New purpose — Plant trays from inexpensive plastic shelving

OOur annuals, some of which are teenaged begonias and geraniums, bloom rapturously every summer since they began spending winters on trays which are shelves assembled UPSIDE DOWN to become water-holding storage. 

Modular plastic shelves are easy to clean, take apart for storage in the summer, and when assembled upside-down, hold water and/or pebbles which make excellent reservoirs and leaf catchers for plants that spend winter months in a sunny window.

You can water these plants from above, OR, add water to the trays and let the plants drink what they will from the bottom up. Most splashes and spills will be caught by the upside-down shelves.

Plant shelves 1For a garden-like effect, I often fill the trays with gravel first. Add water to the pebbles once a week and it will transpire into plant (and people) nourishing humidity.

You can find light-weight shelf systems in thrift shops or buy them very inexpensively in discount stores. They snap together without tools. The legs simply fit into the corners—square pegs, square holes. In the summer they snap apart and store away out of site.

This year my trays will also hold impatiens, petunias, calibrachoa, Alpine strawberries, rosemary, aloe ... It's a big family, but I made lots of extra room by giving the bushier plants a good trim. It's always a bit sad to cut away the lush flowers, but hopefully they will be back again when the Spring sun returns. Give them some fresh potting soil and a fresh pot if the time is right, and your annuals, like mine, will be with you for a long, long time.

Plant shelves 3Each year, before frost:
• I hose off my shelves outdoors before setting them up and dry with terry cloth. You can also give them a diluted bleach treatment, but make sure you rinse well afterwards and don't splash on fabrics.
• Assemble the shelves so that plants stand about 8-12 inches away from window glass.

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