I must admit, I’ve started this blog a little bit late to carry you all through from the very beginning. So let me attempt to catch you up to where I am now.
I currently have a very small hydroponic flood-and-drain setup inside a little plastic greenhouse. Seriously. It’s small. In fact, it’s set up on my front porch with plenty of room to spare. It has an equally small greenhouse heater fighting against the winter chill.
The F&D system is the final version of the hydroponics I played with over the summer, attempting to do a more common garden of tomatoes and lettuce and several of the other usual suspects. I discovered that several of the pre-built so-called ‘NFT’ (Nutrient Film Technique) systems are not actually NFT systems, but are instead continuous-flow deep water cultures instead. But I’ll cover that in a different post. I also discovered that a flood-and-drain system is very easy to build and works marvelously for everything I wanted to grow at the time.
So that’s part one. In my F&D system I have a tomato—miraculously still alive in January, thanks to the tiny heater—celery, cabbage, a few green onions, and some Brussels sprouts attempting to reach for some sunlight. This is the ‘normal’ garden that I started with.
But inside! Inside I’m starting all kinds of fun things.
I started off with a Miracle Fruit. Not because it grows a useful spice, but because what it does grow is just plain cool. The berries, unremarkable on their own, connect with the sour and bitter taste receptors on your tongue, blocking them from use for a time, making everything taste sweeter. Eat a miracle berry and you can chomp on a fresh lemon as if it were lemon candy.
Or so I’ve heard. It will take another month or two for me to find out for myself. I bought a 3 ft tall, well established tree that has tiny berry buds dotting the branches, but they need time to ripen.
From my local International market, I also acquired ginger root, turmeric, lemon grass, and sugar cane. All of these are planted in pots inside my home and are merrily growing.
Etsy has been a remarkable source for unusual plants. From various sellers I have gotten Saffron crocus bulbs, vanilla vine, and a green cardamom plant. It’s also a dangerous place for finding fun plants you never knew you needed, which is why I also have a tree named “Black sapote”…a name not nearly as fun as the alternate name of its fruit: Chocolate Pudding Fruit. Inside the ripe fruit, it is supposed to look and taste like chocolate pudding. It will be a few years before I can confirm, but isn’t the idea exciting?
Now all that sounds like a great many plants, but they don’t take up much space at this point. I only have two shelves inside—one a little plastic-covered ‘mini greenhouse’ (it’s a 2′ x 5′ cheap pipe shelf with a green plastic cover, but it works)—and one a standard five-shelf metal storage rack. Both have wheels so I can move them around—essential to me because they’re inside and potting soil will inevitably drop. I need to be able to sweep under them. Each one has a 4′ long full-spectrum grow light above it on a timer, so natural light isn’t a requirement—which is good because my house is well-shaded. Only three plants are in large pots on the floor: the miracle berry tree, the black sapote, and the cardamom. Those are too tall to fit nicely on the shelves without damage. They share the light over the greenhouse and seem happy enough.
More about what I have going on in my next post!
Until then, happy homesteading!