Hallie: Hello and welcome to One to Grow On. A show where we dig into questions about agriculture and try to understand how food production impacts us and our world. My name is Hallie Casey and I studied and currently work in agriculture.
Chris: I’m Chris Casey, Hallie’s dad. Each episode we pick an area of agriculture or food production and this week we’re talking about vegetable gardening.
Hallie: This week I wanted to talk about vegetable gardening. I have gotten many more requests in this spring than I ever have before from friends and acquaintances and family wanting advice on how to start a vegetable garden.
Chris: Gee, I wonder why that is.
Hallie: They’ve got time on their hands and vegetable gardening is super fun, so I thought we could spend a little bit of time talking about what makes a vegetable garden a vegetable garden, some of the history about it and some of my top tips, some of the success factors on how to vegetable garden. Dad, have you ever vegetable gardened?
Chris: You know my mom was a gardener, an avid gardener.
Hallie: I did hear that once you lawn mowed her artichokes. That’s kind of like vegetable gardening.
Chris: I mean she put it in the middle of the yard.
Chris: Two teenage me artichoke leaves look a lot like dandelion leaves, all right? I don’t know why anyone wants to plant an artichoke in their yard. Anyway, I do remember growing baby corn once and that was kind of fun. But for the most part, every time my mom tried to get me to help her in the garden, it just seemed like a whole lot of work that I didn’t want to do.
Hallie: Yes, it is work. It does take effort. That’s true.
Chris: Why do you want to put all that effort in?
Hallie: For fun and enjoyment.
Chris: Is it fun though? Is it really?
Chris: Okay. It does seem kind of peaceful.
You know your mom and I had a garden plot in the community garden once and we didn’t use it a lot but when we, did we did get some delicious food from it.
Hallie: Right. That’s a big benefit is the food is drastically better. I have a short list of the vegetables and fruits that are just a whole different thing if you get them garden fresh or farm fresh versus if you get them from the store like peaches, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes stuff like that where it’s drastically better.
Chris: It seems like some of it could be and some of the stuff I have had is that was one of the times where you would pick up the tomatoes and you would just eat the tomatoes like an apple and we thought you were crazy but you really liked tomatoes.
Hallie: They’re so good. Have you ever had a garden fresh strawberry?
Chris: Yeah, some little tiny ones that were pretty good.
Hallie: That stuff will blow your mind. It’s insane. It’s like the best food in the world.
Chris: Good stuff indeed. That’s what got Shepherd Book onto Serenity.
Hallie: True. Very true. Except I don’t know how garden fresh that strawberry was but still true.
Chris: Look everyone, she has trouble with the Star Trek and Star Wars reference.
But she remembers the Firefly references, so go me.
Hallie: [Laughs]. Dad, they were like nine episodes and stuff that I had to keep track.
Hallie: What I want to know and talk about first is when people started vegetable gardening.
Chris: Isn’t that the dawn of agriculture?
Hallie: Yeah, that’s the hard thing. When you talk about histories of gardening and histories of agriculture, academically they get conflated a lot of as this is the same thing. Largely, they are. It’s all about people growing their own food. The difference from what I see in the distinction I’m going to draw for the purposes of this episode is agriculture is really more about growing food for a larger need for economic profit, whether that’s from specific profit or from trade, whereas a home garden is negligible economic impact. It’s typically just for home consumption. That’s kind of the distinction I am going to be drawing for this episode.
Chris: It’s food for fun, kind of like entertainment. Kind of like Benihana.
Hallie: Not necessarily really. You can have a vegetable garden to feed your family and we’re going to talk about that, but you’re not growing it to support yourself and to make money off of it basically.
Chris: Got it. All right.
Hallie: Again, people have been gardening for a long time on account of needing food. I can’t go into all of the histories of gardening throughout all of the world, so I’m going to talk specifically about the US and a lot of US history is informed by British history and British culture. We’re also going to be talking about the UK. This is a very white Western look at the history of gardening. But we don’t have infinite time on this episode. Maybe we can do more histories of gardening from other places in the world in other episodes.
Chris: I really look forward to that.
Hallie: A vegetable garden also called a vegetable patch or a kitchen garden or a potager.
Chris: A what? A potager?
Hallie: I’m pretty sure that’s how it’s pronounced. I’m going to be honest, I had not read that word in this context until researching for this episode, so I could be pronouncing it wrong.
