"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Baby Steps Towards Christendom: Step #5: Plant some food

Here are some pics of my garden as of this morning:

~36 bags. ~30 different veggies and herbs.

Notice the irrigation timer in the corner. I zip tied it to a cheap plastic fence post. The town home does not have water out back!!! So I had to run a hose through the house from a shower head through a window- no simple feat.

Front row here has broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts. In the back you see a big Jalapeno plant I got for cheaper than the value of the jalapenos that were on the plant... so sad. Also cukes, Japanese eggplant, echinacea and black cherry toms in the back.

Back row: Alaska peas growing about 6 inches a day, beans struggling after transplant, Nasturtiums in front of eggplant, young tomatoes. Front row: Bug eaten lettuce, 6 kinds of herbs.

Back row: second from left is something I am excited about: Willamette hops. Yes, as in for making beer. The trellis for these goes up to my living room window on the second floor! I hope they get that high. To the right there is a 6ft steel fence post with three hanging bags or strawberries, green peppers, and tomatoes. You can just some of the drip line going to the top bag. This fencepost system is SOLID and works really well for a small space and I will be doing more of it next year. Also putting it in front of the lettuce for shade was planned.

You get the idea. More tomatoes and some chard I just planted yesterday from seed. Oh, and my Bonsai tree hanging out on the right getting in on the drip irrigation action.

From left wall to right wall my townhouse space is only 30' wide. The bags are on landscaping rocks which go out 3' from the wall. So all the usable ground space would be maybe be 100 sqft including the sides. I am using 36 grow bags which are 1.57 sqft. apiece for a total "dirt surface area" of 57 sqft in a total garden area of ~80 sqft. If this were in a raised bed style garden, it would be the equivalent of a 4'X14' raised bed, which is really not all that much. But it sure seems like a jungle to me! (And my neighbors!) What is weird is that there is unused space! And the vertical fencepost system (which I hadn't really planned on doing) is supporting 30 plants in a space of about 1.5 sqft! If I had another dozen of those posts, this garden would be ridiculously space efficient.
Here it is in April. My kids were quite interested in the whole thing.
Filling the bags was probably the most labor intensive thing so far. My mix was 1 part Vermiculite, 2 parts peat, and 3 parts composted manure. 1, 2, 3, easy. I mixed it on a big tarp and measured with a 5 gallon pail. It was nice to do this on cold April days.

Baby hops rhizome from a month ago in back, broccoli or brussels in front. You can see the drip tubing. I have it set to water in the morning. I found that the water in the tubing gets super hot, which would kill plants I bet, so I make sure to water in the morning when the water will have cooled.

Drip tubing half installed.

~month ago

Farmer Dave

What is interesting about this garden (if I do say so myself!) is that I live in a townhome. This means that I have like... no space to garden. I think if I asked the association (who takes care of all the common areas in my neighborhood) they would say I shouldn't even have this garden. Which is precisely why I didn't ask them! ;-)
Also because I don't actually own any of the land, I decided to do something which could be removed. I wanted to build a raised bed, but I knew as soon as the last screw went into the bed that I would be told to get rid of it all. So... I started looking for something more portable. There are lots of options! At first, I thought of doing something like the Big Bag Bed from the Smart Pot company. These smart pots are awesome. They are fabric, so obviously portable, and they breathe, and help regulate heat, but also they are expensive.
I looked at hard plastic pots and all sorts of things, but finally I opted for some plastic grow bags that ended up being about 60 cents apiece!
They are thick, and black on the inside/white outside, and have holes already in them. I am pretty sure I am the first person to grow veggies in these bags by the look of the website (ja know what I mean mon?) but hey, they work great.
Drip irrigation and a timer was the priciest item of the non-essentials (~$60), but I really wanted to do this thing right, and it is something I won't have to buy next year. Soil was expensive, but again, mainly a 1 time cost. And I could have just got all compost for a third of the price, that probably would have worked just fine.

So do a garden. If I can do it in a townhouse you have no freaking excuse! There is absolutely no downside to this. I tried to think of one, and I just can't. My kids love it, I love it, the food is good, it's cheap, my wife loves the fresh herbs, my chubby body likes the exercise, whats not to like? And even the failed parts of it, like dead plants are lessons for next year. Really no downsides at all.

So, tell Monsanto to eat crap and die. Grow some food today!

Previous posts in this series: Introduction, Step#1: Quit Pimpin', Step#2: Homeschooling, Step#3: Brewing Beer, Step#4: Question Technology.


  1. Just the other day I was picking and eating raspberries in my yard. There's nothing like that feeling!

  2. Thanks Andre. We got an OK deal renting it ($1175/mo.) for a 4 bed 4 bath brand new townhome. The distance from my job is the only downside.

  3. The driveway gate is a struggle to swing open & shut, has a latch set on the inside right at an easy height for Sean and Aidan to open. steel fence posts