In Hawai’i, there was always something growing and something being harvested on our property. Papayas, mangoes, pineapple, bananas, lilikoi, herbs, and some other stuff. It wasn’t a real garden in neat little rows that we were out weeding all of the time. This stuff can be found almost everywhere. People give you extra lychee or pineapples because they have too many at their house.
In Ireland, my grandparents had a garden and a greenhouse. My grandfather would grow rhubarb and when it was picked we would dip it in sugar and eat it raw. My grandmother would use mint from the garden to make a fresh mint sauce when we would have pork for dinner.
Here in Seattle, our outdoor growing season is fantastic and short without a greenhouse. Beside the curb, we made a raised garden bed and filled it with lettuce, kale, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, strawberries, and probably some more things.
Indoors we developed a wall mounted aquaponics setup that was cheap and fun to make.We built a chicken coop, but the landlord sold the house we were living in before we could get the chickens.Gardens have started to turn me on to homesteading. Living in a new house, we need to start the garden from scratch. I am thankful that I have the opportunity to have a garden.
Every homesteader needs a chicken coop. We had a shed that housed firewood despite our house not have any wood burning capabilities. I suppose there is an elevated fire pit outside that we use twice a year, but nothing that warrants half a cord of wood to be kept dry all year long. Here is the picture before:There were a couple of vegetable boxes that held some weeds and green onions, so we took them apart and moved them next to the street in the front of the house so that they might get some sun. Then we planted peas, kale, lettuce, and cilantro. Then we built a chicken coop. I have step by step pictures and one day I may put them all together. We re-did the roof so that we can collect rain water and have an automatic watering system. The feeder is also pretty cool, but I am going to make sure that it will work before I post the details about it.
Here is the picture after:There are only a few steps left before we get chickens. There is a lot of interest locally of raising chickens as well as vertical gardens.
I am damn near finished. There are always small details to fix, but the major stuff is finished. I built a shelf for the fish tank, made a light, and put it all together. The light was my first time playing with electrical things. It felt good to see the light come on without me getting electrocuted. Thanks to TomorrowsGarden.net for showing me how to save $100 by making my own light. It was about $15 to make the light and another $20 for both light bulbs. Typically, these reflectors are about $100 without the bulbs.
Here is the light after being mounted to the ceiling. Now we need more plants. The fish poop and fertilize the plants. I got the idea from other aquaponic companies, but really didn’t want to pay what they were charging for complete setups. Amanda hates all of the wires, so those will be hidden somehow and then I will really be finished… until we work on the next one beside it.
With all of my prerequisites for nursing school out of the way (hopefully), I find myself with most of my days free instead of studying anatomy, physiology, microbiology, etc. We also found this wall to be very bare. It used to have a few pictures of me with fish. I have always been a fan of hydroponics. I have had different types of food growing setups. This empty wall begged for something cool. A vertical hydroponic garden seems just the ticket. Oh yeah, and we want it to be as cheap as possible. We acquired a couple of pallets. We Amanda painted and stained them. The paint was a couple of samples from Home Depot ($3 each) and a mistint from Benjamin Moore ($5).
I built troughs for the water and clay balls that will hold the roots of the plants. We bought a 3 inch by 10 foot PVC pipe that we cut into about 17 inch segments. We used 3 inch PVC end caps and glued them with Christie’s Red Hot waterproof PVC glue. The pipe was under $10 and the end caps are about a buck a piece. Including the glue, we are up to about $35 so far.With the troughs glued, I drilled a few holes in each one so the nutrient rich water will drain from the top plant to the bottom ones. Then I made sure that they fit. It can’t be too snug, as we need our 1/4 inch microtubing to be able to go from the water pump in the reservoir (more on that later) up to the top plants.
Mounting the pallets by yourself can be tricky. Especially if you aren’t sure where the studs are in your house. I used drywall screws with the plastic receivers, but I am not sure if the metal screws made it inside because I couldn’t see anything as I was screwing the pallets into the wall. So far, it has held up!We also found that it is easy to paint the pallets when they are mounted on the wall.I have ordered a pump on Amazon and we are waiting for that to arrive and then we will find a reservoir. I will keep posting as the project progresses. Thanks for reading. Leave our comments below!