Chris: I don’t feel like I’ve ever read that word and now I think it’s a great word that should be used more.
Hallie: Yeah, it’s a lovely, lovely little word if it’s pronounced potager.
It’s probably good if you pronounce it a different way too.
Chris: I don’t want a vegetable garden. I want to put a potager.
Hallie: Maybe it’s potager today.
Chris: Oh, well then I don’t want one of those.
Hallie: Or a potager.
Chris: Definitely not.
Hallie: [Laughs]. People have been gardening for a long time, but in the 1790s in the UK or I guess at that point just England after a war broke out with France, there was widespread food scarcity and so the allotment movement began. Here in the US we call them community gardens. In England they call them allotment. The government created land specifically for people to use as a vegetable garden in a community garden style. That was a branch from agricultural policy at the time in the 1790s. It wasn’t really seen as distinct from agricultural policy, although as allotment policy went on in the UK into the 1800s that was seen as a separate thing as food became more readily available and allotments became more of a recreational activity and not so much about food access.
Chris: It almost sounds like so many things come out of extension.
It almost feels like shades of that where like there’s this agricultural policy and like, oh, we need to get more people involved, so hey, let’s go create a little thing.
Hallie: There was not enough food. There was scarcity from the war and so they said, “Okay, well if we give people who don’t currently have access to land some area of land that they can farm, then they can grow their own food.” It was really built out of response to this specific policy and then from there it became a more popular thing and food access became less of an issue until it became more of a recreational policy.
Chris: Got it.
Hallie: It also became in the later 1800s in England much more something for the gentry to do. It became much more popular for the upper-class to have walled vegetable gardens or decorative vegetable gardens or kitchen gardens off of their manner or something like that. Not often something that they would tend to themselves. But Queen Victoria had a very large vegetable garden and it just became something that was more seen as a status symbol for people with land to be able to have garden fresh vegetables and that also trickled over to the US as well and that became more of a thing as US was taking influence from that England Victorian culture.
Chris: Did any of them have a secret garden?
Hallie: Probably. I think that book was written in the early 1900s, so it’s probably influenced by this walled garden movement.
Chris: Just about every piece of British literature that I’ve seen her read there’s a gardener involved somewhere somehow.
Hallie: Right. One thing that I’m not really including in this episode is the larger idea of a captive state and a landscape garden and topiary and mazes and things like that that were a bit a bigger influence in that land culture of the upper echelons of the Victorian England.
Chris: Got it. Okay.
Hallie: [Inaudible] specifically vegetable gardens, but gardens and keeping them generally was a huge thing.
Chris: In these fancy walled gardens and later in these I guess sort of recreational public gardens, what kind of vegetables did these people like to grow?
Hallie: Well, there was a lot of different things, a lot of stuff that we still grow today. Fruit trees were very popular. There is a technique of growing fruit trees where you basically prune them back to a wall so they’re kind of trimmed along a wall and that was very popular at the time with these walled gardens. But of course, potatoes and onions and a lot of the vegetables that we eat today, but there also were a lot of vegetables that we don’t know about today that were just lost whether they were regionally native. They’re from that area and now we don’t eat them.
They’re not in the cultural menu I guess of fruits and vegetables that are known or if they were just some specific cultivar variety that is no longer grown and so we don’t know about it. When I was doing research for this episode, there were a couple of examples of like here’s a weird kind of garlic that had its own name and was considered a separate vegetable. But it was grown then and now we don’t even know about it. We’ve never heard of this word before. We lost a lot of those really unique vegetables.
Chris: Oh, I don’t like losing food. That’s makes me sad.
Hallie: Luckily, there are some really cool botanical gardens that are doing great preservation work and if people wanted them, we can probably have a revitalization effort for some of these weirdo garlics out there.
Chris: Okay. It was in the UK and it was later also in the US.
Hallie: In 1902, the US had its first school garden which was in hell’s kitchen in New York. Another kind of different thing when considering vegetable gardening is that urban versus rural. For a lot of rural people throughout history, it’s been very common to have a small garden because maybe it’s harder to get into town, but between the 1910s and the 1930s here in the US we had the great migration where a lot of rural black folks moved up into urban cities up in the North to escape the Jim Crow South and they brought gardening with them and urban vegetable gardening became a part of that culture up in the North for many African American communities in these urban cities.
