A Month of Growing Food

Rows of Seedlings on Jan 10

My plants on Jan 10. From left to right, the rows are: Quinoa (except the farthest plant which is Kale), Kale, Broccoli, Garlic, Chia, Lentils, Tomatoes. I planted the Quinoa and Kale on Jan 3, and the rest on Jan 5

In January I decided to try growing some food in my apartment. I thought it would be fun, healthy, and better for the environment than buying food at the store.  It turned out to be fun (although far more work than I’d expected), healthy (but expensive), and not nearly as environmentally friendly as I’d hoped.  Let me share some more photos and then I’ll explain a bit more about the environmental piece.

Jan 15 Sprout Tray

A tray of sprouts on Jan 15. That tall stuff on the left is wheat grass. Wheat grass was the king of the sprouts.  I didn’t continue with sprouts because they were small, boring, and didn’t taste great.

Green Onions at end of month

Green onions at the end of January.  I planted the white bottoms of some green onions that I bought at the grocery store and the green parts grew back.

 

Plants at end of month

Some plants at the end of January (lentils, quinoa, kale, tomatoes, chia, broccoli, dill, basil)

 

Plants in bedroom after a couple months.

And these are some of the plants today (March 12). I have a forest in my bedroom. Most of what you can see here is brocolli, chia, and tomato plants.

Some Misconceptions

1 – Growing my own food would save money

At the start of the month, I thought that growing my own food might be less expensive than buying food at the store. The opposite has been true. Not only is the set-up expensive (pots, trays, grow lights, soil), the ongoing expenses are significant also (plant food & powering the grow lights).  I doubt I’ll reach the point where I’ve recovered my startup costs.

2 – It’s better for the environment

I thought that growing my own plants would be better for the environment because:

  • I don’t need to have my food shipped to a store
  • I’m not using any pesticides
  • The food doesn’t come in any packaging

In reality, I’ve realized that growing my own food may actually be worse for the environment than buying it at the store, because:

  • I needed to have the soil packaged and shipped to me (and apparently it’s not a good idea to reuse soil so I’d need new soil for new plants)
  • The plants use grow lights rather than the sun (grow lights use electricity and are made of environmentally unfriendly materials that will eventually end up in landfill)
  • The plants drink a lot of water
  • Plant food comes in plastic jugs and needs to be shipped to me

Growing plants has been fun but time-consuming. I’ll keep the plants growing that I already have but I don’t intend to start any new ones.

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