IKEA HACK: IVAR Nursery Complete


IVAR plant nursery

IVAR plant nursery with both greenhouses and plant lights

Got the lights and the second greenhouse today and voilà there it is. The bulbs give off a pinkish light which is rather disturbing, because I don’t like pink, but I guess I have to make sacrifices for the little plants.

EDIT: It’s online on ikeahackers.net!

Plant Nursery: IKEA Hack

I had decided to go for the IKEA hack after all, because I figured that it would leave me with less work – although I love DIY – and would cost me less. I’ve added my idea to the ikeahackers website, but it might take a while to get accepted, so I’m gonna describe it here as well.

IKEA hack: Plant Nursery made of IVAR

I used some parts from IKEA and some from a hardware store. Some of the hardware store things could be replaced by IKEA products.

IKEA hardware store
  • 2 x IVAR Side unit 124×30
  • 3-4x IVAR Shelf 42×30
  • 1x OBSERVATÖR Cross-brace
  • wood preservative
  • 2x lamp holder
  • plywood 15.5cmx56cm
  • extension cable
  • (4x castor roller)
  • 2x light bulbs for plants (actually
    ordered on amazon, but I think
    they’re available in a hardware store

The castor rollers are optional. However, I’ll place the nursery in front of my balcony door (indoors) and in case I wanna use the balcony in winter (for refilling the bird house, for example), I can easily push it aside.

If you wanna build it as well, you’ll also need:

  • hole saw (for the lamp holder)
  • saw
  • fret saw
  • sand paper
  • screwdriver (plus a small one for the lustre terminal)
  • drill
  • wood glue
  • screws
  • Stanley knife
  • paintbrush
  • wood for the lamp holder thingy

As you can see on the pictures, I left some parts unstained. These are the parts that hold the lights in winter. When I put the plant nursery on my balcony during summer time, I won’t need the electric lights and will take off the unstained parts.

Hidden Lustre Terminal

Hidden Lustre Terminal

I cut the socket part off the extension cable and connected the two lamp holder cables with it with a lustre terminal. That didn’t look so nice and also seemed a bit dangerous, in case my little nephew comes to visit, so I hid that in an old film can, just cut a hole in the bottom and one in the lid.

The plywood was used for the Japanese style gable. I had planned on having one on either side, but that sawing was way too exhausting. So, one will have to do.

I’ve only put that one mini greenhouse in for the photo, the other one is on its way to me, as are the light bulbs. There is a very nice IKEA hack for mini greenhouses, though. If I need more greenhouses in the future, I might try that. Although mine have little openings in the lid for ventilation…

Bonsai Nursery For My Balcony (only a plan so far)


Bonsai Nursery Idea

Bonsai Nursery Idea (made in Google SketchUp)

This is what I would like to build for my balcony to house the seedlings. I could actually build it now and place it indoors in front of the balcony door…
However, neither having a car nor even a driving license, getting the material home is quite difficult, especially the larger parts and the paint.

I enjoy making such plans so much! Lets hope I can realize it…

Or maybe I’ll make an IKEA hack. Use IVAR shelves…

IKEA hack plant nursery

IKEA hack plant nursery

DIY: Makeshift Greenhouse


Simple: Just a jar turned upside down

Simple: Just a jar turned upside down

An idea to house a single small plant. Just use a cleaned jar turned upside down. If you don’t want to buy a small greenhouse, you can upcycle some jars. Provided you have really small pots or large jars. You could glue or screw the lid to a larger piece of wood and have an array of jar-greenhouses. Might also be a nice DIY idea for children.

Growing Medlar from Seeds II

Still doing research on how to grow medlar from seeds, I came across an old German book on GoogleBooks called Abhandlung von Bäumen, Stauden und Sträuchern, welche in Frankreich in freyer Luft erzogen werden (= Treatise About Trees, Shrubs and Bushes which have been grown outdoors in France) from 1763. This was translated from a book by a Monsieur Duhamel du Monceau. If anyone prefers the French version…

Screenshot from GoogleBooks

Screenshot from GoogleBooks

As all the message boards and Wikipedia articles seem to quote each other, I thought it a good idea to bring a new source into the discussion, especially one from a time when medlars where much better known than today. I will try and translate it from the German.

First, he names 22 types of Medlars (Mespilus spinosa, Mespilus silvestris etc.). He writes “Mespilus germanicus […] sive Mespilus silvestris”, so this is the same for him.