Later on in the early 1900s, we had World War 1 and food again became an issue both here in the US and in England, so we had things like victory gardens which were also called war gardens, which basically there was less food and so the government was creating propaganda to encourage people to garden so that food could be sent overseas to soldiers for soldiers rations.
Chris: Do you remember watching VeggieTales?
Chris: You remember the episode where they was vegetables fighting each other?
Hallie: That was a lot of the episodes, Dad. I feel like the premise of VeggieTales.
Chris: But they weren’t just arguing. It was like a whole battle. I don’t remember the whole thing.
Hallie: [Inaudible] episode.
Chris: Oh, that could be, but you’ve said war garden and it makes me think of that.
Hallie: Yes, that’s exactly what I want you to picture. Now, it was pretty much just like a community garden. Municipalities would put land aside for specifically community gardens for people to access so they could grow their own food.
In England, allotment land tripled which is like a lot. It’s huge. Then from there we went into the great depression and gardening again was a food access issue and from there, a few decades later, we had the World War II. Again, food access was an issue as food was once again scarce as we had this big warfare and so victory gardens researched from there. But after that, there was still gardens. There was not any state sponsored propaganda and lawn culture in suburbia here in the US became much more in Vogue and so you saw fewer gardens. It was just less common. Not that they disappeared entirely. Lots of people had vegetable gardens, but ever since the 2000s, it’s become a little bit more popular and we’ve seen a dramatic rise in home gardening and home food production as people think more about climate change and the environmental impact of their food and the ways that they eat.
Chris: What kind of food did they grow here? I imagined it’s mostly a lot of the same stuff like onions, potatoes, garlic, leafy greens.
Hallie: In which timeframe?
Chris: Well, you just went through half of the 20th century.
Hallie: I did.
Chris: Let’s cover that whole thing. I guess it’s all good staples that are relatively easy to grow.
Hallie: It’s very similar to what we were talking about earlier. We see a lot of the same things. We see a lot of good staples, but we did lose a lot of those specific varieties, what we call like heirloom varieties that were common and they were bred for specific regions or micro regions. Even you would have these heirloom varieties that would do really, really well in just this one part of Central Texas or just this one part of Northern Ohio or something like that.
Chris: Okay. Cool.
Hallie: We did see a loss in that. Beyond that, pretty much vegetables were popular depending on where you were geographically and what was culturally relevant to you. That definitely influenced how people grew and just what the gardeners preference are. That’s one of the hugest factors in how people garden is just what the gardeners want to eat.
Chris: Nowadays, obviously it’s not as much of a food access issue. Although I imagine for some people, maybe it is, but it sounds like it’s maybe getting a little bit more popular.
Hallie: Yeah, for sure and it’s much more of like an awareness issue. People are thinking about the nutrition content of their food. If you eat fresher foods, then it can have a higher nutrition and thinking about the carbon footprint of your food that you buy at the grocery store versus what you can buy at your house. I think that’s much more the focus of gardening we see now according to the National Gardening Survey, that 18 to 34 year olds account for 29% of all gardening households, which is huge. That’s a higher percentage than we saw in previous generations. I think young people are getting involved, they’re getting interested because they are aware.
Chris: Well, that’s awesome. Awareness is good. Awareness if you know your situation, what you need, where you are and what I’m aware of right now is that it’s time for a break.
Hallie: A break.
Chris: Welcome to the break. Listener, we would love it if you would take this podcast and while you’re discussing podcast with your podcast listening friends or your non podcast listening friends, tell them about this podcast. Say, “Hey friend, I love this podcast and I think you’ll love this too” because we think if you love this podcast, then they will also love this podcast. Spread it as you would spread seeds in your garden.
Hallie: Maybe you’re talking about what a superfood is. Maybe you’re talking about how to start a vegetable garden.
Chris: Maybe you’re talking about confusing Star Wars and Star Trek References.
Hallie: [Laughs]. We really, really love making this show and we’re trying to make it for the people who are also interested in these ideas and these conversations.
We would really appreciate it if you shared it out. We don’t pay for any advertising or anything for this show, and so word of mouth is really the only way that we’re growing and we would just love to have more people here who can contribute to the conversation and who can have fun with us here in this little podcast community that we’re trying to build.
Chris: Honestly, I hope we never pay for advertising.
Hallie: Who knows? I could totally see us getting a billboard. Let’s get a billboard along the highway.
Chris: Oh, there you go.
Hallie: Do you want food? Do you eat food? Check out this podcast. Just a picture of me with like two thumbs up like, hey.
