Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Ultimate Seeding Table

For today’s post, I thought I would share my latest project: the ultimate (for me anyway) growing/seeding table!
Front view
For some time I’ve been toying with the idea of a all-encompassing grow table for seedlings, winter herbs, and the citrus trees when they come in for the winter. Of course, my preference would be to put the citrus trees in a nice south-facing window, but in our current apartment we are in a bit of a predicament when it comes to that. We have many windows (and it is nice and airy and bright in here) but the vast majority of them face north, west, or east. The only south facing windows we have are in the kitchen, bedroom, and one small window in the current growing room.
Side view
So I needed a table that could accommodate not just seedlings, but also large plants, cuttings, and other over-wintered plants. It also needed to be somewhat tall so that I could store things underneath it, and it also needed a strong shelf above for additional storage. My thought was to take the table’s footprint and essentially triple dip: storage underneath, the table surface with adjustable lights, and a nice strong shelf for storage above.
Corner view

Here’s what I came up with. The footprint of the table is 55x50, so it’s large. I purposely over-built it, because I also home brew and all of my empty glass bottles are stored on the top shelf, so it needed to be quite strong. I wanted to have around 30 inches of space under the table for storage so that we could store large items underneath and out of sight. The table height is also a comfortable height for access.

Since we live in an apartment and have moved several times, I also wanted to make it both future proof and easy to disassemble and reassemble. By “future proof” I mean that it would be designed to fit in a place with a lower ceiling and that it would fit nicely in a corner. Right now we are lucky to live in a place with pretty high ceilings, but that hasn’t always been the case. The lowest ceiling height we ever had was 7.5 ft, which is 90 inches. That’s how I arrived at the self height of 70 inches. That would allow 20 inches of clearance for the empty bottles even in that scenario, which is plenty. To make it easy to take apart and reassemble I put block underneath each rail so that they could be set in place, clamped, and then attached quickly and easily.

Don't can trust me...
Here’s another consideration: I wanted to cat-proof it. As anyone with cats knows, you’re more making something cat resistant than cat-proof! Our two cats seem to share in my love for the garden, although their way of showing it involves chewing on and/or stepping on the seedlings. To accomplish this I toyed with many different ideas, but there was always a double-edged sword involved: anything that made it harder for the cats to get onto the table would also make it harder for me to access the table. I wanted to do just enough to stop them from getting on the table and still allow for ease of access when I watered or checked on the plants.  

Table with panels installed (the screen is hard to see)
Since we had some old scraps of screen left over I decided to construct 2 removable screen panels that would block the sides that were open to the room (the other two are against walls in the corner of the room).
So far, it has worked well. Of course, it is physically possible for the cats to jump from their nearby cat tree over the panels, but I think the panels are just high enough that they don’t feel secure doing that. The table has been up for about 6 weeks now and so far they have never been able to get on it (and every time I water the plants they go crazy and try to find ways up).  I would have made the panels higher, but the screen scraps were only a certain height, and I was afraid of having a seam that the cats could either get through or get stuck in somehow.
The panels hook in place at each end for easy and quick removal
Today it is -7 outside, so I am going to start some seeds! I’m behind (calendar-wise) where I wanted to be, especially for the eggplants and peppers. However, look for a post this week about my experiment in getting peppers to germinate faster! I began this experiment last week on 6 types of peppers, and this afternoon (about 5 days later) it looks like I will be able to plant all 6 types of seeds as they all have small taproots!

Until next time, happy gardening!

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