All types of Mespilus can be grown from seeds. Those which grow in the woods can be grown into plants which are then transferred nursery. If one wants to sow medlar trees, one has to know that the seeds often germinate only in the second year. Therefore, some people put the ripe fruits into pots or boxes filled with soil in autumn, put those in a cool place or outdoors. Or they dig the pots two or three shoes deep into the soil, let them rest there for a year and only take them out in spring the next year, to sow them on patches, where the seeds germinate quickly.

We have found that when one takes the ripe fruits in September and puts them in layers with soil and sows them in sherds [???, maybe clay pots] and puts those into the dung patch, the seeds will germinate in the first spring already, which is quite useful in a species that rare.

One can also breed the mespilus by cuttings and the rarer types by grafting onto more common types.

All types of Mespilus are tolerate just about any type of soil except very dry soil in which they wither.

He then goes on to recommend planting them under oak and chestnut trees, because the taller trees profit from the medlar covering the ground. That might be interesting for fans of permaculture.

Growing Medlars from Seeds

As I have written in my Bonsai Wishlist, medlar (Mespilus germanicus) is one of the species I want to grow as a bonsai tree. I had brought two seeds back from Turkey, but now that I have done some research I realized that I might have done it all wrong. Their seeds seem to need cold stratification. However, I had already sown those Turkish seeds and put into the mini greenhouse. I found the information that they might only germinate after two winters, so I will leave those in the soil and just wait. Having brought them from Turkey, they’re too precious for me to dump them.

Where to get Medlar Seeds

As you will be able to read on many websites, medlar trees have been more common until and including the Victorian Age. They can be found in the Mediterranean, though. But what if you want to grow them from seed and you neither live there nor do you go there regularly? Well, two possibilities: Either you are very lucky and there despite medlar trees not being well known anympre, there is one or even more near you. That’s how lucky I am, as I found out on this great (German) website Mundraub. I went there on my bike and got some.  There was only one fresh looking medlar in one of the trees, two dried ones still in the tree and I found one which had fallen to the ground and started to rot. Gross, but helpful.

Medlar Tree

One Lonely Medlar

medlar tree

the other medlar tree

The other possibility is to buy them, obviously. I found some medlar seeds on Ebay, but there are also other possibilities to buy them online. If you want to buy medlar fruits instead, you might find them at larger supermarkets in autumn. I read that Turkish greengrocers have them sometimes. You might also try your local farmers’ market.



How to Grow Medlars from Seeds

First of all, at this point I can only repeat what I have read so far, as I have only started with medlar seeds. Several sources I read said that medlar seeds have a very strong coat and therefore need cold stratification (1-5°C). However, some sources say 12 month, some say only 3-4 month. Some say not at all. First you need to soak them in lukewarm water for 24-48 hours . Other websites add a warm stratification period of 8-9 month after the cold stratification, followed by another cold stratification of 3 month. These tips are all for dried seeds, I think. If you can get fresh seeds from a fruit directly from a tree, when the coat has not had the time to harden properly yet, it might work quicker.

I read in several German message boards that no stratification is necessary when you use seeds directly from fruits. I’m gonna go for that option, just soak the seeds for two days and sow them directly. The germination period of medlar seeds is 4-7 weeks, it said in one of the message boards. We will see…

Window Sill Expansion

DIY Window Sill Expansion

DIY Window Sill Expansion

I have been busy today to build this wooden expansion for my window sill. I used only wood I had left over from previous projects and it is only stable as long as it is fitted neatly into that window.

You can also see my LEGO® construction for the Raspberry Pi which I use to take pictures of the first lemon tree every hour. I’ve planned on taking 600 pictures, which is 25 days. The plant itself is hidden behind a wall of white LEGO® bricks, so the sun can reflect back on it. Not that there is much sun these days…That’s why I added the lamp, which is connected to a timer to extend the day for a few hours. Just an ordinary lamp from IKEA (LAGRA), not a special plant light.

Mini-Terrarium for Plants

Some weeks ago, I came across this blog post about how to make a mini terrarium. It seemed like a cute idea. So, when I realized that I was one Christmas present short, I decided to try it.
This is the result:

What you need:
  • jar with lid
  • gravel (aquarium supply)
  • activated coal (aquarium supply or maybe you can crush some charcoal)
  • soil
  • plant (mini cactus or moss will do)
  • water
I used a much smaller jar than in the example given in the other blog. It was also a bit more complicated to fill it, because the jar is narrower at the top, but I liked the general form of the jar.
I followed the instruction mainly, maybe used a bit too much gravel. However, instead of moss, I got a little plant to put inside. I don’t know what it is called, though, some kind of succulent, I think.
I have lots of material left over, mainly gravel, which I only got in a 5 kg sack and needed less than a hand full. Maybe more people will get this Christmas present form me this year. On the other hand, I think gravel can also be used for bonsai.