I was really excited to invite Leslie on the show because she has just published a book called “Tiny Plants: Discover the Joys of Growing and Collecting Itty Bitty Houseplants” and I just knew I had to have her on to talk about plants that you can bring with you into your tiny house lifestyle. I had no idea that this was even a thing so I'm really excited to share this conversation! Leslie is a super outgoing and knowledgeable guest and she actually brought plants for show and tell. Members of Tiny House Engage were able to actually watch out interview streamed live, but she did send me some photographs of the plants we talked about.
In This Episode:
- The difference between tiny plants and plants that are kept small
- Where does one find tiny plants?
- What if you don't have a surface to put a potted plant on?
- Creative DIY and repurposed vessels
- The best plants for people on the move
- Disturbing trends and how to find ethically sourced plants
- Tiny edible plants you can grow in a small space
- Sustainably support your plant habit with plant swaps
Links and Resources:
- Humans Growing Stuff podcast
- Plant Parenting
- Gardening Under Lights
- Tiny Plants
Leslie Halleck is a Certified Professional Horticulturist who has spent her nearly-thirty-year career hybridizing horticulture science with home gardening and houseplant enthusiast needs. Leslie runs her own company, Halleck Horticultural, is a UCLA Extension Horticulture Instructor, and the author of several books including “Gardening Under Lights”, “Plant Parenting”, and her latest release “Tiny Plants”. Most importantly, she's a big plant geek!
This Week's Sponsor:
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Tiny House Decisions is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. And it comes in three different packages to help you on your unique tiny house journey. If you're struggling to figure out the systems for your tiny house, how you're going to heat it, how you're going to plumb it, what you're going to build it out, then tiny house decisions will take you through the process systematically and help you come up with a design that works for you. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions for podcast listeners. Head over to https://www.thetinyhouse.net/thd and use the coupon code tiny at checkout!
Begonia Peridot next to tomato for reference
Bladderwort in a teacup
Creeping Button Fern… next to some buttons
Haworthia Angustifolia is a great choice for mobile tiny homes
Sinningia in a handmade pot
Moss in a tiny terrarium
Peperomia prostrata is too cute in its handmade pot
Peperomia quadranglularis is living happily in a little glass mushroom
Recycled produce containers are great for starting seeds!
Leslie Halleck 0:00
Even if they aren't living in a tiny house, right, a lot of people got forced to live tiny in general, you know, all across the world. And there was a desire, I think, for so many people to have some nature indoors.
Ethan Waldman 0:17
Welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast, the show where you learn how to plan, build and live the tiny lifestyle. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman, and this is episode 166 with Leslie Halleck, I was really excited to invite Leslie on the show, because she has just published a book called Tiny Plants: Discover the Joys of Growing and Collecting Itty Bitty Houseplants. And I just knew I had to have her on to talk about plants that you can bring with you into your tiny house lifestyle. I had no idea that this was even a thing. So I'm really excited to share this conversation. Leslie is a super outgoing and knowledgeable guest. And she actually brought plants for show and tell. And so members of Tiny House Engage were able to actually watch our interview stream live. But she has also sent me some photos of the plants that we talked about in this episode. So if you want a visual on the things that we covered, you can check out the show notes for this episode, which is going to be thetinyhouse.net/166. I hope you stick around.
I want to tell you about something that I think will be super helpful as you plan, design and build your tiny house. Tiny House Decisions is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. It comes in three different packages to help you on your unique tiny house journey. And if you're struggling to just figure out the systems for your tiny house, you know like how you're going to heat it, how you're going to plumb it. You know, what construction technique Are you going to use like SIPs or stick framing or steel framing, Tiny House Decisions will take you through all these processes systematically and help you come up with a design that works for you. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions for listeners of the show, you can head over to thetinyhouse.net/THD To learn more, and use the coupon code tiny at checkout for 20% off any package. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/THD and use the coupon code tiny for 20% off.
Right I am here with Leslie Halleck. Leslie is a Certified Professional Horticulturist, who has spent her nearly 30 year career hybridizing horticulture science with home gardening and houseplant enthusiast needs. Leslie runs her own company Halleck Horticultural and is a UCLA extension horticulture instructor and the author of several books including Gardening Under Lights, Plant Parenting, and her latest release Tiny Plants. Most importantly, she's a big plant geek. Leslie Halleck, welcome to the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
Leslie Halleck 3:11
Hey, thanks for having me. I'm so excited to talk tiny!
