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Gardening Naked?

Filed in Gardening, hydroponics, Organic vegetables | Posted by Brenda Watson on 05/06/2016


Gardening in Florida - brendawatson.com

Gardening naked. I have to be honest, it never occurred to me. Just the idea of bug bites where you normally would never get them defeats my enthusiasm.  I can imagine that you’d definitely want to stock up on natural insect repellent!  I guess that’s what makes life so interesting – people express such different ideas!

I was reading in our local paper that Saturday is World Naked Gardening Day – you can read more about that here. This celebration marks its 12th year – birthed in 2005 in Seattle by a philosophy teacher named Mark Storey. He taught social justice at Bellevue College and talked about civic activism with his students. Civic activism is mainly noted for the misery it causes in actions like roadblocks and strikes. He was interested in doing something that would make people smile and was curious if doing something good together could actually effect change.

After polling people on activities they enjoy, or dream of doing naked (bedroom pursuits notwithstanding), he found that swimming naked came in first. Interestingly, gardening naked came in second. World Naked Gardening Day was born!

Quoting Mark “Anything that makes the world more food-friendly or flower-pretty and helps get people comfortable with their bodies is good. We wanted to make it fun; no one cares how you do it and no one owns it. You can pot plants naked in your Manhattan kitchen or rake leaves in your back yard. Then tell people about it.”

Admit it, you’re smiling, so Mark’s project is a success! As for gardening naked, I really don’t think it’s my style, but to each his or her own.

Here at Vital Planet we are gardening in a much different way. Florida offers sandy soil and lots of insects (as mentioned previously), along with beautiful beaches and sunshine. Let’s just say we’re not known for ease in gardening. So we’ve decided to give our veggies the best opportunity they can have for nourishment using hydroponics.

With the help of our friends at Urban Oasis Farm we are expanding our garden – to farm proportions! Yesterday we were planting – beans, parsley, lettuces, cucumbers, tomatillos – the list continues (with our clothes on).

It was a beautiful spring Florida day – probably one of the last relatively cool ones we will enjoy. Starting some crops from seeds as well as others from starter plants, we hope soon to be gathering veggies from our garden for lunch and dinner on a daily basis.

Our goal is to offer an example of growing your own food in the community. In the future we may even be able to water the plants using water we filter directly from the pond behind our building! We will be able to provide fresh produce for all our employees, their families and beyond.

As our farm is located along a public bicycle path, like Mark, we too hope to make people smile as they pass by. Gentle, graceful civic activism. Naked or clothed, lets garden together!

Produce Easy Produce Anywhere

Filed in Gardening, General, Organic vegetables | Posted by Brenda Watson on 04/08/2016


Produce kale! - brendawatson.com

Today is a day for inspiration! I’m happy to share some really uplifting and heart-opening information with you about great things happening in the world of gardening and fresh produce.

In the resort town of Jackson, Wyoming two visionary women are creating not only a wonderful opportunity for the town but also a very large amount of organic produce. Veggies are a personal favorite of mine, as you know!

This exciting project began eight years ago when Penny McBride and Nona Yehia met at a party. Over time, the business Vertical Harvest was co-created.

Vertical Harvest uses hydroponic farming methods to grow various veggies in the harsh Wyoming winters, and all year round. The greenhouse itself is a three-story structure that has been constructed on a 4,500 square-foot downtown lot. Central to this greenhouse’s ability to produce a bounty of veggies is their use of the relatively new practice called vertical farming.

Construction presented some unforeseen issues, as always seems to happen when new designs are introduced. Overall, after much discussion with the town council and governmental agencies, it’s so wonderful to know that by early May greens will be growing and soon thereafter, the bountiful harvest will be sold to local grocery stores, restaurants and also in a retail shop. The perfect additional piece to this story is that the customized employment model chosen allows for 15 people with disabilities to work and be truly productive. What a worthwhile endeavor!

Of course, hydroponic growing is nothing new to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. It’s astounding to tour the Land Pavilion there and see firsthand the gardens they’ve created and the food they constantly produce. Besides providing vegetables for the restaurants on site, there is ongoing research into vegetable species and growing practices and also wonderful opportunities available for those passionate about growing to intern in this fascinating place.

I clearly understand the value and joy of hydroponic gardening. I’ve been involved with two different systems myself for a number of years now.

Our biggest producer is this stackable vertical system, which uses coconut coir (instead of dirt) to stabilize the root system. The nutrient solution is provided to the plants a few times daily through a timer system. Next weekend we’re moving it to Vital Planet Company Headquarters so everyone here can enjoy the grow experience, and the yummy veggies. We’ll just walk outside and pick our salad for lunch!

We also have a Tower Garden. It’s a different type of system that allows the roots of the various plants to hang in midair. The roots are misted regularly throughout the day and night. This particular system was invented by a gentleman who had previously managed the hydroponic gardens at Disney. The plants are so vibrant and the root system so interesting that we’ve even used them as centerpieces at big events in the past.

Hydroponic growing insures that the plants are getting the nutrition they need to provide optimal vibrancy, and secondarily, the best nutrition for us. The phrase “Beyond Organic” has been used. That’s really a blessing for us, considering the soil here in Florida is mostly sand. And I must say, our hydroponic veggies are extremely delicious and beautiful!

Recently I came across a different type of tower system, which I’m sure at some point in the future we’ll try too. To me, the most appealing aspect of this grow system is sustainability. It seems to require little maintenance and makes use of worms and your kitchen scraps to create compost and self-fertilize. And no electricity is required!

So if you find any of this information interesting, I encourage you to go for it! It’s a truly wonderful experience for the family to walk outside and gather dinner from your own patio or backyard – even right in the city!