Indoor Planter Stand

I have had this indoor planting stand for a while now. I have been trying my hand at growing things. I have been failing miserably. If I was to follow that old addage where you need to keep a houseplant for a year before you can consider keeping a person for a year, I can marry just the good, strong bits of Katie. The rest will suffer for lack of attention.

indoor container garden plant stand

Here is the lighting as I have had it. I have been using those cheap, $10 strip growlights from Walmart. I am having a terrible time with them, the bulbs only seem to last 2-3 months. They just keep burning out. I have ran 4-5 bulbs through this planter now since I set it up. It’s in a north window, so I am just augmenting the light, not really planning on providing all the needed light.

I am not sure if that is working. the plants don’t seem to be growing all that fast.

undercounter florescent light as a plant stand light

So, this weekend, I bit the bullet, and bought me a decent light fixture. Two 17 watt T8 bulbs in a 2 foot fixture. It’s $20 for the fixture, and $7 something x 2 for the bullbs. Not cheap, but I am looking at it for the long term investment. It’s designed to be hard-wired as a under-counter light or something.

Yeah, I want it on an extension cord. It says right on the inside of the light to wire the fixture OUTSIDE of the fixture. UH HUH, sorry, can’t do that. I gotta wire it up inside the fixture if I am to put a cord on it.

funky little nut designed for wood being used on the metal shelf

Hanging it was a bit of a challenge. The other lights are just zip-tied to the shelf. This light is too big and heavy. I dug around and found these nuts that I had picked up for my PakYak. They have a little hook on them to dig into wood. Well, this hook fits over the metal shelf quite well. Add a few washers underneith, and I can snug the light up almost tight to the shelf without having anything prodruding far into the shelf above.

I am thinking of putting a plexi cover over the fixture to keep any leaking water from watering the plants out of the top of the light fixture. So when I add that element, I will need to re-think the hanging of the light fixture.

Plant stand with handmade jute net to keep the cat out of the plants

Here is the finished light. The new light is the 2nd one down. You can see how much brighter the two 17 watt T8 bulbs are in relation to the single 20 watt T12 bulb. I am hoping that the bulbs last longer too. Part of the reason I am posting this, so I can look back at when I installed the lights.

I have noticed that my Stevia plant has grown more in the last couple of days since I added the light then it has in the month or so prior. I guess they just needed a bit more light, even it is a soft white light and not a growlight.

Replanting my planted tank

I did a lot of research yesterday, looking at getting new plants for my aquarium. I ripped most everything up after Thanksgiving. I gave the 2 best looking swords to a guy from work – one of which was the original stem I bought 3 years ago. I am back down to 3 of them. Anybody want a Amazon Sword plant or two? I just want one. I tossed 95% of the Pennywort. Well, actually I pulled it ALL out, and left whatever little pieces where still in the tank. Well, some of those are now over a foot long again. I am kinda leery about leaving this in the tank as it grows so well. It is the bulk of what caused my tank to turn into a swamp (besides my neglect of course).

I am wanting to make my tank look “nice”, you know them pretty tanks, with all the fancy plants and what not. This tank has always been very green, what with 9 full Amazon Sword plants. I rather liked that look, but I am going to try something different. I am cordoning off the Amazons so they stay on their half of the tank. I am keeping the one for when I set my 110 gallon tank up again.

I am thinking, with me leaving on Thursday, I will have a few days to make sure the plants take, and then I will be hands off for 2 weeks, and see what they look like when I come back. I won’t micromanage them to death this way.

I went to Big Al’s today. I bought 3 types of plants for $12. I got 2 bunches of Glossostigma, 1 bunch of Microsword, and 1 bunch of Narrowleaf Ludwigia.

Glossostigma (Glossostigma elatinoides)– From what I have read, this plant likes a PH of mid to high 6, soft water, and LOTS of light. It appears to come from Australia. It appears to have hit the US markets in 1996 or 1997. It can grow into a tight turf, but seems to need some coaxing first. If it doesn’t “take”, it will die off from the bottom up, like the roots just rot away. It will also tend to grow straight up, however putting pebbles on it to try to get it to lay down will eventually get it to grow horizontally.

I had tried this plant before, maybe six months ago, but the bunch I had gotten the roots where already rotting away. It also didn’t get much light as the swords where shading it out.

Microsword (Lillaeopsis ???) – This plant seems to be one of a couple of species, but most likely from Brazil. This plant looks like it likes harder water then the Glossostigma does. The brighter the light, the shorter it grows it looks like.