Ethan Waldman 3:14
Yeah, me too. Me too. I you know, anytime I see somebody who's like writing or talking about something tiny, especially if it's something that could go in a tiny house, I'm like, I gotta gotta have them on the show.
Leslie Halleck 3:26
Yeah, I was just gonna say I don't think anything is sort of a better companion than sort of tiny living tiny houses and tiny plants. It really is kind of the perfect combination. So I'm glad we found one another.
Ethan Waldman 3:37
Me too. Me too. So I wasn't To be honest, I was not aware that tiny plants were even a phenomenon. until somebody approached me about doing an interview for another podcast that is about plant or that Yeah, Humans Growing Stuff, a podcast that's about plants to talk about tiny plants. And I ended up roping in my brother who works for a nursery in Portland. But anyhow, you were on the same show. And I that was the first I had really heard of tiny plants. So can you tell me about like, the background of the tiny plants phenomenon?
Leslie Halleck 4:16
Well, I mean, I think in terms of a trend or a phenomenon, I'll take a little bit of responsibility for directly pushing that on everyone. Because I was personally I have a penchant for petite plants. And an affinity for alliteration. Oh, my friend, but I, I will Yes, I do. I do tend to push it I have an origin story. If you if you get a copy of my new book, tiny plants, I preface the book with sort of the origin story of how I came to become obsessed with itty bitty plant species. And I and I want to be clear that in this book, and in terms of what I'm talking about, when I talk to any plans, I'm not talking About artificially managed plant species, right like us through human intervention, keeping them small, I'm talking about genetically natural, itty bitty tiny plant species that that coexist with much larger plant species out in the natural environment. And just like we do with traditional tropical houseplants, there are all sorts of add tiny species that one can cultivate indoors, just on a much, much smaller scale, but they're often overlooked. And I think, when the pandemic hit, and everybody was sort of forced inside, confined in small spaces, you know, even if they aren't living in a tiny house, right, a lot of people got forced to live tiny, in general, you know, all across the world. And there was a desire, I think, for so many people to have some nature indoors, and hence, a new cycle of house plant. craziness, yeah, has ensued, you know, those cycles come and go, and we're in another one right now. But for folks that have discovered that those philodendron and monstera get massive in size, much bigger than they thought they would, they're getting crowded out by their plant collection now. So tiny plants are really kind of the perfect solution to whether you live in a tiny space, or you want to keep growing in a collection, but you're out of room, because of your bigger plants, tiny plants are the perfect way to grow.
Ethan Waldman 6:32
I love it. So I want to I want to dive into to that more what you know what tiny plants and where, but what what are some examples of larger plants that can be kept artificially small? Can you do that to any old house plan? Are there only certain ones?
Leslie Halleck 6:52
Sure. So I think that most people are familiar with the concept of bonsai, right, which is really the art form of miniaturizing. Traditionally, shrubs and trees, right artificially and very small shallow containers and pruning them very aggressively over years to sort of create, mimic right, a large outdoor species and specimen in a in a small contained environment. So that would be one way that we artificially keep plants small, just general pruning, right, you can just prune plants continuously, which is kind of like bond buying them to keep them small and compact. When you get into the commercial world, you get into things called growth regulators, right, those are chemicals that you can spray on plants to essentially inhibit their their natural growth habits, you can keep plants temporarily, sometimes permanently, artificially small through those means. So you know, those are not the types of plants I'm talking about. In my book, I'm talking about naturally miniature plant species, right, that this is how they grow in nature. This is how you find them in nature. So certainly, you can prune down all sorts of plants. But in reality, there's only only so much you can prune back that big philodendron or monstera. It's still a big leaf foliage plants, you know, there's only so small that you can keep it however, there are miniature species of philodendron very tiny that probably most people have never seen or heard of. So you if you're into airdroid, and you're into some of the bigger cool tropical plants, but you want them on a smaller scale. That's what I'm trying to introduce you to in this book.
