Sunday, December 27, 2020

What I Learned about Gardening in 2020

For this I'm only going to be discussing the container garden and hydroponic garden I'm maintaining at my house. You can watch my vineyard harvest video to see how my year went with that sector.
2020 has been a long year filled with challenge and adversity. But we as a species are good at adapting for the given scenario. Likewise, gardening took on a whole new found interest and popularity with the general populace confined to their homes. But in any case I'll discuss that along with what I've learnt from my gardening experience this year.


Some of the successes this year include reviving the hydroponic garden. This is the garden I built 2 years ago, but had mothballed for the entirety of 2019 due to moving and landlord landscaping. But I found an opportunity to get it restarted once the landscaping was completed and got it running again. My design proves very flexible and portable. To see more about that garden and my doings with it this year, check out this playlist.
With this garden, I was able to get tons of basil to grow! And I mean a lot. From a few plants I bought from the store, and some seedlings, I had so much basil that even I couldn't process it all. I made quite a bit of pesto with it, which was very tasty on my ravioli and bread. I can repeat those successes next year once it gets warmer.

What I could do though is diversify my crop a bit better. I had a few kale plants growing in my system, but other than that, just basil. I did attempt a mint plant and the few cuttings I had did ok in the system. Not bad, but I really don't need that much mint. What I need to do is make a better seed starting system with the circumstances I live in.
Regarding some failures with the hydroponic garden, the biggest one that stands out is the whole garden collapsing. This because of a tomato plant I had growing in the system. The lesson here is to not plant tomatoes in a system like this. Otherwise, the algae growth in this system was out of control at times. The algae did a number on the basil plants at the end of the season, I think it ended up killing off a lot of the plants. What I need to develop for next time is a better way to block light from shining through the holes.
Also at times, the growth channels would plug up with algae and other debris, but solving the algae problem should fix that.
Moving onto the container garden, one thing I did for the first time was save seeds from Swiss Chard. I know they work too because some spilled out on the ground underneath the bucket the plant was in and they germinated. The sunflowers I grew in 5 gallon kitty litter containers came out good too. What a great use for recycled materials! The kitty litter containers also were great for growing peppers and tomatoes!

As of now though, all the plants and gardens are currently dead or dying due to the winter season. But that happens, and is part of life. Next year I plan to focus more on the hydroponic garden, using the PVC rack for starting seeds in support of that and growing some herbs. What I would really like to do is setup a sprinkler system so I don't have to go out and water every day. That would free me up for doing day trips.

The Effect of the Pandemic on the World's Habits and Supply Chain

Now for the elephant in the room: how did the pandemic affect our habits this year? For one, based on the growth of our Youtube channel in April through June, a LOT of people started gardening. Guess it has to do with getting stuck at home for weeks on end. Whenever I went to the hardware stores, a common sight was seeing the seed displays more sold out than usual. I think this also translated into the online vendors selling out of popular choices too. Bummer if you don't have a seed stockpile at home!
Another interesting effect of the supply chain disruptions was seeing many staples getting sold out. The most popular items being toilet paper, bread, pasta, flour, yeast, milk, eggs, meat, and canned food. Surprisingly, there was no shortage of vegetables. Regardless, it still makes sense to have your own supply of greens at home. But how many would you need to keep yourself self sustainable?
I've come to the conclusion that if you are renting an apartment or room in a small house, you'd be screwed if a really dangerous event occurred that took out the supply chain. The minimum real way you could harvest protein at home would be owning chickens. That way they could provide the eggs and eventually meat at home. The next option would be investing into a big aquaponic system for the vegetables and fish. But you'd need quite a bit of property to pull that off with sustainable quantities. 

Those are my thoughts on some of the occurrences and of my experiences of the year. I plan to convert this little essay into a video soon. And next month I'll have a post/video detailing plans for 2021. Until next time!

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