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Why I Hate Gardening But Love Hydroponics

  • Written by  Paul Tansley
Who said gardening was easy? Who said gardening was easy?

Earthworms. Ordered “red wigglers” from Amazon. The stuff that comes out of them is great for your plants.

They’re cute, in a wiggly, gross sort of way. Except they escaped from their bin, and got in my bedroom. When I had a date. A date that ended way earlier than I wanted it to. The girl screamed: Worms! You have worms in here!

Compost bin. High-tech, supposed to be odor free. I felt very “green” and sustainable as I carried my table scraps and other stuff out to it.

Compost tea maker. Bucket with worm compost in the bottom, covered over with water. An aquarium pump connected to a gang valve and tubing. Pour in the molasses. Wait a few days. It’s supposed to brew “beneficial microbes” for my garden’s roots.

The earthworms escaped into my bedroom on date night…

My neighbor says to me, “Hey farmer boy…this compost stuff is making me retch. You gotta move this thing.”

I move the bin to the other side of the yard. The neighbor on that side comes over. “Get that rotting food away from my property line. It attracts rats.”

I move it to my patio. The flies like it more than anyone else does.

Rototiller. Bought a used one. No instructions. Thought it’d be easy. It bucked like a bronco, dug into the ground, dragged me along.

The tongs jammed into the earth and nearly flipped me over. I had a sudden vision of myself ground up by a renegade Rototiller.

Planting time. The garden stands like a blank slate of rich organics, waiting for me to paint sproutlings and a rich harvest bounty upon it.

I turn the hose water on. My neighbor looks over the fence. “You oughta check with the City. I think they put something in the water that’s bad for plants.”

He was right. The water has chloramines, arsenic, pesticide residues. I’ve been drinking this stuff?

Rain barrels. I bought them to collect rainwater because I can’t use the City water on my garden. One of them doesn’t have a screen on the top. Mosquitoes use it as a maternity ward. The little vampires are everywhere, and so are the bumps on my skin.

I plant, I weed, I hoe, I water. I dig, I sweat, I get blisters on my fingers, I cut myself. I feel proud that I am “going back to the land.”

I see caterpillars, grasshoppers, slugs. Trying to be humane and organic, I remove them by hand. The slug leaves its sticky trail on me. The grasshopper looks like a small dinosaur, and tries to attack me. The caterpillar stings me.

Every day more of my tender young leaves are missing. Will I ever harvest anything? Will my attempt at food self-sufficiency ever amount to more than a grand experiment in futility?

Winter time. The memories of the outdoor garden are limited to a very dark piece of ground in my backyard with wood around it, and my neighbor’s wisecracks. “Some people are born with a green thumb. Others aren’t. Heh-heh.”

I don’t see what’s so gosh darned funny. But he doesn’t know I now have an indoor hydroponics garden. It’s one of those automatic ones. I just stick started plants into it, add the nutrients, make sure the water gets changed (I had to buy a reverse osmosis system), adjust the fan and lights.

So far I’ve grown tomatoes, lettuce, asparagus, and basil. It saves me money. It’s not enough to food so I can stop going to the grocery store, but it’s a start. The stuff tastes real good. The tomatoes are especially firm, mouthwatering, and juicy…

Kind of like my new girlfriend, the one who doesn’t have to worry about earthworms.

That’s a pretty cute little garden you have there, she says, preparing a salad from lettuce I grew.

I reply: Yes, honey, that’s why I hate gardening, but love hydroponics.

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Last modified on Friday, 29 June 2012 18:25

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