Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hippie hippie quite contripy how does your Garden grow?

Well alas it is now September. Where has the summer gone? The same place as they all eventually do, it marched slowly from the future to the present and finally into the past. Now we come to the blessedly cool(hopefully) autumn. My favorite time of the year.

I mentioned farming as an important skill to have when comes the 'pocalypse. I still feel this way, and I don't recall if I mentioned it, but we decided to try an indoor garden to see if we, a pair of college educated adults who have been around gardens much of our lives, could make anything grow indoors. Call it a precursor for some dreams I have for my eventual post apocalyptic survival compound.

We had one large south-facing window in our second story apartment in which to drop pots in front of and hopefully soak up the solar light, water and heat and transform that through magic into edible food stuffs. I think I covered the basics in my last post, but here it is again. We bought several cubic feet of potting soil, filled some five gallon buckets that had originally come filled with cat litter, and then planted several varieties of plants in said buckets.

Our plant list was as such.
1 grape tomato plant (From planter)
1 planter of snap peas on a vine (from seeds)
1 planter of green beans bush variety(from seeds - meant to plant the vine variety – oops)
1 planter of several varieties of lettuce (from planter)
1 planter of green (red) peppers (from planter)
and the herb garden with Rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano and dill. (seeds and planter)
1 indoor miniature perpetual strawberry plant

Now here's the update on our haul. Of the listed plants only the lettuce, pepper, basil and oregeno are still flourishing. The lettuce is fading fast – while the peppers have just begun to flower. I have high hopes for the peppers.

My first problem was the transfer from the original pots to their final homes in the planters. I would guess that I was not nearly as nimble as is necessary to keep the sprouts in top shape.

The strawberry plant was the first to go. We left for a weekend and when we returned it was covered with a web that was formed by a colony of small white insects. No clue what they are, and my quick google search has failed to provide clues.

I over-watered the green beans and snap peas both became moldy and water-logged, killing them in the process. Nothing came of the snap peas, as they just never matured enough. The green beans produced five. Not pounds. Five beans. Rather a disappointment.

The tomato plant exploded until it was around 7 or 8 feet tall. We had wrapped it in a cage early on, but this didn't help much as it collapsed under it's own weight. Afterwards it really largely stopped production. I think that the plant needs to be outside among other tomatoes so that it can pollinate and be pollinated in a giant plant orgy. We got 4 tomatoes out of it. Mind you, these are grape tomatoes. I don't know how they tasted as I detest raw tomatoes.

What I have learned about the herb garden. First Rosemary is a real bitch to get going. Found that little tidbit out later on. When growing rosemary it is best to get a plant that has already been started than trying to raise your own from seed. I planted an entire packet of seeds(100 perhaps) and have nothing to show for it. The rest of the herbs sprouted easily and shot up like weeds, while I got two or three sprouts of rosemary, none of which got more than an inch or two tall.

The oregeno and basil did smashingly well. But they need more room and crowded out the thyme, which had a strong start but died in the end due to a lack of sunlight. On retrospect I might have been able to nurse it back to health, assuming that it is as hardy as common lawn grass. The dill dried out and faded away.

All in all, the plants need more room and better drainage(or someone with a less itchy trigger finger on the watering can). More light would help too. The single window was crowded, especially when that damned tomato plant took off.

This has been an interesting experience, and judging by the amount of food produced, a largely failed experiment. But one valuable for future reference should the inclination take us to plant again in the spring. This was a rather lost cause in terms of payout. Hopefully it works better with more open land. For now, I am set aback by the fact that I am a rather shitty farmer and I dread the day the apocalypse comes. Though I did manage to make it through my experience without losing any digits.

I just started reading My Empire of Dirt by Manny Howard. So far so good. And it provides a fun story that is far more in depth and ambitious than my own - mostly due to my lack of resources. Good to see that I'm not alone in my crazy flights of fancy.