|Two Week Comparison|
I thought I would switch up from posting about my medical journey to talk about a little side-project I have been working on. Every spring I usually get excited and want to plant a garden. It always goes well until three or four weeks later when weeds have sprung up, or a long dry spell comes through and inevitably wipes out my feeble efforts.
To be fair, I don't generally have much time to focus on gardening so the elements will have their way, whether it be the rapacious squirrels who always eat everything I try to plant or last year's heavy drought which sucked my plants dry. The only thing I have had real success with have been my grape vines. Those hardy plants grow despite me, which is a good thing.
This year I was planning on avoiding the garden altogether until I read a blog about hydroponic gardening. The author talked about how he preferred it, because he could control everything and more importantly he didn't have to deal with bugs or weeds. As soon as I saw that I was already 95% interested in what he had to say. I don't know whereas I could adequately summarize what I learned in that blog, so I recommend you head on over to Hydroponic Workshop and start reading from his first post. He takes a very scientific approach to his hobby and has debunked a lot of the myths that have been circulating about growing vegetables hydroponically.
I think that hydroponics has been unfairly treated due to the many associations with illegal production of Marijuana. If you think about it, in order to maximize their profits, those engaged in such an activity are looking for the easiest and quickest way to get their product out. If that is not an endorsement for hydroponics I don't know what is.
As for me, I bought a simple set up and planted a tomato plant two weeks ago. I didn't know how it would go, because I don't plan to spend much time with it, however I have been very surprised by the results. If you look at the picture above you will see a "before and after" comparison of when I started. In only two weeks that tomato plant has outpaced the pepper plant next to it, and I have run out of grow space since it has already reached my grow light. Luckily I can move it outside this week since we will finally have some temperatures in the 70s, with no chance of freezing.
I am having trouble deciding how I will proceed from here. I am tempted to plant that tomato and put more plants into the hydroponic setup so that they have a quick growth boost before going into my garden where I can set up a trellis and let them fruit. This is opposed to letting the plant sit for it's entire lifecycle in the hydroponic setup. The negative part to this approach is that there are only four spots for planting.
I am also considering building an "ebb and flow" system, which would give me much more space to do pure hydroponic growing. This is an attractive idea to me, and I have learned (from the blog I mentioned above) that this can be accomplished for a fairly cheap price. Once I have taken the MCAT, I will have an abundance of free time that I plan to use to decompress initially, before going back to volunteering and hopefully doing some research. Rounding out this years garden looks like it will be my top priority.
After three years of substandard results, I was ready to give up. Now I am excited about gardening again. I can't wait to see what I can do!