A Little Slice of Summer

Yesterday’s balmy temperatures and rain moved through and left behind what I can only describe as pure dreck. You might convince us that the sun never even rose, for a feeling of late dusk prevailed the entire day. A steady breeze blew damp air. The ground squished softly underfoot. I ventured out into the garden to do some final autumn cleanup, but didn’t even last an hour before it began to feel like an oppressive chore. I can’t remember a day when working in my garden has had such a depressing effect on my mood.

After a short nap didn’t cure these late November blahs, I decided to go commune with the plants I’m overwintering in our guess bedroom/winter greenhouse. Earlier this fall, I installed track shelving along one wall of our guest room so that I’d have plenty of room to grow my coleus cuttings and overwinter some of the tender tropical plants from the summer garden. With the addition of shop lights, full-spectrum bulbs and a timer, my “greenhouse” was installed in about two hours for about $200 in materials.

The nice thing about the track shelving is that it is nearly all removable (with the exception of the hanging track that is attached to the wall studs along the top of the wall). During the warm months, the whole thing can be taken down in a matter of minutes if we have guests and want to make the room look less like a greenhouse. Although, I suspect many of our friends wouldn’t mind sharing a room with plants.

Nearly all of the shelf space this year is taken up by the coleus I’m overwintering. In each of ten flat trays, 15 coleus grow in plastic cups. I water the coleus from the bottom, flooding the flat trays with about 3/4 inch of water every week to 10 days. The coleus take up the water through the three holes punched in the bottom of each cup.

Simply spending a few minutes upstairs, seeing the vibrant colors of the plants and brightness of the plant lights, made a huge difference in my outlook. We hope someday to build a conservatory on the back of our house. Until the day when we have such a luxury, I’ll count my blessings that we have the room and resources to have a little slice of summer in this small corner of our home.

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