Chris: An extra shout out to our patron listeners, especially to our starfruit patrons, Lindsay, Vikram, Mama Casey, Patrick and Shianne.
Hallie: To our newest patron, Andrew, thank you so much for joining us.
Chris: Hello, Andrew. Welcome.
Hallie: We’re really thanking you for coming to join us over on the Patreon.
Chris: All right. Back to the episode.
Hallie: Dad, do you have a nature fact for us?
Chris: I do have a nature fact for you. Pollinators can pollinate vegetable gardens, can they not?
Hallie: They indeed can.
Chris: Common pollinator is the bee.
Chris: An animal that is frequently mentioned in conjunction with bees are birds. The word that has bird in it is Thunderbird and the Thunderbirds are who flew over my house today and it was awesome.
Hallie: [Laughs]. Very good.
Chris: It was cool. It was a nice little fly over San Antonio and Austin.
Hallie: Dad, real quick. For non-arrow minded friends, can you explain what a Thunderbird is?
Chris: Okay, so the Thunderbirds are a group of pilots in the air force that fly fighter jets for show basically. They are some of the best pilots in the air force and it’s a nice job after a long career of flying fighter jets and they do stunts and they do fly overs and they were doing a flyover of San Antonio in Austin in honor of healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic. There’s issues with the cost associated with this. Part of the reason the Thunderbirds exist for the air force and a similar group the Blue Angels for the Navy is for like recruiting and promotion and stuff like that, so whatever. Sure there’s a carbon footprint, but man, when a group of fighter jets fly over your house, it is awesome.
Hallie: Tara tarara nature fact.
Chris: I hope other people got to see them.
Hallie: They were extremely loud. Do you want to start a vegetable garden?
Chris: Oh, hold on there cowboy. I bet someone wants to start a vegetable garden. Sometimes I think about starting a vegetable garden.
Hallie: Well, think about it. For this exercise, we’re going to talk through what it takes.
Chris: Okay. Do I even have a spot where I could do a vegetable garden? I don’t know.
Hallie: You absolutely do.
Hallie: I know because mom has grown vegetables at your house.
Hallie: Yes, definitely.
Chris: Not that I’ve eaten. Maybe out there.
Hallie: Oh my gosh. She did that last year.
Chris: She listens to the podcast. I’m sure I’ll hear about this.
Hallie: I’m sure you will.
Chris: All right.
Hallie: The key factors in figuring out what you can grow in a vegetable garden are one temperature, the number of cold days, the number of super, super hot days that you get because you can’t really do a ton with that. You can if you want to build out some infrastructure and have like a little greenhouse or something like that, but that’s the key factor. Another key factor is how much sun that area gets. You can’t really do a lot if an area does not get a lot of sun. You could get some utility lamp but who wants to do that and also tons of energy. Then the third key factor is your preference. Those are like the three things that are kind of hard to address and change.
Chris: Are those in that order on purpose?
Hallie: No, not really. They’re all important. I would probably start with preference. I would probably start with what is it that you’re interested in growing and then thinking about how the temperature and the light situation in what you have affects what you can grow. You also do want to consider your soil. It is possible to grow without soil, right? If you’re in a container or something like that, you’re probably going to be amending your soil regardless. If you’re doing an in ground bed, you will need to be thinking about what my soil is, but you are going to be amending it. It is a factor but it’s possible to work around it. I mentioned in ground gardens, that’s basically where you put plants directly into the ground. You’re still going to be doing things like digging it up and amending the garden and tilling and stuff like that, but you have other types of gardens.
Chris: When you say amend the garden, do you mean adding compost, adding nitrogen or doing what those things?
Hallie: Yeah, pretty much adding compost mostly is what I mean.
Chris: All right.
Hallie: You want to amend your soil if you’re doing an in ground bed because it’s very helpful to have compost that’s adding microbial life and adding organic matter, which can increase your water holding capacity. You could also do a raised bed garden, so this is slightly up above the ground. You can, if you want, dig down into the ground. But one of the big benefits of having a raised bed is that you usually don’t have to till down into the dirt very far. You’re adding six inches an inch or six inches a foot, two feet to your garden bed and so you’re not having to do the work of digging it out. But that also means that you’re having to bring more dirt in and you’re having to bring in potting soil or garden door or whatever it is that you’re using in order to fill up this box. It can be a little bit more expensive.