Ethan Waldman 8:31
Awesome. To where where can people go to find these these tiny plant species? Because I'm guessing that since you said they're often overlooked, maybe they're a little bit harder to buy in your local garden center.
Leslie Halleck 8:46
Yeah, for sure. I think that if you read the preface in the book, I talked about sort of my jungle work and travels and and research that I was doing this sort of led me to stumble upon some micro orchids, which are a particular fascination for me. And from that I started building a lot of terrariums and vivariums I kept poison dart frogs and many other herps for many years. And so when you keep those types of animals, you build really specialized environments that we call vivariums. And you have to start searching for tiny plant species that work for those species of animals and in those small contained environments. And where you find yourself shopping and hunting are with growers that are sort of outside the traditional garden center plant vendor world if you will, not to say that you won't find tiny plants at your local garden shop or plant shop. Most of those you will find will be cacti which are very popular and there's lots of tiny species that I talked about. Those will be easy for you to find. But when you start getting into the tropical, the higher humidity species ferns, orchids you have to search a little bit harder, which I think is part of the fun. You know, the hunt for these cool plants is part of the fun. But one of the things I've done in the book in the back in the resource section is actually introduce you to a lot of my favorite specialty vendors that grow and sell really itty bitty tiny plants species from foliage ferns to aquatics micro orchids, because if you're shopping, sort of in the general plant world, you're not going to find a lot of these plants. So getting out into some of the aquatics vendors, the various vendors, you know, places like that are where you're going to find some of these really cool tiny plant species that you've probably never seen before. And you've probably never seen offered at your local garden center, right plant shop.
Ethan Waldman 10:45
I have a memory as a kid, I don't know, maybe I was seven or six. And I somebody gave me a tiny little cactus plant that I kept on my window sill. And I think I got bored with it because I was disappointed that it wasn't growing very quickly.
Leslie Halleck 11:04
Right, actually, I have a for those listeners who actually so go online and look at the video there is, here's a really tiny dorthea one of my favorite and this is actually pretty large colony of horsea. And this is about as big as it gets. And so yeah, if you're looking for plants that are going to grow super fast and ramble. Obviously, your teeny tiny succulents and teeny tiny tropics aren't going to do that. But if you don't have a lot of space, and you have a corner of a desk, or a tiny windows spill in a tiny home, that gets bright light a tiny succulent, like this is perfect, because it's never going to outgrow its space. Right? It's gonna so that's gonna stay in that little pot forever. Yes, indefinitely, I could divide it and and split it up into new pots eventually is that as this cluster, for those that are viewing, it will kind of start to shift out of this window and I can split it, divide it propagate it. Which I have a book on propagation Plant Parenting, you can check that out, that goes into all of that. Okay, yeah, I have that one here. So if you're into propagation Plant Parenting, I show you how to divide succulents, which would be the same procedure, whether it's a tiny planter or a bigger one, but yeah, that's, that's gonna live pretty much indefinitely in that size container. So it's pretty handy if you don't have a lot of room.
Ethan Waldman 12:26
Awesome. So thinking about the setting of a tiny house, you've got, you know, a two to 400 square foot home with probably a lot of windows, so a lot of natural light, but probably not a lot of like, counter or not a lot of spare horizontal storage space, right? Can you talk about how to creatively kind of fit these plants into places where you maybe don't have a spare corner of a desk, because your desk is like multifunction, it's kind of fold down when you're not using it, that kind of thing.
