Last year, in March of 2020 when Covid-19 hit the US and businesses started shutting down, it started making a lot of sense to start trying to grow food at home. I had experimented with hydroponics in the past and had some success so that’s where I started. Unfortunately, it didn’t end up going all that well. The old hydroponics light I had wasn’t super powerful so the plants were a little leggy and I suspected growing slower than they should. I also picked containers that were too small so once the plants got bigger they would go through the water in the reservoir really quick. This wouldn’t have really been a problem, but it takes time to measure out new nutrient solution to refill them and I just didn’t keep on top of it enough.
At around the same time my wife and I also decided we wanted to try growing food in our backyard as well. This solved both of my problems with hydroponics. I wouldn’t have to go buy fancy (and expensive) lights for the hydroponic plants inside, and I wouldn’t have to be constantly mixing up nutrient solution. Here’s what we ended up with.
Five raised beds that were 4 ft x 8 ft with 12 inch tall walls filled with a compost vegetable mix and surrounded with mulch from a local company that dumped all the dirt and mulch on our driveway.
The first season went okay…
We were able to grow a good variety of plants and we even were able to get seeds from store bought roma tomatoes and dried black, kidney, and pinto beans to grow. The plants didn’t grow very big though and they didn’t produce a lot. My theory is we started too late in the season. By the time we had all the raised beds setup and ready to plant it was around mid April. In Texas, I think that just didn’t leave enough time for the plants to grow before the scorching summer sun.
This year we’re starting again. My wife has done tons of research in permaculture, we purchased lots of new seeds, we have a planting calendar for the spring and have started 96 pods of seeds inside so we can be ready to transplant outside once we’re past our last frost date. We’re also extending our raised beds and adding more planting areas around some trees we planted this winter.
I’m hoping this year we’ll be more self sustaining and able to skip a few deliveries/curbside pickups from the grocery store.