Tuesday, May 15, 2012

2012 Garden Philosophy

When I set out to create this year's garden I had a few goals.

In no particular order:

1. Organic - natural fertilizers/insect control, no pesticides. I could do better with this one by making my own compost and using cover crops. I do use natural means of pest control (removal, soapy water, etc), but I didn't use natural fertilizers (after the compost fail of 2012). I did use organic fertilizer, but cover crops and crop rotation would be ideal. As for cover crops and composting, this is a little difficult because I live in an apartment complex and use a community garden (I didn't know which plot would be mine). Same problem with crop rotation. Not impossible though. In the future, I will be better about this. For now, I bought organic soil builders and organic fertilizers and worked them both into the soil.

2. Sustainable - typically this means "requiring no outside input." For me, this meant cutting down my reliance on outside influences, such as fertilizers, pots, grow lights, electricity. I tried to do all of this by using the soil blocker to start seeds (no waste) and using my car as a greenhouse (no electricity). Both worked perfectly! For next year (ahem Morgan; ahem Christmas), I want the micro blocker so smaller seedlings take up less room! I used some electricity for the heating mat and the grow light, but I kept it to the shortest possible amount of time, which was the first 2 weeks when the sun wasn't being very reliable. When it was sunny, everything went in the carden. I also just reserved a rain barrel from the town to collect rain water to use in the garden. This will hopefully help in future gardens.

3. Abundant - my goal was simply to grow too much! I think next year I'll try to grow a greater variety too. I certainly planted a lot of plants this year, but I'm not sure how much is too much yet. Time will tell. Also, for someone who doesn't love tomatoes that much, I may be growing too many. Again, time will tell.

4. Entirely from seed - this is really so that I can make sure my garden is entirely organic and sustainable, but also because it is a lot more rewarding, albeit also a lot more challenging. Only time will tell if I've done a good job, which makes me a little nervous. Starting your own seeds is also a lot more affordable. Individual plants aren't too expensive, but it adds up. The most expensive part of this year for me was buying soil builder (about $60 total...maybe), but if I did a better job of using natural fertilizers and I grew my own seedlings, the operation would cost almost nothing year after year.

5. Keep it neat and simple - I tried to keep the seed starting/growing/planting process neat and simple. Basically, I didn't want the whole system to break down because it was too complex or time-consuming. Also, for me simplicity equals sustainability meaning that I'd be more likely to continue gardening rather than throw my hands up out of frustration. So far so good! I also kept the garden to one flat of plants and to one table, as promised to Morgan instead of taking up the entire kitchen counter. That was a bad idea last year. I admit it! I didn't like it either!

This is my 2012 gardening philosophy. For next year? I hope to grow more greens (lettuces, chard, kale, bok choy, spinach) and more variety of plants. Also, I hope to use/have my own backyard so that I can start cool weather plants early and so that by mid-May we could start eating!

1 comment:

  1. Keep up the good work honey! Your (not so subtle) hints for the micro blocker have been duly noted. Also, in case you haven't left your windowless office today, some good news for the crops - it's pouring outside!