Leslie Halleck 13:05
Right. So I think it you know, in terms of pots that you might want to sit down, you know, on a on a tiny windows cell or any little area that you have, that's a surface area, the great thing about a lot of these tiny plants is the relative size of their pots, I mean, many of these plants I grow in one inch containers, one to three inches, I think three and two and a half inches about is about the maximum. So you know you can have, you know, a great little fern, here's what I'm showing on the video, you know, in a two inch pot that is pretty leafy doesn't take up much space at all. And many of my tiny plants, you know, grow in one inch pot, so you don't you barely need any space for a lot of these plants, but you can also grow vertical. So a lot of these plants can be hung. So kind of a great solution for that if you have a lot of windows and a lot of diffuse bright light, maybe not quite enough for a lot of succulents that is the challenge that most indoor growers run into with succulents and cacti is that, you know, without a good five hours of direct sunlight, it can be tough to maintain those. But a lot of great diffuse indirect light is perfect for most foliage plants and a lot of tiny gesneriad like African Violets and begonias, and you can hang those tiny pots. I don't know, you know, if you're if you're into tiny houses and tiny living, I suspect that some of you may also be avid DIYers. I make my own little, you know, macrame or whatever wire plant hangers all the time and you can retrofit any little, you know, hanger or you can make one to actually go vertical with tiny plants. And to even make it easier. You could certainly even get into air plants or Tillandsia, which I don't really cover a lot in this book because there's so many other great tillandsias books but that's a really easy way to is to grow vertical. So you know if you've got some areas that you can hang some things in front Have a window. That's
Ethan Waldman 15:00
perfect. Nice. You hit on something I that's actually a great thing to ask about, which is DIY and repurposing. Yeah, because that is a big part of the tiny house movement, especially for people who are building their own houses. Do you have any kind of creative ideas for what you can put your tiny plants in? I mean, beyond, you know, your obvious, like an extra mug that you have laying around or something like that, what are what are some creative things you've seen?
Leslie Halleck 15:32
Well, that's sort of one of the great parts about growing tiny is that you can repurpose so many different things, I mean, down to really the size of a thimble, you can reuse to grow like a lot of micro
Sinningia that I grow are so tiny, the root system is so small, all you need is a little something the size of a thimble. So really, any vessel that you have, you know, can be used to grow many tiny plants. I mean, like you said, whether it's an old, you know, tiny, you know, coffee cup, or, you know, it just started, little bowl, you know, broken pottery, um, you know, reclaimed wood, there's just so many ways that you can use materials. And I and you'll see some of that in the book, I also I have a problem acquisition problem with vintage glassware. You'll see that a little bit reflected, you know, in the book, but the cool thing about like, for example, growing under glass, like, here's an example of a little micro gramophone that I keep in a pot that just grows in this little glass jar, I also use canning jars, like, that's a great thing to repurpose, or just, you know, jelly jars canning jars, I keep a lot of tiny plants inside, or covered with just a glass or canning jar. So there's a lot of dishware glassware that you just may already have, that you can repurpose for keeping a lot of these tiny plants in high humidity, you know, conditions or or to create vessels, but drainage certainly doesn't take as much resources as bigger, bigger plants, you don't necessarily have to buy big expensive pottery, there's tons of things you can use.
Ethan Waldman 17:19
Nice. So some people travel quite a bit in their Tiny Homes, particularly people who are doing you know, vans or school buses. What are some plants? Or are there any tiny plants that are maybe better than others? If you are traveling a lot, and so the light isn't always going to be consistent. Temperature could change quite a bit. Do you have any suggestions there?
Leslie Halleck 17:46
Yeah, I mean, I think if, if that's the situation, and also it depends on the kind of light and windows that you have. If if it's variable, or maybe you don't have as many windows, you're in a bad situation, then you're definitely want to go with lower light specimens. Right. So you know, you're probably not going to want to dive into full sun highlight succulents, for example, you know, because that's gonna take a lot more light. So you're going to want to stick with lower light foliage. So so if you look in the book, I kind of split up the plant profiles that I gave you into window sill versus under glass. So the plants I give you that are for the window sill are going to be the easier plants to care for. Generally, right? They're not going to be as sensitive to humidity, they can dry out more, there'll be a little bit more tolerant of very light conditions, especially the foliage, you know, the non blooming species are just not going to need as much light. So yes, some of the succulents that I gave you like fourth yet like that little Haworthia that I showed you, that is actually one document that is pretty low light tolerant. And so I would say that Haworthias in general, would probably be one of the perfect sort of groups of succulents that are super easy to care for. If you're a forgetful water. They can go for a long time without water, but they tolerate more water than many other succulents. So it's harder to kill them with overwatering, like a lot of your other cacti. And they'll tolerate low light. So I would say if I just kind of had to pick one genera, one genus of plants, or hybrids or cultivars thereof, Haworthia is are kind of perfect for that situation.
Ethan Waldman 19:27
Cool. And are they are they hard to find?