Chris: Okay. You have to have the box or build the box in the first place, which sounds like even more work.
Hallie: I would say getting the dirt is harder. Building a box, you just go to Home Depot, you get four pieces of wood and you nail them together.
Hallie: One for each side. It’s a square.
Chris: You don’t need a piece of wood on the bottom?
Hallie: No, you don’t want a piece of wood on the bottom.
Chris: Oh, so you’re just building dirt up higher basically.
Hallie: Pretty much.
Chris: Okay, cool.
Hallie: You can also do container gardening, which is not open to the ground and it’s really helpful if you have a balcony or a deck or something like that where you want to just put something out but you don’t want to deal with the actual soil and do something larger or if you’re in an apartment and you don’t have a lot of space. It’s also helpful if you want to do something that your temperature of your region might not really be as accommodating too. Like I’ve done strawberries before in places where it might’ve been too hot to do strawberries, but I can just pull them in on like the really, really hot days and then put them back out later.
Chris: Because you’re a wizard.
Hallie: Because I did a pot and I can put it in a pot and then it’s all good.
Chris: Oh, okay. It’s like a potted plant. I thought I was going to ask if it was like hydroponics.
Hallie: No, just a potted plant.
Chris: You store soil. I’s just not the ground.
Hallie: It’s not really what we call soil. It’s what we call soilless media. That would be like potting soil, which is 100% organic matter. That’s like a pot mass or coconut core, which is the outside of the coconut or something like that. That’s like an alternative medium that doesn’t really have any minerals in it.
Chris: It’s called potting soil, but it’s not soil.
Hallie: It’s not. It’s soilless.
Chris: Okay. I feel like maybe we talked about this in our soil episode. But this is getting too deep in the weeds for me, so to speak.
Hallie: I think we did, but remember we talked about soil and most of it is just broken down rock. A potting plant doesn’t have any broken down rock. It just has broken down plants.
Chris: I see.
Hallie: It’s much lighter because it’s like just this light, fluffy carbon stuff, which is nice, so it’s really a lot easier to move. It’s cheaper. A lot of benefits to using potting soil. You can also do an indoor garden, which would be something like having container pots put inside or I’ve seen spice walls before where people have a little container by their kitchen if they have a window and you can just put all your little herbs and grow little herbs.
Chris: But you have to have a window with sun.
Hallie: Or buy a lamp from Home Depot or [inaudible] or wherever.
Chris: Okay. If it does the job. Sure.
Hallie: Another type is permaculture. This is a type of in ground planting where you’re planting directly in the ground, but the idea is that you’re planting it to be a more permanent landscape. Usually, it’s not in rows like a typical vegetable garden and typically you’re trying to build it out to be longer lasting. It typically includes fruit trees or fruit vines and the beds that you have typically don’t get tilled every year. It’s like a landscape as opposed to just a vegetable garden.
Chris: It’s like part of the decor almost.
Hallie: For sure. Another type of garden, the last one I’m going to talk about is a hoop house. This one is the most amount of infrastructure of any of the ones on my list. This one we did a lot when I was living in New Mexico because it gets really, really cold in New Mexico. You have a very, very short summer season, so it gets cold really quick and then it stays cold for a long time. Having a hoop house, which is basically what we did is we bought really long PVC pipes and then we put like steaks of rebar in the ground and then we would bend the PVC pipe in like a U shape over it. Then we would just do that like 10 times and then put a tarp over it, basically like a see-through plastic so that the light could get in. But basically it was much warmer inside of this little house that you built.
Chris: Now, just as an extra weird little piece of trivia for the people that know us, a hoop house has nothing to do with a hoopy house, nor is it where your username on Discord comes from.
Hallie: It is not where my username comes from. My internet username is Nat Hoopy, which is a Douglas Adams joke that is extremely obscure and I thought it was really clever at 15 for thinking of it.
Chris: For a 15 year old, it was pretty dang clever I got to say.
Hallie: Thank you very much.
Chris: I was impressed. You have all of these options. They all require sun and they all require water I’m guessing.
Hallie: Well, they don’t all require sun, right? There are famously a lot of people who grow plants indoors with no sun. You can just get a light bulb. You need some kind of UV radiation.
Chris: They get busted by the FDA. No, the DEA.
