December 16, 2015

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Planting the Winter Urban Garden

Dateline: 2015-11-24

Time was of the essence. The trip to Half Moon Bay Nursery was a huge success and lots of plants were ready to be planted. However there was a kink in the works, by the end of the night we’d be off to our Thanksgiving holiday. Being gone for the better part of a week without getting our sproutlings in the ground sounded like a Bad Idea™ so the clock was ticking to start planting. Since there was no time to waste, I started planting first thing in the morning.

While I was planting in a hurry (and trying not to get my work attire too dirty), it was quite an exciting time. A few weeks prior the GreenStalk Garden System had arrived and it was finally going to be time to use it. GreenStalk was kind enough to provide the system to me gratis “take for a spin”. They sent me a 5 tier system, in black, with a spinner (get it? “Take it for a spin”? Snicker) which is a great addition for my small patio with limit sunlight space. As I mentioned in the previous post I had 30 pockets (6 per tier) to fill.

Between each layer is a smaller grey tub that they call a “watering disk”. Basically the center of GreenStalk is connect and water flows down from the top (from the reservoir) to each disk, then out to watch each pocket. The theory is that it’s fairly water efficient (as any excess drains down to the level below) and that you shouldn’t need to water every day. While that’s a nice feature (being that California is in a drought and all) the far cooler feature was 30 plants in 2 square feet of my patio. By the time I had to jet off to work in the morning, I had two tiers planted.

The evening work was a little trickier. It was cold, windy, poor lighting and I had even less time to work. This photo is of all the plants I had left to get in the ground. It became obvious with the most basic math that we had WAY too many plants. Many of these were trays with 6 individual plants which I decided would need to be planted 3 to a pocket. Even then I was going to be slightly over my pocket count. This is the price you pay for shopping with the “ooooo shiny” school of math.

By the time I finished it was quite late, quite cold, and very muddy. However it was a success! All the plants were in the GreenStalk. The picture sucks (again… lighting issues), but you can see every pocket is full up. Some plants got a little more banged up than I would have liked due to my haste, but I think all of them will survive that indignity. My biggest issue was over packing the GreenStalk tiers and deforming the plastic a little (which made it hard to set the tiers on top of each other).

Speaking of dirt, remember those quaint old days when I bought the adorable little packages of potting mix? Then remember when I really went crazy and started buying potting mix 2-cubic feet at a time? It’s a good thing because the GreenStalk Garden System requires 4 cubic feet for the 5 tiers. Between recycling some of the tomato soil and a bag in storage I was okay, but if you buy one of these, expect to use a LOT of dirt.

Overall I was quite pleased with my first adventure in getting dirty with the GSGS. My workflow was to fully prep and plant a tier before putting it on the stack. The tiers are heavy doing this, but manageable for me. I’m not sure if it was the “right” way but getting up the 4th and 5th tiers it made life much easier since the system is quite tall (and/or I’m short). As I previously noted the biggest challenge I had was over packing the tiers with dirt. Once it was all together it was “just add water” and life is good. In the next post I’ll check in on the Winter Garden during the day and provide a status update for the first two weeks.