Planting with Science

Food for Thought

What if your garden failed and you couldn’t replace your ‘lost’ produce by going to the store or market? What if the success of your garden determined not only what you’d eat but also how you’d live? How would you ensure you are making the best decisions for growing year after year after year?

Planting Seeds With Hope

Each spring, many of us anticipate the excitement of growing our own food.

Oregano in Garden | www.jenniferdyck.com

We might put some seeds in the ground or in a pot. Maybe we splurged and bought small garden plants, stuffed them into something bigger and said “Voila, my garden!

We plant seeds with hope. We hope they will grow.

We water, we might fertilize, we weed (for a little while), we might choose to fight off insects or disease and we watch them grow, until sometimes they don’t. Not everything we plant will grow to its fullest potential and maybe it doesn’t grow at all and that’s ok.

When Gardens Don’t Grow

What happens when you have a garden failure? What happens when your garden plants don’t grow? This has happened to me and it for lack of a better word it “sucks”. Yes, it sucks. I put time, money and effort into growing something to eat and it failed.

What happens next is where (I think) there is a disconnect taking place and a large opportunity for learning.

Many of us, me included will do the following:

“Oh well,” I shrug, pull up the plant(s), clean up my failure and head to the nearest grocery store or market and buy what I tried to grow at home. I carry on. We carry on.

My Garden is a Hobby

I grow food as a hobby. For most people, growing a garden is a hobby. I do it because I enjoy it, it brings me pleasure and I do it outside of my regular occupation.

Rhubarb Crisp | www.jenniferdyck.com

The success or failure of my garden and patio pots do not determine whether my family and I will eat. Failure of growth does not determine if we will have the resources to pay our bills, put food on the table and function in our day-to-day lives.

We have the ability to replace our loss, we can go buy what we need and carry on.

When Science and Gardening Meet

My friends with the most successful gardens have one thing in common – They turn to science. They read the seed packages, they know their soil type, they know what growing zone they live in, they read about AND practice science in their garden.

CSA Veggies week 4 of 2016 | www.jenniferdyck.com

A garden can be super rewarding and very successful. It can allow us to play, to learn, to have fun and it can feed many mouths even when it is a hobby.

Successfully growing food relies on science with a dash of hope.

Farming Requires Science

A farmer growing food is growing food for a living. It’s their job, it’s their lifestyle and it’s their way of life.

Canola Heart Hands | www.jenniferdyck.com

When a crop fails, there is no store around the corner to replace what is lost. It is a failed crop. It might mean learning to do with less the coming year, it might mean bills going unpaid, it definitely means more than a failed hobby garden.

Farming relies upon science and the advancement of technology to be successful but science alone is not going to win over the hearts and minds of eaters. We will always have science to back us up but the greater connection, understanding and support will come from meeting one another around a table of compassion, emotional connection, critical thinking, a deep interest in learning and finding common ground.

Let’s Get Planting with Science

Growing my canola plant made me realize that if it fails, there is no store around the corner to buy a new one. This is up to me and science is going to be my best chance for a successful canola plant.

Here is what I decided to consider:

  • Soil
  • Fertilizer
  • Seed depth

Soil

My cup contains:

  • New potting soil 75%: it will contain unused nutrients. It was also recommended by a farmer.
  • Black earth provided 25%: it looked rich, contained moisture, contained small bits of clay and it grew plants this past season which indicated fertility.
  • 1 Tbsp of canola meal: this is my science experiment. My sister-in-law who is a Canola Meal expert used 2/3 of a cup so I’m the ‘low dose’ portion of our mini experiment.

Fertilizer

  • Inserted one fertilizer spike 13-4-5. This was also on recommendation of a farmer with an agronomy degree.

Seed Depth

  • Research has been done and is shared through the Canola Council of Canada agronomy team that ideal seed depth is 1/2 to 1 inch. I aimed for the 1/2 inch mark as I’d like to have early emergence from the soil.

  • I planted 4 seeds in my cup that are evenly spaced between the cup edge and the fertilizer spike in the center.
  • I was also advised to ensure I pack my soil down enough to ensure good soil contact to my seed.

The soil is mixed, the seeds are planted, the fertilizer spike is in, I’ve watered and now I wait…until I get this tweet:

Thanks Curtis! My cup is now in the bag provided and on the South facing window sill. It will stay in the bag 24hrs a day until day 5.

Follow #FarmToFoodFamily on twitter for more frequent updates.

Always…Jenn

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