Backyard Farming

Since I need to pay Marin County’s steep taxes to stay in my house, why not make the land pay for itself a wee bit. Artichokes have been growing in my garden since I moved here 12 years ago. The drought did a number on my normally prolific lemon tree, but it seems to be recovering since the rains. Tomatoes like it here, too.

This year I added lettuce, snap peas, kale, Swiss chard, and beans. I’m growing them hydroponically in a Tower Garden by Juice+. I bought the tower for my son and his wife for Christmas. His response, “I only grow flowers, Mom, nothing edible. Bugs!”

So the Tower Garden moved to my patio. Early April I planted some of the seeds that came with the apparatus. Juice+ provided a wool seed-womb. Two weeks later, on April 30, 2017, the sprouts looked like this.


A few days later:


On March 1, I planted the seedlings into the tower.

On May 6, the garden looked like this.


And today, June 7, it looks like this.


The chard isn’t faring well. But the kale, lettuces, snap peas and beans are thriving.


A cord runs from the tower under my garage door to an outlet with a timer. I filled the base of the tower with 20 gallons of water and the nutrients Juice+ provided. A pump inside the base pumps water up the center of the tower. The water then trickles down through holes to fall on the roots that grow inward from the seedlings that I planted in the cubbies. There is no dirt involved. You can check out Juice+’s website if you want a detailed diagram.

At first, I only needed to add water and more nutrients every other week. With the hot weather and larger, thirstier plants, I add water every five days or so. It takes about 5 more minutes to check the ph. Juice+ provided what I needed to take those measurement, too.

One lesson learned. I thought I was being very green one day by topping my tub with leftover bath water. The only soap I use is Dove. I took a ph reading and the number had plummeted. Bad idea.


Here is a photo of the greens I will chill for lunch.


A green “bon appetit.”