Hallie: You can deal with whatever you want. Cannabis is not the only thing that can grow with lamps. Plants just use sunlight for the photon energy to convert CO2 and water into starches and so they can get that energy from tons of stuff including just plain old lamps. If you want to get one that’s kind of higher voltage and you can find more information depending on what plant you’re growing, just so that it’s going to be giving off more light. LEDs are also really popular for this because they don’t get as hot, which can also damage a plant. But you can grow stuff inside without any sun.
Chris: All right. There are some alternatives, but there are no water alternatives.
Hallie: Correct. You have different options with irrigation. You have drip irrigation, which basically uses less water per amount of food. It’s like an efficiency question that’s very popular with a lot of people because water bills can get high if you’re watering a garden as well as people living in a house.
Chris: That makes sense. Got to water the people.
Hallie: You can also have some issues with drip irrigation just because you’re putting the water right at the base of the plant. If you have something like a root vegetable, then sometimes your root vegetables turn out looking kind of weird because they’re contorting themselves to grow directly where that water is as opposed to something like a sprinkler where all of the ground is getting saturated, so the taproot can just grow in the natural way. If that makes sense.
Chris: I feel like I’ve seen some funky looking carrots and maybe this is why.
Hallie: Well, there’s a lot of reasons to have funky looking carrots. Maybe there was a rock in the way and so it had to grow around a rock or something like that.
Chris: No, I have no idea.
Hallie: Maybe the dirt was super constricted and so it was just growing weird. There’s tons of reasons. Sprinklers are a good option for something like root vegetables if you want. They can also be a good option if you have a lovely ground cover. If you have a permaculture setup, you can just sprinkler it if it’s something that’s maybe not fully grown in and you’re trying to encourage it. Sprinklers are also often used for leafy vegetables because leafy vegetables can be super tender. Stuff like lettuce and arugala are prone to overheating, but they’re also like summer vegetables. Sprinting them with a bit of water during the day can help cool them off.
Chris: Oh, nice. Like a nice little mister on your skin.
Hallie: Exactly. People love it. Plants love it. It’s great. You can also have something called subsurface irrigation, which is pretty cool. I’ve used this in one form, which is called the olla, which is spelled O-L-L-A. It’s a Spanish word. An olla is basically like a terracotta pot that’s unglazed so it’s still permeable, right? There’s no hole at the bottom. It’s just a complete pot and so you bury it with just the top out of the soil and you fill it with water and then you cover the top. Because the clay is permeable, the soil matrix has a higher water potential than the pot of water and so the water moves out into the soil matrix. I’m pretty sure I got that correct. But I could be mixing it up.
Chris: You bury the pot on top of where you plant your seeds?
Hallie: Right next to it basically.
Chris: A little watering pot. That’s great.
Hallie: It’s like a little watering pot. It’s great. Usually, you’ll want to water your plants in for the first couple of weeks while they’re getting used to the olla because they don’t always know where it is and so it’s kind of off to the side and they have to kind of grow towards it to like pull the liquid out of it to pull the water through the pot. If I’m using an olla that I usually overhead irrigate for the first couple of weeks in addition to doing the olla occasionally just so they don’t get too wilted until they figure out where the olla is.
Hallie: You can also do rainwater collection, which is great for drip irrigation. You can use it for olla and sprinklers and stuff too, but it’s really easy to use for drip irrigation because you just can use gravity because you’re not needing a lot of pressure to get the water out of the little drip emitters. I think that you just need to put your rainwater collection tank something like a foot and a half up above where the drip emitters are going to be then they just submit on their own. You don’t need any kind of pump or anything like that.
Chris: Nice. Even though presumably it just rained.
Hallie: You could just turn it off and catch the water and then in three days when it hadn’t just rained, then you could turn it on and use the tank.
Chris: Three days later after a rain you’d need to water again that soon.
Hallie: It depends on what you’re growing. You could keep its water in the tank. You can keep it for however long you want.
Chris: Fair enough. All right. Well, cool. Is that all about water?
Hallie: That’s my water stuff. The steps for actually planting you can either direct seed or you can transplant direct seeding where you put a seed in a pot or in the dirt or in a raised bed.
It’s going to be cheaper but it can be less likely that you actually get a plant because when you’re transplanting you see the plant, you know you have the plant. When you’re direct seeding, not all the seeds will grow.
Chris: That makes sense.
Hallie: It can also be hard if you have a shorter season. When I was in New Mexico, we would also often use transplants because you’re a month ahead. It takes like a month less to get the food at the end than if you’re direct seeding because you’d have to wait for it to grow from the seed versus just using the transplant.
