For four years now I have been growing a garden on my deck through the winter. In one sense it is simply a miniature greenhouse. I found a supplier in Colorado who was fashioning covers for the Tower Garden, which I ordered. An aquarium heater rod in the basin keeps the water at 68 degrees. A small electric heater on the deck of the tower keeps the air warm. And the heavy plastic shield allows a decent amount of the eight hours of winter sunlight in, to keep the plants growing.
In addition, I have my indoor tower, which I prefer, growing right in my kitchen. With the LED lights I can get 14 hours of good light, and I don’t have to walk into the cold to harvest dinner. But since space indoors is more limited than my appetite for fresh food, I do both.
What never ceases to amaze me is the growth of food “all by itself.” That is in quotations because there is an electric pump providing intervals of nutrient water for the towers, and the aforementioned heaters for the outside tower, but the growth of a seed into a meal without my presence or input is just amazing! That glory is only magnified when I am gone for weeks at a time, as happened last month.
I had stripped, cleaned and restarted my indoor tower with new seedlings the week before I left on vacation. This picture is representative of what the tower looked like when I left. The video is my attempt to capture the ‘glory’ – the marvel, beauty and provision of seed to food in such a short time.
One of my outside towers had mature plants, from which I was harvesting daily before we left. But the growth in three weeks with even limited winter sun still took me back.
And then there was the hardy greens tower experiment. In this case there was only a heater rod in the tub to maintain a 68 degree temp for the water intermittently cascading over the roots. The broccoli and Brussels sprouts had to withstand the frigid air with only a thin, plastic tarp to keep out the wind, and retain some of the heat from the circulating water. In addition, for the three weeks that we had gone south, our area experienced incessant snow, sleet and ice, with temps regularly in the 20s and 30s, dipping often into the teens at night. I half expected the plants to be frozen and dead when I returned.
Instead, we returned to food in abundance on three separate towers. Just in time for Valentine’s Day!
About 2,000 years ago, it was recorded that a traveling rabbi said these words: “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.”
With all that we know of the structure of plants and the many processes that are at work in causing plant growth (my degree was in plant morphology!) the wonder of a seed becoming dinner never ceases to amaze me.
In the words of educator Steve Ritz, “Just put a seed in the ground.”
In the words of Steve Wyzga, “What’s for dinner?”