Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tiny Garden Experiment -- The Final Report

Way back in March I began a tiny garden experiment after watching a documentary called Food Inc. I was literally horrified to see the state of industrial food production here in the United States and took the advice of the producers when they suggested we should all begin to break away from monster that apathy, corporate greed, and consumer convenience created. Hey, I know it's tiny but the title of this post should explain everything.

 As the picture clearly shows it consisted of a small prefabricated raised bed, and garden soil bought at the local mega-hardware. Not shown is the thick plastic tarp separating the clean garden soil from the possibly contaminated soil in my yard. The reason I did that is because if the previous occupants of the house I live are anything like the other soulless pod people of the neighborhood, my backyard is probably awash in artificial lawn fertilizers and pesticides. Again the whole point is to try and eat a little healthier and if my garden plants soaked up all the crap in the soil because the former occupant loved his living green carpet I might as well just continue buying the stuff from the local grocery store.

Initially I planted lettuce seeds directly into the soil, some broccoli plants and one cherry tomato plant bought from the hardware store. The lettuce was a huge success, to the point I began growing fur and developing longer ears. The broccoli plants went straight to seed and had to be pulled. The biggest, and strangest failure, was the cherry tomato plant that while never actually dying refused to grow. A few months later, I bought another tomato plant, this time the Roma variety, and while it grew it has been a partial failure since I have only been able to harvest about three tomatoes from it. I'm not exactly sure what happened or what I did that might have screwed up something as simple as tomato plants when the lettuce and other items did so well.

Another huge success are my pepper plants, they are even now still producing. They have been used in things like homemade salads, omelets, and fajitas. These too were store bought plants and yes, it is safe to say they have more than paid for themselves. A few months after the garden was started my wife planted some basil and parsley which did great for a while, until one of our dogs decided to dig them up.

A surprising success is my one okra plant that I bought on a whim.We never exactly had enough to fry up a "mess of okra" as my grandmother would say but we did add it to the omelets and fajitas for a rather curious taste.

The biggest and utter failure of this experiment was the seed starter kit. My wife and I bought the kit off Amazon and while the instructions seemed idiot-proof, out of the fifty small sections where a seed was supposed to be planted none of them germinated. I don't blame the kit or the soil, I probably screwed up with the amount of water I used or the location I kept the seed bed. I have this half-assed idea of trying hydroponics during the fall and winter months since I already had a grow light--from one of my wife's projects a few years back--along with plans on my computer.

What is certain is that we are going to buy another raised bed for the coming spring. We're going to move the location of the garden over next the shed since it will provide a great deal more light during the day except for the late afternoon. All things considered, I'd have call the garden an overall success even though the tomatoes and the seed starter kit were total crash and burn failures. While I didn't make a dent in the fight against agribusiness monsters I had fun.              


MikeP said...

Your tomatoes didn't grow because you didn't use enough artificial fertilizer and pesticide.


Cloudia said...

Grow marijuana - for medicinal purposes!

ALOHA from Honolulu
=^..^= . <3 . >< } } (°>

Pixel Peeper said...

I suppose gardening is a skill learned by trial and error. I think you did pretty well by having a few successes. So far, my gardening has consisted of one of those upside-down tomato plants, which was a failure. Our three citrus trees are taking turns of doing well. I understand they have good years and bad years, so that's normal.

I'm tempted now to try one of those raised beds built from a kit.

Ranch Chimp said...

Sound's and look's like a great idea Bum, the food's were starting to get in market's too are a lil questionable, they also have them lil local farmer's market type places, probably one in your town too.

Marja said...

It took us a while before everything grew here. According to my husband the soil is most important. You have to start a compost heap. Grass clippings take about 10 weeks to turn into soil. Add a bit of lime and sheep pellets.
Dig it into the soil (or buy compost at the garden centre) Good luck and good on ya!!!!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Home-grown vegetables are sooooo much better than the food-like substances typically sold in stores. When we got home from our trip to Tennessee today, I picked a mess of tomatoes from our garden, and when we ate them with dinner, they were still warm from the sun. Nothing better!

Life As I Know It Now said...

Every little bit counts BB!

goatman said...

Just a passing thought here, but it looks as if the tomatoes could use a little deeper soil for the roots.