Leslie Halleck 19:31
No, actually, because succulents and cacti have been so popular. Yeah. In the last 10 years, there are tons of vendors and you'll find in the book I recommend there's there's a few succulent specific vendors that I recommend and you will find that Haworthia is also have had a real boom in popularity in the last few years. So you're going to be able to find tons of varieties many species of horthy of different size ranges. Many natural varieties as well as many cultivars, there are quite a few hybrids between, you know, aulos, and Orpheus, there's another genus, all Haworthia, opsis. Those are really great. So that's probably a really great place to start for anybody that's tiny home, especially mobile, is checkout all the tiny home worth is because I think that those are going to be some of the easiest to care for. They're also incredibly small. So you're really looking at those one to two inch pot sizes. It's kind of all you ever need.
Ethan Waldman 20:33
I'd like to tell you a little bit more about Tiny House Decisions, my signature guide, and the resource that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house, it starts with the big decisions, which is, you know, should you build a tiny house yourself or with help is a is a prebuilt. Shell a good idea is a house on wheels better than on the ground and what works better for you deciding on the overall size, deciding on whether you should use custom plans or pre made plans, different types of trailers and more. Then in the in part two, we get into the system so heat, water showers, hot water, toilets, electrical, refrigeration, ventilation, and we're only two thirds of the way through the book at this point. From systems we go into construction decisions, talking about nails versus screws, sips versus stick framed versus advanced framing versus metal framing, we talked about how to construct a sub floor sheathing, roofing materials, insulation, Windows flooring kitchen, I know I'm just reading off the table of contents. But I just want to give you a sense of how comprehensive tiny house decisions is. It's a total of 170 pages. It contains tons of full color drawings, diagrams and resources. And it really is the guide that I wish I had when I was building my tiny house. Right now I'm offering 20% off any package of Tiny House Decisions using the coupon code tiny, when you head over to thetinyhouse.net/THD, that's THD for Tiny House Decisions. Again, that's coupon code tiny when you check out at tthetinyhouse.net/THD.
So one thing I'm trying to figure out how to ask this because I don't I don't know this firsthand, or I guess I've seen articles. I've seen like news stories, talking about how the explosion in like air plants and all these like tropical plants is resulting in you know, like habitats and environments being kind of strip mined for their air plants are kind of just impacted heavily. How? I never thought I would ask, How can I make sure that my houseplants were ethically sourced?
Leslie Halleck 22:54
Yeah, so it's interesting. Plant poaching is a thing. And that's what we call it. And so it really kind of I think came Well, I mean, there have been many cycles of this throughout history, right of natural landscapes being ravaged by plants, orchids, you know, anything that becomes popular, you know, explorers have harvested over harvested. And that's true across many plants segments, I would say in the last 15 years or so stuck with the boom in succulents and cacti has really put a lot of pressure on natural environments, California you'll find has a really big problem with plant poaching with native succulents and cacti being harvested. So you know, you're really looking for growers, who ethically sourced their plants and grow their own plants, they're not harvesting in the wild. Ah, now with a lot of the aroids that become really popular philodendrons, monstera, you know, anthuriums, all of those kinds of plants. This has become big business in you know, Southeast Asia. So there's a lot of plant poaching now going on there. So I would say be careful with who you buy from do your research, check them out, send them an email and ask them, you know, where do you get your How do you source your plants? And are you propagating and growing your own? Or are you you know, her? And it really the same thing goes with reptiles and herps, right? If you're keeping any sort of pets like that. The same goes you know, you want to make sure that these are not wild collected animals, right? These are captive bred that conservation is the part of that business model. Right. So, yeah, you know, you want to make sure that the folks you're buying from are not harvesting. So I will say in the current plant, boom, there's a lot of people going overseas for their plant purchases. That is where you're going to be taking that risk. So I would suggest buying domestic right and and there are also a lot of growers shipping plants from overseas that They're not necessarily taken care of with biosecurity, so diseases and pests, you know, can come in on those planes. And that's actually a really big problem, right? So, you know, be thoughtful about how you buy, you know, buy local, domestic, for the most part, and just do a little bit of research on that vendor.
