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Getting Serious About Growing Our Own Food…

I’m getting serious about growing our own food. Again.

I almost gave up this past fall and winter, thanks to depression. I wanted to sell our property and buy a gently-used camper van along with a small travel trailer and plan our trips so that we would pass by a Whole Foods no less frequent than once a week and never, ever have to endure the chilly humidity of this area again.

Now, I want to figure out how to live here and be fully happy. A big part of that is not having to drive almost two and a half hours away in order to obtain organic food – at least not most of it. So I have to solve three problems:

  • How to garden so as to use the least amount of water.
  • How to grow healthy, nutritious plants despite the pathetic native soil (which doesn’t hold water or nutrients – sand and rocks, only about ten percent clay, hardly any loam).
  • How to maintain a more or less continual harvest of fruits and vegetables, for at least part of the year…and in the case of greens (and perhaps even carrots), year-round.

I’ve got two or three of different ideas for the first two problems. Even though it will take me at least two years to implement them, they will work so I consider those problems solved. More details later.

Back to indoor gardening

As for the third problem, one solution is already in the making: grow plants that produce ripe fruits at different times, and/or whose fruits can be stored long-term at room temperature. The Korean pear is supposed to be able to be stored at room temperature for five or six months, and one of the variety of jujubes we have (picture a small red fruit that tastes similar to apple) is meant to be eaten dried.

The other solution I kinda-sorta tried last fall, but didn’t get very far with it: indoor gardening. I set up the two middle shelves in one of the metal shelf units in the bathroom with fluorescent lights. I even grew some lettuce. But after it got bitter quickly – I didn’t realize I had to top-water it every day for it to be happy – I decided I’d just use the lights for starting seeds for the summer garden.

Until I got inspired. I’ll make a long story short, because I got to the video I’m about to mention via a rabbit hole while researching something else on YouTube (I know you know what I’m talking about!). I found a video of a guy who grows some food indoors, and uses a $20 LED grow light that he found on Amazon.

I knew there were such creatures, but the ones I’d seen were WA-AY more expensive than $20. They were actually a larger panel of LED grow lights intended for greenhouse growers.

The really exciting part for this health nut: the light mimics the sun to the extent that the plants produce the phytonutrients just like they would if they were grown outside. No other grow lights, to my knowledge, do that.

Now I wish I’d waited and not been so hasty in buying the fluorescent lights. Oh, well.

My shelves are waiting

I need to get better at remembering to take “before” pictures when I’m about to make a major household change that I think people might be interested in. Alas, I forgot this time, for the thousandth time.

So, allow me to show the “in between” photos of the metal shelves and explain how they have changed thus far.

The middle shelf is empty because that’s where I had two five-gallon Smart Pots with lettuce. On the top shelf there used to be, on the right, a large cardboard box with a smaller cardboard box on top of it, and a smallish storage box with computer-related paraphernalia at the very top. At the left was a smallish plastic storage box with gift-wrapping bows, with a small cardboard box containing crafty items on top.

In between the two stacks of boxes were miscellaneous items.

In other words, the top shelf was particularly cluttered and ugly. Even if not for the sake of making more room for an indoor garden, I was going to tidy it.

As you can see, that shelf has been emptied. In a couple of months, I’m going to order a few of the LED grow lights, which J will mount to the wooden rafters above. And I’m going to grow greens.

In the next photo, you can see some of the items that came from off that top shelf.

See the shelf with the toilet paper tubes stuck together? That used to have a white plastic storage tub and a larger clear plastic tub (one of those thirty-inch long deals). Those two boxes, along with a couple of the boxes that used to be on the top of the other shelf, are now in one of the two sheds. They contain things that we rarely, if ever, need, and do not require climate control.

Most of the items that are on that middle shelf in the photo came from that top shelf in the other two photos, the one with the lights.

So, I’ve started to make room. Now, I need to make plans. I would like to conserve water as much as possible, so I’m considering building an aeroponics system.

Yes, that would use some electricity, but not much. And if it means not dragging dirt into the bathroom or worrying about how much water I’m using, it will be worth it.

Stay tuned (by clicking the envelope icon at the top of the right sidebar) to follow my saga of growing food!

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