By John Wolcott HBJ Freelance Writer
SMOKEY POINT — Indoor gardening is gaining more and more attention, providing a real-world solution to the Pacific Northwest’s short outdoor growing season.
Already, Snohomish County has four stores catering to supplies, equipment and how-to helpfulness.
ProGrow in Smokey Point and SnoGrow in Snohomish opened for business in 2012. Mike’s Indoor Garden Supply in Arlington has been open for several years. And in Lynnwood, Indoor Garden &Lighting is part of a network of stores in Seattle, Kent and Preston.
All of them are boosting support and spreading interest in the “gardening-under-your-roof” approach to growing vegetables, flowers and even exotic orchids.
“Indoor vegetable gardening is part of the sustainability movement, too,” said ProGrow’s Robert Bayya, who started the business a year ago with partner Alex Munday. “Sustainable gardening is important for many reasons, including teaching children where food comes from. Many of them have no idea. It’s not just from the grocery.”
Bayya and Munday were neighbors and friends while they attended the University of Washington. Bayya studied business and Munday focused on economics. Soon each found they were fascinated by the idea of owning a business centered on promoting indoor agriculture.
“Kids today don’t really know where food comes from or how it’s grown from the earth and we want to help educate the next generation as well as encourage adults to grow their own food as a hobby or to help sustain themselves with indoor gardens,” Bayya said. “They’ll also find indoor gardening isn’t as expensive as many people think.”
His first customers were farmers and organic growers. He said he immediately felt an affinity with them because he grew up on a Snohomish County farm himself.
A graduate of Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Bayya has a vision to foster sustainability that fits in well with ProGrow’s focus on indoor gardening. Working with soil, plants and vegetables also offers a “spiritual” kinship with the Earth, he said, whether it’s inside or outside growing.
Coming from a Navy family, Bayya attended six high schools, including in California and Japan, and was impressed with seeing Japanese women going to their gardens as he headed to class.
Now he’s impressing others, teaching them new ways to garden and grow everything from tomatoes, lettuce, basil, mint and peppers indoors. One of his customers even has “a huge orchid collection in his house. … Specialty flowers are a part of our business, too.”
He said one farmer told him that he has been able to produce as much with a quarter-acre under cover as he could with two unprotected acres because he wasn’t limited by the region’s short growing season.
“You can extend that season by completely controlling it in a greenhouse environment,” he said.
ProGrow offers more than portable rooms with grow lights and cooling ducts, organic growth fertilizers and plants. Customers also find ample amounts of information, advice and insights “in a friendly, reliable and professional manner,” he said.
Bayya also donates some of his profits to the Arlington High School cheerleaders, sponsors an AHS student who races go-karts and sells paintings by local artist Stefani Buell.
“I attend sustainability conferences around the state, offer a beginning hydroponics class for customers and invest in my employees’ education so they continue to learn and grow themselves,” he said.
Indoor garden suppliers
ProGrow, 3411 169th Place NE Suite C, Arlington, offers growing environments, heating and cooling equipment, fertilizers and other supplies for indoor gardening, including expert advice on growing fruits, vegetables, flowers and exotic plants. Call 360-925-6503 or go to www.facebook.com/ProGrowNW.
Mike’s Indoor Garden Supply, 6121 172nd St. NE, Building A, Arlington, is a complete indoor gardening and hydroponics store with greenhouse and indoor garden supplies, lighting, water filtration systems, ventilation, portable garden rooms and nutrients, supplements and fertilizers. Call 360-474-1900 or go to www.mikesindoorgarden.com.
SnoGrow Indoor Gardening Supply, 502 Maple Ave., Snohomish, provides sound advice and resources for hydroponic, indoor and urban gardening needs, plus nutrients and supplements, lighting, humidity and temperature control accessories, drip garden systems and growing supplies. Call 360-863-6935 or go to www.snogro.com.
Indoor Garden &Lighting, 20505 Highway 99, Lynnwood, is a hydroponic equipment and indoor gardening store offering garden supplies and fertilizers as well as technical support, gardening tools and related indoor growing equipment. Call 425-673-2755 or go to www.indoorgarden.com.