Ethan Waldman 25:17
You don't want to be the person bringing in the, like, Dutch Elm disease of, of tiny plants. Yeah, and
Leslie Halleck 25:25
I'll say, and I will say this sort of, again, the new houseplant boom has brought about a lot of new hobbyist growers that are just growing and selling out of their houses, that many of them are simply just not experienced or aware about those things. And, you know, don't realize they have to have a license, you have to depending on what state you're in, you need something like a nursery floral license, and that means the USDA can inspect your nursery stock, they can inspect your business anytime they want. And that's for a reason. You know, that's so we can cut down on transmission of very destructive diseases, that could be a problem for agricultural crops. So yeah, I mean, it's good to be informed about all those things, for sure.
Ethan Waldman 26:06
Absolutely. Yeah. Thanks. Thanks for filling us in. And there are real parallels there to the tiny house industry where there has also been a huge boom. And there are a lot of, you know, a lot of builders who are building tiny houses, who not all kind of know what they're doing.
Leslie Halleck 26:24
I think that is, anytime something becomes popular, right? All of a sudden, you get a lot of newbies flooding into the market, who may or may not be offering, you know, product in a way that is backed up with a lot of experience and knowledge or maybe the right type of certifications or the right licenses. So, I mean, it's this is living material that can impact any natural environment, you have to be careful about invasive species. So, yeah, you have to do your research, learn about the plant, you're buying who you're buying it from, just like you would if you're trying to be sustainable and responsible when you're building a home or a tiny house or anything really
Ethan Waldman 27:02
well. One thing that is cool about the DIY spirit of the tiny house movement is that people can really customize their homes, you know, to suit their interests and activities. Like, I've seen a few different tiny homes that have climbing wall features either inside or outside, you know, tiny houses that have a Jacuzzi tub, because the person loves to dads or things like that. So I'm curious, if you Leslie, I don't know what your feeling about Tiny Home living is. But if you were forced to live in a tiny home, would there be what what special features would you insist were built into that home to support your plant, parent lifestyle,
Leslie Halleck 27:48
my plant parent lifestyle, my plant habit? Well, so I would probably take cues from some of the things I have done in my not tiny house, which is basically growing vertical, I have reclaimed a lot of things like duster palettes and whatnot to build integrated wall shelves with lighting in them, you know, low profile, small wall shelving that fits in my kitchen that I actually have bro lighting mounted in. So it doesn't take up a lot of space that grows vertical, but it allows me to grow some things in a very small space near my kitchen. So if that's I would probably look at creating some vertical wall units that were you know, shallow low profile, but that I could put in for lighting that would allow me to grow tiny plants or herbs, you know, that are within within reach right from from the kitchen or that just, you know, augmented the space visually. So I would be I would definitely be looking at sort of how to pocket plants, my tiny house, if you will, by using wall space creatively sealing space creatively. And then probably what I would do if I was gonna get a little more technical would be maybe to use a small sliver of space that might be refrigerator space is a little bit of a growth chamber, you know, great way to grow microgreens and things like that in a tiny artificial environment. So I would probably focus on some of those things.
Ethan Waldman 29:17
Cool. And that actually, you brought up a great point that I hadn't even thought of is that, you know, these tiny plants don't necessarily just have to be aesthetic, they can also be for eating
Leslie Halleck 29:27
Sure, sure. I mean, yeah, you can you know this in tiny plants. They wanted me to focus specifically on houseplants, right, because it's such a huge topic, and I was limited on space in this book, right. So I mean, I could have gone on forever, but it's a tiny book on tiny plants. And so I had to limit my plant choices, but certainly, there are. I mean, there's so many 1000s of teeny tiny plant species, you know, time the herb time is a great example. There's some incredibly micro varieties of time that you know, don't even grow barely An inch I mean, you know, not even a half an inch tall be kept in very small pots. So low profile shelving with some girl lighting. I mean, you can maintain very small culinary plants as well. Yeah, there's a lot of new micro vege out on the market micro vege, what I call micro vege. So, I'm an intensive indoor grower, right, so my other book, gardening under lights, I go way into that, for anybody who's looking to grow intensively indoors, I go into lighting and grow lighting. And the, you know, the challenge with growing edibles and indoors is often their size, right? You know, tomatoes are big plants, you know, I mean, you know, peppers can be big plants, eggplants are big. And so in the last few years, there's tons of new dwarf cultivars that stay tiny micro tomatoes that are under eight inches tall, you know, tiny peppers, tiny micro basil. So you can also pocket plant with grow lighting, and a tiny home with micro batch,
