You're probably wondering why in the world I would have a bunch of filled containers on top of a beautiful rich soiled raised bed.
The answer? We are renters.
Specifically, we're renters who dream of being homeowners. We like to grow stuff, build stuff, and do stuff. In the house we've been living in for almost the past three years, we were lucky enough to have our landlords approve our plan to build three raised beds in our front yard last spring. 2012 was a wonderful year filled with an amazing garden that made all the passers by stop and gawk. We built the beds thinking we'd be living in the house for at least 5 years. Figuring that another 2 or 3 years were in our future, the investment of time and energy didn't seem like a waste.
It turns out, life happens and plans change - now we have to adapt. If things go as planned, our lovely little house will no longer be a good fit for us by September and it will time for us to move to a new home (we're crossing our fingers that we may find the means to buy this time).
So this brings us back to why we've got a bunch of containers sitting on top of a raised bed. Remember our garden plan for this coming spring and summer? We had everything ready to go, all of our seeds and plans to build the additional bed - when we got the news. One of our beds is going to need to be removed to replace a pipe (had we known there was a pipe we would not have built the bed in that location) and our future at the house is probably limited to about 6 more months.
The first bed (on the left) is the one that's going away. We're counting that one as simply a lost cause. It's still got some edibles growing and we'll let them continue on as long as possible.
The second bed (in the middle) is currently being used as our mini greenhouse to sprout all the leafy greens and herbs we had planned on planting in the first and new mini bed. Once they sprout and get a little heartier - we may plant some variety of extra seeds in the bed. However, our original plans for this bed to hold tomatoes, eggplant, and squash will be changed. All of those will now be grown in large containers so we can keep them mobile.
The third bed (on the right) will continue to be home to our two lovely rhubarb plants - which will be sorely missed. And even though we probably won't get to see them grow up all the way, we'll plant a few pumpkin seeds. Last year's Cinderella pumpkins were a huge hit in the neighborhood - so it would be nice to leave that as a parting gift.
Now lets move on to happier topics - things that are growing well now and a great new edible gardening adventure.
It appears as though our over winter bed experiment was not a total fail - so yes Seattle, you can grow edibles outside in the winter. Woo hoo! Our kohlrabi is a bit small but it's still pretty. The mustard greens are going bonkers. The Red Sails and Marvel of Four Seasons lettuce are both continuing to do well - although we're realizing we aren't the biggest fans of lettuce. Finally our three chive plants in a container that we ignored all winter are coming back quite nicely.
Now let me tell you about the newest addition to our edible garden project.
When I was at Alt Summit in January, I noticed a few tweets coming a company called Windowfarms and I got curious. So in checking out their website I was even more intrigued by the sleek design and great possibilities to grow things indoors in a non-permanent way (read: renter friendly). Utilizing twitter in it's best way, I got a chance to meet and talk to their CTO, Skylar Shepard.
Fast forward to late February/early March. I got a follow up e-mail from Sklyar asking if I'd like to try a Windowfarm for myself! Of course I jumped at the offer and I couldn't be happier with it! (Just FYI, Windowfarms offered the unit and plants to me at no cost but have not asked for any kind of promotion in return. I'm writing about my Windowfarming experience because it fits into our Edible Garden Project and because I want to.)
Setting up the system was actually quite simple with the great online instructions found on the website. I'll admit at first it befuddled me a bit, but when I finally wrapped my head around the mechanics of it - it wasn't so bad at all. Windowfarms are a hydroponic set up - so no soil is involved, just liquid nutrients, and some clay pellets to protect and hold the the plants in place. The watering system operates on a timer, so there's no need to remember to water (best part!).
We started our Windowfarm with the live plants we were sent; upland cress, sorel, and pea shoots. But we're also currently sprouting seeds to grow basil, mixed lettuce, and something a little crazy; habanero peppers for a second round of plants.
Esthetically speaking, I love the slim design and greenery that the Windowfarm brings to our living room. Super pretty and super clean. It's way better than the first hydroponic growing system I had about six years ago - the Aero Garden.
So there's my March 2013 Edible Garden Project update. It was a bit of a doozy huh! Even with all the change and turmoil, I'm sure everything will work out in the end. But it sure does feel better to get it all out here and I have to say that the Windowfarm came just at the right time to supplement our transitional edible gardening needs.