Saturday, May 20, 2017

Gardener Ted's Spring Vegetable Garden and Hydroponic Gardening by J.Q. Rose

Cozy mystery author J.Q. Rose
Dangerous Sanctuary available at the Books We Love bookstore

Writing stories has been a pastime for me since I was seven years old. Making up characters and setting them in different situations has always been so much fun and satisfying. I enjoy  conjuring up novels today on my laptop as much as I did when I was a kid with pencil and paper stretching my imagination and sharing stories with friends.

My husband's lifelong pastime is gardening. He loves growing plants. So much so that his starting seedlings in a hobby greenhouse set us on the path to becoming business owners with a flower shop, garden center and greenhouses. Now in retirement, he is living his dream of gardening year round. He has a small winter garden in Florida and a very large garden in the summer in West Michigan.

Let me introduce you to Gardener Ted and his 2017 spring garden. 

He is always experimenting. 
This year, he is trying a no-till garden. No roto-tilling. In the photo you see all the dead-looking grass? That was rye that he planted in the fall. He digs a trench in the dead rye grass and plants his seeds.
In this photo he is watering the green beans (string beans) he just planted today, May 15. 
Next to it is rhubarb which comes up every year.
 You can see the baby pea plants are just getting a good start.
The onions are finally getting some growth. We have had pretty cool nights and days this spring, so the plants are waiting to grow. But once it warms up, there will be a big growth spurt.
 This morning he cut rhubarb for the first time and cooked it. Do you like rhubarb? I can eat it in a strawberry-rhubarb pie, kind of, but he loves it "stewed" in a pot. Just rhubarb with LOTS of sugar, no crust.
 This is the best results we've had for our strawberries in the past couple of years. 
Look at all the blossoms.
My mouth waters when I think of those delicious red berries coming on in June. If every blossom turns into a strawberry, we're going to be gorging ourselves, the family, and the neighbors on lots of strawberry shortcake and pie. Oh, and don't forget the strawberries on ice cream. Mmmm...
This winter Gardener Ted designed and constructed a hydroponic growing system. The dictionary defines hydroponics as "the cultivation of plants by placing the roots in liquid nutrient solutions rather than in soil."

This is the first system he built in Florida and raised delicious, clean varieties of lettuce.

For his spring garden, he has completed his new and improved system, including doubling the growing capacity of the Florida one.

The plants' roots are in the water to extract the nutrients out of the water flowing through the pipes. Gardener Ted carefully monitors and controls these factors every day.

The water is pumped out of this big gray container, through the large pipes, and then returns to the container to be pumped through again.

This system produced the best tasting, crunchy lettuce we've ever had.

Cleaning the fresh pulled lettuce heads from the hydroponics growing system is a dream. The heads are so clean, I just run them under the kitchen faucet, and they're ready for the toppings and dressing for a delightful fresh salad.

Besides working in the garden and having the satisfaction of eating the delicious veggies, he loves spending time with our grand kids and sharing his gardening knowledge with them. They love chomping on the vegetables as they help him harvest the crops. Someone said how much sweeter a pea is when eaten in the garden.

Are you a gardener? Vegetables? Flowers? Why do you garden? Wishing you sunny skies and plenty of rain!

Connect online with J.Q. Rose here.
Photos by J.Q. Rose