Ethan Waldman 31:02
enter. Cool now, so I've seen, I feel like I've seen advertisements for little kits, or like their little tiny grow setups that come with some starter seeds, and you can grow like some herbs in your kitchen. Are there any of those that you recommend,
Leslie Halleck 31:19
up until recently, you know, most of it, okay, there's a lot of false advertising around a lot of those anytime you see one of those grow units, that's got LEDs, and it's generally about 20 watts or less. And there's the image has, like these big beefy tomato plants with a bunch of ripening fruit on it, that is photoshopped. The reality is there's just not enough like quantity that's going to be generated from a unit like that to achieve those results. Now, I would say in the last year or so, there have been a lot of improvements in output for LED lighting. And some of these units are now starting to put out a higher quantity of light, which can better support routing rate. So leafy greens and herbs don't need as much by quantity as something that fruits so you know, lettuce and leafy herbs are much easier to grow in those types of contain grow unit. So I would say I would say they're getting much better. But up until now, I could pretty much look at most of them and say not enough light, not enough light, not enough light, you know, plants are going to be leggy, they're not going to fruit you know. So you're really looking for a higher output of light quantity, essentially. And then, you know, matching that with what you're trying to grow. Are you throwing leaves? Are you trying to grow fruit? Right? So I dive way more into that into gardening under lights if you really want to geek out on that. It's a big topic but yeah, I would say that if you're going to buy a new self contained grow unit with grow lights, a little small countertop unit, yeah, you're safe. growing some leafy greens. You know, some lettuces, some small herbs, maybe try the micro dwarf basil. You can even try some of the like the micro Tom tomato, tiny, tiny cherry tomatoes. Don't try to grow big, you know, slicing tomatoes in those?
Ethan Waldman 33:22
Yeah. Well, the cherry tomato plants can get huge too.
Leslie Halleck 33:27
Yeah, so you have to you have to look for the micro tomato, micro tomato, not even just word but look for micro tomatoes. And there's quite a few new cultivars out on the market now. So if you're gonna do that, stick with the micro tomatoes, miniature vegetables, miniature basil, because basil, you know, they always show those in those units. But the basil always outgrows the size of those. Yeah, they'll continue doing it. They want to flower really bad. Yeah. And so and they just outgrow and then the foliage gets burned because it's touching the light so you got to stay tiny. Okay,
Ethan Waldman 34:04
you got to have your own little bonsai garden basil
Leslie Halleck 34:07
pretty got maker every I mean those tiny house tiny growing unit tiny plant varieties.
Ethan Waldman 34:14
So when would your book growing under lights kind of teach me how to start growing microgreens on my counter? Yes. Cool. All right. Yeah, well
Leslie Halleck 34:24
yeah, I go in Gardening Under Lights I I'm going to dive into some plant science one on one which all of my books do so I always try to teach some plants science so that you understand the why behind what how plants are growing and what it is that you have to do. So I'm gonna teach you all about how plants use light. I'm going to teach you all about how to understand artificial grow lighting. And then I I outline a bunch of different crops edible and ornamental in the book and how to grow those. Yeah, there's info on microgreens as well. You have a favorite plant? Ah, this is always the worst and best question right because, as all professional horticulture is how can I pick this one plant? And on any given day, my answer might change right from one day to another, I might have a different favorite plant. In terms of tiny plants. I love living stones lithops I'm super cool, super cute. And I'm a little partial to them. There's a lithops Leslie eyes so I have my namesake plant and I, I have I have seed that I have all different varieties of lithops Leslie I love micro orchids, you know, but I mean, gosh, it's so hard to pick I love so many different plants. So it's, it's, it's tough to choose.
Ethan Waldman 35:52
Yeah, I I'm not gonna I'm not gonna press you to choose but that that's a good answer.
