Friday, March 1, 2013

Square Inch Gardening: In the beginning...

"Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
Gonna mulch it deep and low
Gonna make it fertile ground"
David Mallett, The Garden Song 1978

Walk with me. We will take a quick tour around the grounds to get our bearings. You may want to grab a hoodie or sweater as the temperature lately has hovered in the low to mid 50s (that's Fahrenheit as we are located in Texas, and I do not do conversions unless asked nicely) with a stiff northerly breeze straight off the Oklahoma snow field.

 Here in North Texas we are some 27 days out from our average frost-free date. Temperature wise, we've had a mild winter so far, and the drought continues. We're currently under water use restrictions here in River City, so that outside faucet there doesn't look to get much, if any, use this season.
The sorry state of the "South Garden" on Feb. 28, 2013
 The South Garden (above), so-called because the plot faces south, is where we left off yesterday evening, the last day of February. It's every bit the mess it looks. We began clearing out the dead St. Augustine grass along the front edge to better reveal the shrubs we transplanted about a year ago. Damned now if I can remember what they are, but I believe I was told they are hawthorn.

The green along the back next to the house is a volunteer immigrant that may be primrose. I did not plant it, nor was it in the bed prior to introducing the alleged hawthorn. Alleged primrose has one bloom open (not visible from this shot) and a tangle of dried stems bearing seed pods. We collected several of the pods yesterday and will be playing with them later.

Part of our plan of the day is to continue clean-up here and in the east bed on the other side of the front stoop. No, it doesn't look any better than this. In fact, it's worse.

The seed germ for Square Inch Gardening was planted by a TED Talk I watched back the beginning of the week. No, I don't recall the title nor the presenter's name at the moment, but I will look it up later...if I remember to do so. Anyway, this youngish woman, I think it was, was going on about innovations that will help us through the trials and tribulations to come as a result of climatic change and population pressure. One notion that struck a chord was the idea of window farming. 

A vertical window farm is born!
 The main idea behind window farming is growing edible plants hydroponically in vertical columns in windows. Such a system allows virtually anyone to grow a portion of their own food no matter how restricted their personal space may be.

Through the website you can get detailed plans for building your own system or buy a system. Both options are too rich for our fixed income, however, so I decided to ease my way into window farming by improvising (right).

These two plots are hanging in our north-facing bedroom window, a less than ideal location for maximum solar gain. The plus side is that AnniePie can interact with them daily and I'm less likely to forget to tend to them. The yellow plot is a commercial primrose I picked up at the grocery store several weeks back. The other plot is an experiment with Bloomsdale spinach.

Think maybe I'll put some of those spinach seeds in the ground out back today.

Now, the Farmers' Almanac has it that the next "good" dates for planting above ground crops are the 11th--12th. However, their "best" window this month is the 20th through the 22nd. Well, maybe we will start some indoor seed pots today and put some "control" seeds in the ground outside to test this planting by the moon business.

My late aunt Kitty was a master gardener if ever there was one. I'm sure she had lunar cycle farming in her bones, but foolish pup that I was, I never took the opportunity to learn from her when I had the chance. Now were faced with having to read up on it and play with it on our own. If anyone has any thoughts to offer on the subject, I'd be proud to hear 'em. My "comments" section is open to all, so keep it clean, please,

Follow the link in the text for the back story of grandma's pot.
 That's my Grandma Saunders' cast iron wash pot there on the left with Stinky, our yard cat. This is about midway down our westside patio garden under an old Texas native pecan tree. We're undecided as yet what to do with this plot, but there is sufficient maintenance chores here to keep us occupied for awhile.

Speaking of which, I've done run fifteen minutes over my time, so that is going to be our tour for today. 

Y'all come back now. Hear? 

 UPDATE: March 3

We found that TED Talk on window farming; A Garden in my Apartment presented by Britta Riley.



  1. I love the window farm idea!

  2. Visit the website. The hydroponic systems are really neat.

  3. Hi, Jim, I am doing "pallet gardens" where the water cycles through the pallet garden much like in windowfarms. It has been a great success We had an extremely dry August and September and I couldn't keep my soil garden watered. The pallet gardens need less water and grow food faster. I have 3 types. Vertical, sloping and flat on the ground. I think the sloping ones have the most potential. I have a playlist about them at The energy use to pump water around them is about 30 cents per year per pallet and I will do it solar soon so it will be totally off grid. We need it off grid because I live in an earthquake zone and this might be the only food we have for a couple of weeks if an earthquake hits.

    1. Hey, Brian! I've seen several variations on the pallet garden and other techniques for vertical gardening. I'm constantly on the the lookout for free "rescue" pallets. I'm all for reuse, repurposing and getting off the grid! Thanks for commenting.