Chris: Wait a little longer for that extra little germination to take place. Not germination but the little sprouting.
Hallie: You got it. [Laughs].
Chris: I got it.
Hallie: You have to think about your seed spacing and some other stuff, but usually the seed packet has a ton of very helpful information in terms of how deep to plant the seeds, how far apart to plant the seeds. All of that information should be on your seed packet. You can also opt for a transplant. If you opt for a transplant, it’s going to be more expensive, but you know that you have a plant for sure. If you’re doing a transplant, once you plant it, you’ll want to water it in. Just watering it so that it’s kind of nice. It’s like welcome to your new home little plant. Here’s some water for you. You’ll be happy here. You always want to do that right away. Otherwise the plant can just get really dried out and have a little bit of shock and it might not make it.
Chris: Make it feel at home.
Hallie: You can also grow your own transplants in your own house if you want. You can do this with little egg cartons. You can buy a plug trays, you can use whatever, but you can just put a little seed in a little bit of potting soil and you mist it once a day or twice a day, you put it near a sunny window or you get a light so that the little guys grow. Once they’re tall enough, then you want to start putting them out for a couple of hours each day increasingly. That’s just so that they get used to things like wind because otherwise if they’re inside and then you just plant them in the garden, then it’s really easy for their stems to break because they haven’t had to build up any extra cellulose to be sturdy or anything like that. That process is called hardening off. You just put them out gradually more each day and they just get stronger and stronger and then you’re ready to plant them.
Chris: Wow. I had no idea plants were so complicated like that.
Hallie: That’s all of the notes I took. Do you have any questions?
Chris: All right.
When I was a teenager, your grandmother made me dig holes for her tomatoes with a pickaxe because it was in Dripping Springs and there was limestone a few inches down and so I had to bust holes through the limestone. Was that actually necessary?
Hallie: She could have built a raised bed, but if she wanted to go in ground, yeah.
Chris: Oh, okay. She wasn’t just making me do work.
Hallie: No, out towards Dripping Springs there is a lot of limestone and there’s two inches of topsoil and then it just goes straight down to what we call parent material, which is rocks. What she was doing was because limestone is a softer rock, she was just carving it out so that she could add in compost and gardening soil and these other things as an amendment.
Chris: Just super quick, do people need to worry about pest mitigation?
Hallie: Everyone likes vegetables including pests so you will get them. It will very much depend on where you are in the world and what vegetables you’re growing. It might be something that you have to think about. If you’re growing indoor plants, it’s going to be less of an issue than if you growing outdoor plants. But everyone should at least do a cursory Google to see what are the biggest pest problems for gardeners in my area so you can kind of be prepared, but it’s all a learning experience and it’s all about figuring out what pests are in your area and what they look like.
Chris: I’ve got one last question. I’ve been saving this one for last specifically. I pretty sure this was you that I’ve either heard say or seen posts about it on social media, which is something along the lines of growing your own food is a radical act. Was that you that said it and if so, could you comment on that a little bit?
Hallie: I have definitely said that in the past. I think it is a radical act. I think that thinking about how our basic needs are so separated from how we actually operate in terms of like food and water and things like that that are really based and how they’re kind of built within capitalism and this corporate system that’s kind of really, really decentralized and includes so many players. We talked about this in the COVID episode that we uploaded, but thinking about how immense that system is and how fragile it can be and how much of a toll it takes on other people’s lives and on the environment and on animal welfare and all of these different factors, I think that regaining some of that autonomy and regaining your place in your own survival and considering the way that extracting yourself from that system, even in a small way, can alleviate a burden that’s being placed on the environment or on someone’s human rights or something like that, is for sure a radical act.
Chris: Wow. I never thought about all that. That is pretty heavy. You heard it here first folks. You want to be radical, grow your own food.
Hallie: You can grow a radical which is a part of a plant. [Laughs].
Hallie: Really good. [Laughs].
Chris: Thanks for listening to this episode of One to Grow On.
Hallie: This show is hosted by me, Hallie Casey and Chris Casey.
Chris: It is produced by Catherine Arjet and Hallie Casey.
Hallie: Our music is Something Elated by Broke For Free.
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Hallie: You can find all of our episodes as well as more information about the show and the team on our website onetogrowonpod.com.
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Chris: Be sure to check out the next episode in two weeks.
Hallie: But until then, keep on growing.
Chris: Bye everybody.