Leslie Halleck 35:59
It's like which kid is your favorite? All of them? Yeah, but I love I mean, I I call myself in everything asked. I love everything. You know, I am a I'm a huge outdoor gardener. It's funny, all of my books Central. You know, ours kind of central theme is indoor gardening techniques. That's that's what the publishers have come to me and asked me to do my master's degrees in indoor greenhouse production environmental controls. So that's a natural fit. But I'm an intensive outdoor horticulturist and gardener. I'm a big vegetable gardener. I keep chickens bees, fruit trees, perennials, roses. I mean, I grow everything. So I am the opposite of a horticultural snob. There's nothing that's off limits to me. I love everything. I grow everything. And you go through your phases. Yeah, you know, have different things that you like. I mean, I've gone through 100 Oregon phases, I've gone through bonsai phases, I've gone through various building phases, I've gone through obsessive rose, collecting phases, bowls, I've had a huge bowl problem, you know. So I mean, in any given month or year, I have sort of a new rotation of plant obsessions and tiny plants, I just kind of felt like it was prime time, with kind of the last year and a half and everything that's gone on. And everybody's sort of, you know, living in more confined ways and potentially more mobile, like wanting to be more mobile, that growing tiny is really a way that you can still live with nature and keep growing. But do it on a scale that works for you. You know, small or mobile.
Ethan Waldman 37:38
Nice. Well, Leslie halleck. Thank you so much for being a guest on the show today. This was really fun. I learned a lot. Yeah, I'm
Leslie Halleck 37:46
diving into your blog, I'm actually looking at some land off and on myself and trying to decide do I want to buy a house? Or do I want to build a tiny house? So I'm definitely going to dive more into all of your blog and your content and maybe bug you with some tiny house question, then you can bug me with tiny play questions get in touch.
Ethan Waldman 38:06
Whenever you need. I guess my advice is don't build anything right now. If you can, right. Wait, because expensive. In general, is insane. Have the cost got plants gone up during the pandemic?
Leslie Halleck 38:17
On the plant? Yes, the cost? It's definitely have there's a supply chain issue as well. So supply and distribution. It's kind of put pressure on everybody across the spectrum. Yeah. And so yeah, plant shortages are kind of a thing. Obviously, demand is way up. I know that some of the community has been concerned about raising plant prices. But I will say as somebody who's been in the industry for almost 30 years, plant prices have really been way too low for a really long time. I don't think people realize how little growers actually make off of years of growing a plant before it gets to you. Right. So I will say that there's some unnecessary race corrections that have needed to happen. Sure. But if you get into like plant auctions, like some other crazy deep dives, people are paying insane prices for plants like 1000s of dollars for like a cutting of a particular species of monstera. I will tell you as a professional horticulturist, I will never do that. I will never do that because it's too risky. You know, this plants can be really tricky to grow. So yes, there's definitely plant inflation. But I think that as we get over the next year or two, some of that's going to level out,
Ethan Waldman 39:29
right. And it sounds like like if you have some friends who are also interested in in plants or tiny plants that you could potentially kind of share your plants by dividing them or propagating them and then not have to buy lots of plants. Yeah,
Leslie Halleck 39:47
if you get my book Plant Parenting, I teach you how to deal that's a great way I love green giving. I'm really sort of like holiday consumerism like makes me itchy kind of gives me a rash. I'm really I Just like that consumption of so much stuff around gift giving and holidays, I find excessive plants, I think are a great way to give green. And so yeah, and I so I definitely encourage that the only thing I will say is that, you know, be careful when you're mailing or sending plants across state lines, you have to be really careful about what you're sending, make sure it's clean, you know, stuff like that. But I think local plant swaps with friends and other enthusiasts are great. I was actually doing a bunch of plants up before the pandemic shut everything down. Hope to do some tiny plant swaps. Soon when things kind of open up in a better way. But yes, sharing sharing cuttings or divisions or swapping plants is I think a really awesome way to sustainably support your plant habit. Nice.
Ethan Waldman 40:50
I think we'll leave it there Leslie how like okay, so much for being a guest on the show.
Leslie Halleck 40:55
Thanks for having me on. And it was great to visually meet you.
Ethan Waldman 41:00
Thank you so much to Leslie Halleck for being a guest on the show today. You can find the show notes including photos of the plants that Leslie and I talked about links to all three of Leslie's books, and more at thetinyhouse.net/166. Again, that's thetinyhouse.net/166. Well, that's all for this week. I'm your host, Ethan Waldman. And I'll be back next week with another episode of the Tiny House Lifestyle Podcast.
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