This one is new to me. I picked it because it seems a lot of people have luck with either this or the Glosso. Between the two, I should get a good ground cover on my tank.

Narrowleaf Ludwigia (Ludwigia arcuata?) – Another bright light lover. This one will get taller, about 15 inches it looks like.

I picked this because I seemed to recall that it liked bright light. I also liked the red color, I think it will play well with the other plants. It is a stem plant, but the leaves are smaller and thinner, kinda reminiscent of the other plants in the tank.

I took some photos of me ripping the tank apart and replanting it.

Here is the tank before I started replanting it. notice where the 3 Amazon Swords are and the Pennywort starting to fill in again.

Look at how much muck I kicked up while moving 2 of the Amazon Swords closer to the left of the tank. You can tell this tank is 3 years old. I had done 50% water changes sucking up all the mulm with my Python siphon. I was trying to go in and get at it deep down. My rocks are over 4 inches deep. I was worried about the deep parts getting really bad and killing off the rest of the tank. The one amazon sword had enough root to completely fill a mason jar. That is a LOT of roots!

This is the clump of pennywort that I missed last week. I clumped it together and weighted it down with some lead plant weights. Lets see how long they stay put.

This is the Microsword clump I got. Nice, clean roots. You can see how tight they will grow in once they get going.

I worried the whole knotted mess apart into individual pieces. If you are patient, and work from the roots and not the plants, it’s pretty easy. You can pull the leaves down, through the roots easily, you can’t pull the roots up, through the other roots.

You can see I planted the Microsword in the back right third of the tank. I didn’t put it too close to the driftwood, as it starts to get shady there. I took each piece and whorled it together and planted it as a clump. They are spaced about as close together as I can get them without pushing the prior one out. I have a few stray pieces in the front left, just for fun. I half expect the Amazon Swords to shade them out before they get started.

This is one of the two Glossostigma clumps. The roots on this one are much more developed then with the other clump. I am thinking this one is starting to rot back. We shall see.

Here the other bunch of Glossostigma is broken apart. I planted each piece (or 2 smaller pieces) individually.

Here is the results of nearly 3 hours of planting and moving, and whatnot. The water is still a little hazy.

I am hoping that the Glosso and Microsword fill in nicely. I am going to move the driftwood somewhere else once I get rid of 2 of the Amazon sword plants. I have the Narrowleaf Ludwigia in the back right, about 1/3 of the way from the edge of the tank. I think it will fill in nicely and balance the heights of the tank out. The tank is a little lopsided looking right now with all that Amazon Sword on the one end.

Check back the first weekend of the new year and see how it looks.

My Planted Aquarium

Please forgive me that this post is reading backwards. I am still trying to figure out all these new-fangled tools. A few friends of mine have been buying plants for their tanks, and I thought I would toss in my 2 cents worth. I have had a planted tank for about 3 years now maybe? It is a 29 gallon tank that I had traded a 20 gallon tank for. The 29 had split a seem, and I knew I could fix it.

I did a lot of research on aquaculter when I set my newly repaired tank up. I have about 4 inches of substrate at the bottom of the tank. I know this is about 2 times what people suggest, but, hey, I got the 2 different sizes of rock on sale when I got the bigger bags. I mixed the 40 pounds of rock with a clay product called Laterite (sp?). The Laterite gives the plant roots something to cozy up to besides all that cold, hard rock. Actually, it provides the roots with a steady source of chiliated iron, which makes for healthy plants.

I am also doing something new (for me) with the tank. I am treating the tank with a “black water” additive. I happen to really like the nice, warm feeling of my “dirty” tea colored water. It probably has something to do with working on the St. Croix River for many years. I am just fond of nice, clean, brown water. I think the fish look better in it. I think the plants grow better in it. I think YOUR planted tank looks so…. Hospital Waiting Room, with it’s crystal clear water. Oh, speaking of crystal clear planted tank water, you don’t want to charcoal filter your planted tank. This removes all the nutrients and such that your plants need to stay healthy.

The proof is in the pudding as they say. Here you can see the Amazon sword plant that I bought over 2 years ago (I think it now numbers 7 or 8). I have to trim back the plant every month or so or it completely dominates the tank. I have recently moved to a new place, and heavily pruned the plant back. I had taken the plant out and devided it. I then put all my new, little plants in a bucket. I moved the tank and left the bucket at the old place. The plants where NOT happy about spending 3 days in the bucket hotel. They died back about 50% after I got them into their new home. Another heavy pruning, a little TLC, and my CO2 injecting system has them in good health after a few months.Posted by Picasa