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Mobile Gardening: Growing Plants While Living in an RV

Herbs

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Don’t let small living keep you from having a garden!  Here are some ideas for raising plants that can travel with you.

Soil-free gardening

Some states regulate the transportation of plants and require that you declare any plants you bring across their borders to prevent plant pests and diseases from being spread to the state.  For example, California’s rules are particularly strict.  Additionally, if you travel between the U.S. and Canada, you will need to declare any plants you bring into each country and potentially pay to have the soil inspected and declared free of pests.

Although you may still be subject to border control scrutiny, you can avoid the risk of soil contamination altogether by growing plants hydroponically.

AeroGarden hydroponic planters include built-in grow lights and come in a variety of colors and sizes.

Miracle-Gro AeroGarden Harvest (LCD Control Panel) with Gourmet Herb Seed Pod Kit

by AeroGarden via Amazon.com

The Sprigli and Modern Sprout systems are designed specifically for hydroponic herb growing.

Modern Sprout

Modern Sprout via Amazon.com

You could even try making something similar yourself, as shown in this tutorial.  To keep jars from falling over while your RV is moving, maybe a shelf with holes like this one for sale on Etsy could be mounted somewhere secure.

Container Gardens

If you travel in climates where the temperatures stay above freezing and are not frequently traveling between states with strict plant transportation rules, you can easily grow plants outdoors in containers, like the RV owner who brings this thriving herb garden with her wherever she goes and sets it outside in a sunny spot outdoors at each location.  Small pots or planters can be stored in a truck bed or in the shower during transport.  Self-watering containers are a good choice for transporting with less mess.

by Carolyn Allemand

Growing Indoors

For RV owners who want or need to keep their plants indoors, a shelf like this one can provide a place to set plants next to a sunny window where they can get plenty of natural light.  This shelf was made from a 1″x6″ piece of lumber painted and mounted using drywall anchors and shelf brackets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A similar garden shelf, with the added great idea of using ribbon to keep mason jars from sliding off during travel:

by Jona Gottlieb

A suction cup shelf is an option that wouldn’t require drilling holes in the wall and would allow plants to be moved to a different window depending on the direction of the sun.  If you’re skeptical that it will hold, you can even add extra support.

You could also accomplish the same thing with a planter that sticks directly to the window.

A shower with a skylight is an excellent place to grow some types of plants.  In this RV, a shower caddy hung with these Command hooks is used as a planter.

In a motorhome, the dashboard makes a wonderful sunny place to set plants while the vehicle is parked.  You can see more pictures of this dashboard display on the owner’s blog.

by Stephanie via rvthereyet.org

If you’re finding it hard to provide indoor plants with a spot next to a window, you might supplement natural light with a small LED grow light, or stick to growing herbs, vegetables, and houseplants that don’t require as much light.  You can find a list of vegetables that will grow in partial shade here and here, and this article suggests some easy-to-care-for houseplants that are ideal for low light conditions.

Growing Vegetables

Perhaps one of these ideas can help solve the problems of weight and ease of transportation RV owners face when trying to grow larger quantities of plants or vegetables while moving from place to place.

A styrofoam ice chest (preferably up-cycled!) can be converted into a cheap and lightweight self-watering planter using this DIY method.  (Wondering if polystyrene is safe to grow food in? Read one perspective here.)

by Roman & Jana via spurtopia.com

The wheels on this self-watering planter might make it more convenient to transport.

For RV owners who are very serious about growing their own food, a Garden Tower on wheels might be a good option.  As an added bonus, it has a built-in system for composting food waste which provides direct nutrients to the plants.

Here’s one RV owner’s mobile gardening idea:

If the idea seems messy or if you’re wondering if you would have to keep the door open all the time, maybe a shoe organizer herb garden could be hung on the outside of the RV and moved to the shower during transportation?

Note: Many cheap shoe organizers are made with backing of that type of non-woven fabric reusable shopping bags are made from, which can break down over a summer of exposure to sunlight and water.  Here’s a shoe organizer made entirely of PVC plastic that might be more ideal for filling with wet soil if some drainage holes were poked in the bottom of each pocket.

Traveling Herb Gardens

Perhaps the most ambitious of mobile gardeners, one couple grows food in this planter on the back of their RV.  Read about their experience here.

by Russ and Tiña via rvtravel.com

Although it doesn’t sound like this trailer travels much, the idea of pots set inside shelves mounted on the back of a camper might provide inspiration for other RV gardens:

Do you grow plants in (or on!) your RV?  We would love to see a photo of your mobile garden in the comment section!


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