Gardening for the Soul

Change is in the air.  Fall is gone and winter has arrived.    There is also potential change in the  government that will have adverse effects on the environment in which we live.  As a gardener and a lover of nature denying the scientific facts of climate change is unimaginable.   While we wait for these policies and changes to come forth, I can be found hanging out in my new work space in the basement. 

 gardenRN work space with painted cement floor

gardenRN work space with painted cement floor

I spent a lot of time  planning the space and  painting the floor.  Do you like it?  I love how it turned out and it makes me happy to be here.

In the corner of my new work space is an AeroGarden that I bought with some gift money that I was given by my co-workers when I left the Emergency Room where I worked for thirteen years. The AeroGarden is a complete hydroponic grow system. It contains a reservoir for water, nutrients, a pump and a full spectrum adjustable height LED light.

There are plastic plugs that are suspended into the water reservoir.  The plastic plug is filled with coconut coir instead of dirt that is then suspended in the nutrient infused water. I have coir at home for other garden projects but it did not cut or form the way I wanted it to.  After a little research I went and bought some Rockwool.

Rockwool is a substrate from rock that is used for hydroponic gardening as it retains water and allows for hydration. The downfall of using Rockwool is  that it comes in large quantities even if you only need a little, and it needs to have the pH balanced before use.  I purchased it at a local Brew store that recommended soaking it in lemon juice for 10 minutes before using which seems to have worked great so far.

Grodan, the supplier of the Rockwool,  recommends a special pH solution but I am cheap and opted to try the lemon juice first. I believe in experimentation and if the Rockwool with lemon juice does not germinate well I'll purchase the special pH stabilizer later.

 AeroGarden Pod with RockWool

AeroGarden Pod with RockWool

I planted kale seeds that are from kale that I had planted in my garden a few years ago.  A note about seed collection; in general I am not a big seed collector, (which  has to do more with a lack of time than a lack of interest) and is definitely on my to do list. A few years ago I planted kale that came back in the very early spring,  I harvested a lot of it but  it flowered early in the season and went to seed.  The flower makes a seed pod that dried on the stem, so that's what I collected and saved.  Next year, I will be saving a lot more seeds.

 New AeroGarden

New AeroGarden

In the spirit of experimentation, I also planted kale and lettuce in dirt and have the small pots sitting on top of the AeroGarden under the LED grow lights. Why not? I love lettuce.  Here is a photo of my outdoor lettuce that I mentioned in my last blog along with the end of my summer carrots.

The garden is growing, here is Day 17

 Day 17 of Aerogarden

Day 17 of Aerogarden

I am now one month into the garden and it has produced fairly well.  I have cut 4 -5 salads from the salad greens and the basil and lettuce are now growing like crazy.  I wish that winter tomatoes tasted better for all of the fresh basil that I have but I'm going to add the basil to some of the sauce I made this summer from the garden.  I followed a new recipe this summer where I  peeled the tomatoes, cooked them in butter and onion and then froze the sauce in bags in the freezer.  I added a bag to a soup this week that I made and it was terrific! Only 152 days until the last day of frost!

 

 Basil with roots, Aerogarden Day 30   

Basil with roots, Aerogarden Day 30