Friday, June 4, 2010

The Great Wall of Lettuce

Creating the Great Wall of Lettuce has seen me through the dog days of Spring... and it's been a very cold Spring in the Silicon Valley.

The objective:
Use mostly recycled materials to create a very small footprint garden capable of producing enough greens for a family of 5 with low water requirements.

The design:
The space is 2 x 8 feet wide and gets sun from about 10am toabout 1-2 pm depending on the time of year... Hopefully that's just enough sun to keep the lettuce from bolting. Building it took about 3 days including a lot of trial and error. This is my 3rd design. The water flows from drippers into the top row and down to the lower rows. The runoff from the bottom row drains into a piece of vinyl gutter to water the raspberry bushes and peach tree. The vinyl gutter is ugly and truthfully, it wasn't recycled. I hope it doesn't leach plastic poison into the peaches. What do you think? Will the black pots leach BPAs into my lettuce?

The growing medium is based on Mel's mix updated for material availability in our area. The recipe is
  • 1/6 vermiculite,
  • 1/6 red lava rocks,
  • 1/6 chicken manure compost,
  • 1/6 worm castings,
  • 2/6 linga moss (a faux peat moss that's more environmentally friendly available at our local garden supply)
So far the project start-up cost has been about $75 not including cost of water. Probably more than the produce will be worth if you buy it at the store. If the project lives to see next year, the cost will be significantly less
  • $5 Chicken manure
  • $6 Linga moss
  • $20 Bamboo poles
  • $10 Gutter
  • $7 Vermiculite
  • $15-20 misc. drip system components
  • $5-10 seed packets

Status Update June 4, 2010
The lettuce seedlings emerge. As of today, 16 pots are planted with a variety of Mesculn, baby Romain, baby bok choy, mint, and rapini. 12 few bush beans planted at the bottom will soak up any water that splashes out of the gutter and provide more shade for the lettuce if they grow. This is all an experiment. It's based on hybred hydroponic gardening priciples with a dash of square foot gardening tossed in for good luck.

No comments: