I've never done a great deal of gardening. I like to experiment, and I enjoy the fruits of my labors, but I've not invested in much, in terms of equipment or education. Just sort of a 'shoot from the hip' kind of thing.
This year I decided to take things a bit more seriously. This, after I promised myself I wouldn't do a garden...so much for promises to myself.
I decided that my garden would grow with peas and blueberry plants in my garden boxes, and everything else in Global Buckets, www.globalbuckets.org. The buckets are a spin on the EarthBox revolution, but instead of investing in a $50 Earthbox, which would only grow two plants, or in the case of tomatoes, just one, I used materials I sourced for next to nothing, and made Global Buckets instead.
I have my buckets made, and now I'm waiting on weather, and the growth of my seedlings, to transplant into the buckets, which won't happen for a couple more months.
The seedlings have started to take over my guest/craft/sewing room. While there is still enough room (barely) for a single air mattress, to accommodate one guest, it has become a room where my ideas come to life. As such, it has become a favorite room. Like the rest of my house, it's about function vs. form, but the older I get, the less I care about form, and the more I care about what my house can do for me, or in other words, "function".
This weekend I told Cliff I needed more space for my seedlings, and needed more grow lights, too. Being the electrical wholesaler that he is, he set me up lickity split.
We use these shelves in our business, so it wasn't hard to fit one with fixtures for my seedlings. The bottom shelf is also fitted with a fixture, but I have to wait to split the remaining tomato plants before I will need to use it. Set on a timer, the lights come on, and stay on, for 16 hours/day. It has proven a very effective way to grow starts. I'm very pleased with how everything has emerged this year, and I'm glad I made the choice to start from seed. Far more cost effective. The Solo cups really make nice (interim) planters, and the clothes pins (50 for 98 cents from Walmart!) were great for 'tagging' each cup.
In the two days since I took the above image, they are triple in size. Amazing how fast they grow!
My basil cuttings grew well in water. Once they had developed roots, I transplanted them into the well loved Solo cups. I have several others started, and now that I know how easy it is to grow from cuttings, I will never be out of basil again!
Emergence has been well over 90% on all the seeds. Far more than I expected, and as a result, I've over planted. I will need at least another 12-18 Global Buckets to house everything. Of course, that assumes all starts survive hardening off, and the move to outdoors. Time will tell!
There is no doubt that gardening is an up front investment, but it's one I really don't mind, since it does pay off on the back end. Fresh food isn't cheap, and if you can grow it during the summer, it eases the pressure on the wallet.