Saturday, March 26, 2011

Bong! Spring Has Sprung!

One of the sure signs of Spring here in the Shenandoah Valley is the opening of the Green Valley Book Fair which opened today and so I joined the mob at the book fair. I love books and have a zillion of them to the eternal annoyance of my light of love who thinks they are just dust collectors and fill up books shelves which I'm then always in need more of. (Was that a sentence?) Anyway, aside from some science fiction and a slug of audio CDs for driving in the car to while the time away the image above captures the three gardening books I scarfed up. There was only the one hydroponics book, but I figured that container culture was close enough to hydroponics to grab a copy and chug through it as I begin conspiring for a new year.

One of my goals is to try to make a system that is almost zero maintenance but still grows great crops. Actually last year's float system came rather close to that goal. If I had a bigger place I might already be making some kind of shallow float container with a waterfall to generate a hydroponics delight. The central fountain, small as it was last year, gave plenty of oxygenation given the success of the plants. The kiddy pool size was a little constraining, but you can't have everything. The biggest problem was I didn't think it through so I had a plant support problem that was not handled well by the wire cages I got and strung up.

The problem this year is going to be the fact that I want the system to be able to be unattended for significant periods of time. Last year ran fairly well for a week if you had it filled up at the beginning of the season but by the time the season was ended you had to attend to it ever day or so. The kicker though is that in addition to not wanting to have to attend too much to it, I'm also lazy and would like to not have to put too much effort into setting it up. The root of all progress is human laziness they say. If we can find a way for some mechanism or gadget or somebody else to do it, we will. So the challenge is to substitute creativity for work. So it is time to put on the thinking cap and start thinking about Summer 2011.