they are normal LED lights but having installed my grow lights in place already I just though these would do to show you how it all fits together. With LED strips you can run up to 5 metres per adaptor so bear that in mind. Proper GROW LIGHTS give out light at various wavelengths of light and give off a purplish glow so the first picture in this section I have used a flash to show my tiny plants better.
I hope that some of you get to make this little unit because it gives you fresh herbs and some types of tomatoes all year round (even if mine have not grown yet) and I think it is great if you live in a fl;at and have nowhere else to grow this sort of thing.
I am not an expert on plants so you will have to do a bit of research yourselves on the subject, I just though I would make this for myself as I live in a flat that has nowhere large enough to grow plants for the kitchen but if you have any questions about the unit itself please feel free to ask and I will try to help you.