Friday, February 07, 2014

So, about that whole "not being a farmer thing"

It's not 100% what it sounds like.

Like, it's probably about 50% what it sounds like.

Lemme 'splain.

I fucking love growing vegetables. You know this already.

So, it'd seem like being a farmer would be an ideal-ish thing for me to do with my life. Or at least that's what I thought when I quit my job and ran off to get a horticulture degree for crop production like some sort of vegetable loving psychopath. 

GIVE ME CARROTS OR GIVE ME DEATH! Or something similarly insane is probably what you're thinking. It's ok. Go with it. It makes the story more dramatic and less dumb sounding.

And for my first semester, I was totally all, HELL YEAH I'M GOING TO BE A FARMER JUST LOOK AT ME ON THIS TRACTOR and shit.

For the record, I still love the tractor. 

I was all up to my ears in farming, organics, getting mud all over my shiny red rain boots, planting strawberries in the rain, cutting down cover crops in a hail storm, harvesting only part of the crop because the rain got to it and now it's all moldy, rewashing bushels of carrots because people at the farmer's market are all EW THERE'S DIRT ON MY CARROT RIGHT THERE CAN'T YOU SEE IT?! I CAN'T BE EXPECTED TO DINE ON THIS VAGUELY SOILED ORGANIC VEGETABLE FOR WHICH I JUST PAID MERE PENNIES! CLEAN IT FOR ME NOW!, wearing myself out planting seedlings up and down many rows of beds and then waiting forevers to harvest them while fertilizing and watering like a lunatic and such. 

And then, in my second semester I took Hydroponic Food Production and was all, Oh. 


This is way better.

Then I got a job at the college greenhouse running a few of those hydroponic crops and was all OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH some more.

Like when I seeded a tray of basil and seven weeks later it I harvested it.



and done.

And then I every week I harvested another 46-92 fully grown basil plants that were only a few weeks old and had grown happily and fast as fuckly to their maturity on just 45 gallons of recirculating water and nutrients blended to suit their specific needs. 

I love specificity in vegetables. And all things, really

And then I tried growing pac choi and FIVE weeks later I harvested it.


 And then every week I harvested about 46 pac choi plants.

And we've talked about the lettuce. OH THE BLOODY LETTUCE. Sow a tray of seed one week and four weeks later you have this.

105 butterhead lettuces at your service.

And then we tried some weird shit that turned out awesome. Like, remember how there were carrots being rewashed because EW THERE'S A DIRT ON IT?

Yeah, so, imagine the nightmare of leeks - the OH MY GOD THERE'S A DIRT ON IT and IN IT and oh the woe and horror of cleaning leeks, etc because of the soil that ends up in between the leek leaves and all over the roots and people buying produce at a farmer's market get all up in arms about the horrible woeful dirt so you must clean them thoroughly...

Well, not when you grow them hydroponically.

What little media that's left on the roots washes off with a quick spray of the hose
And then, have you ever gotten to eat leek roots because OH MY GOD GOODNESS.
Like leek spaghetti.
Yes yum.
No knees or backs were killed in the harvesting of this crop


And all of these crops, which turn over way faster so you're able to grow and harvest way more than what you see here, grow in about a quarter the space of the field crops, use a fraction the amount of water and fertilizers, come away very clean, are easier to harvest and very rarely get ruined by whatever the weather's dishing out outdoors.

So, bottom line for those of you who are all SHUT UP AND TELL ME WHAT THIS HAS TO DO WITH NOT BEING A FARMER ANYMORE, WOMAN...

I'm not planning to be a field farmer anymore and instead am aiming to be a hydroponic farmer.

Of food.

Not, like, that *other* crop that everyone automatically associates with hydroponics. Not that *that crop* is bad or anything, but it's not really food and I fucking love growing food.

Which you know.

So, yeah. That's all that was about. I'm taking my farming indoors so that I can grow way more of it and also so that I can have 400 more pets courtesy of the aquaponic lettuce system. Hooray for that.

Face cuddles time!


  1. Hooray! Hydroponics look awesome! And I love how fast things grow. Perhaps I will have to give that a try next time I have a house. :)

    1. I have a little indoor hydro system going now - it's pretty adorable.

  2. So much to say . . .

    YAY! That sounds good in all respects. Cleanliness, climate control, faster food, and leek roots as spaghetti. I want that, particularly. But will never harvest it from my super-muddy, clay-y garden.

    I am totally sending Mr. Jason to you to learn from your wisdom.

    So where does one apply to work as a hydroponic farmer? Agri-business? Test farms? Are there that many facilities in your area?

    1. Actually, there are more job opportunities in hydro than field farming, as I'm finding out. And they pay better.

      Most of the jobs are in places that need greenhouses to grow food, like Pacific northwest, Midwest, East coast, Canada, etc.

      We'll see...

      Maybe I'll start sharing more about hydro growing on the blog if people are into it. I don't want to get all nerdy boring, but it's so cool.

      If Jason has questions, send him my way. I might even know an answer! Might.

    2. Please share more about hydro growing. I'd like to know more about the expenses of hydro growing. Please come to Montana and start hydro growing, I could use some decent veggies in the winter.

  3. Wait, what? I'm having some issues understanding that farmer's market shoppers have issues with dirt.
    Those photos are absolutely gorgeous. You could make a lot of pesto with that basil. Pesto. For gnocchi.
    PS. I think you must get as annoyed by the "heh heh" jokes surrounding hydroponics as our friend Ele gets about the "heh heh" jokes surrounding the fact that she lives in Amsterdam. Eyeroll.

    1. Seriously. Root vegetables come from the ground. And OH LOOK HOW EASY THE WATER RINSES THE SOIL RIGHT OFF GEEZ GOD.

      And, yes, the eyeroll factor when telling someone you grow hydroponic crops is enormous. Which is why they're changing the name of the course to "Controlled Environment Agriculture".

      Because OH you should see some of the students that sign up for this course. Or rather smell them. Sheesh.


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