It’s a jungle out there…

Well I’m starting to get quite excited about eating my first crop of BLT (Basil, Lettuce and Tomato).

It’s been just four days and already the seeds are starting to germinate in my new smart garden (well the Basil and Lettuce is, not sure what is going on with the Toms yet)…

I’m surprised I’ve not had a knock on the door from the plod yet, as the garden sits on the windowsill of the office, it does look like I’m growing my own weed through a hydroponics system from the pavement outside.

Maybe next crop…

The Good Life…

The list below contains the food I regularly eat as part of my paleo lifestyle, applying the 80/20 rule (80% of the food and drink is strict paleo, 20% is the wiggle room needed so the brain or stomach doesn’t crave so much, e.g. root crops, cordials and vegan chocolate etc).

I have also indicated whether I can grow, forage or hunt my own food and each item has, in project management parlance, a RAG status (Red = Cannot; Amber = Difficult; Green = Can) and next to it, if it is amber or green, what action I need to take to acquire it (VG = Vertical Garden; SG = Smart Garden; F = Foraging; H = Hunting).

Although I have only just started to grow basil, lettuce and tomatoes in my smart garden, the list below is my typical weekly shopping list, over time I hope to replace all of the amber items with green (red items being either luxury or things which will fall off the list over time), and self-produce all such green items rather than purchasing them from the local greengrocers, butchers shops and Bargain Booze store…

It’s also fair to say that with my limited space, I won’t be able to produce anywhere near enough food to disconnect myself from the food-grid just yet, but the skills and lessons learned over the coming years will set a true foundation for off-grid living which takes place in a mere 2462 days from now…

Breakfast Smoothies

1. Bananas 🔴

2. Blueberries (F) 🟠

3. Strawberries (VG/SG/F) 🟢

4. Raspberries (VG/F) 🟢

5. Apples (F) 🟠

6. Kiwi Fruits 🔴

7. Ginger (VG) 🟢

Lunchtime Soups

1. Sweet potatoes (VG) 🟢

2. Carrots (VG) 🟢

3. Potatoes (VG) 🟢

4. Onions (VG) 🟢

5. Broccoli (VG) 🟢

6. Cauliflower (VG) 🟢

7. Mushrooms (F) 🟠

8. Tomatoes (VG/SG) 🟢

9. Sweet Peppers (VG/SG) 🟢

10. Leeks (VG) 🟢

11. Parsnips (VG) 🟢

12. Pak Choi (VG/SG) 🟢

13. Cabbage (VG) 🟢

14. Celery (VG) 🟢

15. Chilli Peppers (VG/SG) 🟢

16. Peas (VG/SG) 🟢

17. Garlic (VG/SG) 🟢

18. Ginger (VG/SG) 🟢

19. Lemongrass (VG) 🟢

20. Basil (VG/SG) 🟢

21. Apple Mint (VG/SG/F) 🟢

22. Rosemary (VG/SG) 🟢

23. Coriander (VG/SG) 🟢

24. Chives (VG/SG) 🟢

25. Parsley (VG/SG) 🟢

26. Black Pepper (VG/SG) 🟢

27. Vegetable Stock (VG/SG) 🟢

28. Coconut Milk 🔴

Lunchtime Meals

1. Eggs (H) 🟠

2. Salmon (H) 🟠

3. Asparagus (VG) 🟢

4. Spinach (VG/SG) 🟢

5. Lettuce (VG/SG) 🟢

6. Tomatoes (VG/SG) 🟢

7. Spring Onions (VG/SG) 🟢

8. Cucumbers (VG) 🟢

9. Tuna 🔴

Snacks

1. Biltong (H) 🟠

2. Nuts and seeds 🔴

3. Vegetable crisps (VG/SG) 🟢

4. Vegan Chocolate 🔴

5. Blackcurrant Cordial (F) 🟠

6. Elderberry Cordial (F) 🟠

7. Herbal Tea (VG/SG/F) 🟢

8. Red Wine 🔴

9. Coffee 🔴

Evening Meals

1. Venison (H) 🟠

2. Salmon (H) 🟠

3. Mackerel (H) 🟠

4. Tuna 🔴

5. Vegetables (VG/SG/F) 🟢

6. Salad (VG/SG/F) 🟢

Maybe I need to start watching the 70’s sitcom The Good Life to get some hints and tips from Richard Bryers and Felicity Kendall (mmmm Felicity Kendall…)

Smart Gardening…

Back when I had a BBC TV licence (Covid coverage was the death knell for me), I used to watch the programme Click, which as an IT nerd gave me some insights as to what gizmos and gadgets were making their way onto the scene.

One such gadget I recalled from last year was the concept of Smart Gardens, hi-tech hydroponic/LED systems which allowed one to grow small fruits, mini vegetables and herbs (with a “h”) from the comfort of their living room, kitchen or in my case, office.

Following on from our foraging foray a fortnight who, and following the wife’s recent membership to a “UK preppers” group on The Book of Face, we wholeheartedly concurred that from next Spring, we would start to grow our own fruits, vegetables and herbs (with a “h”) from our small patio garden.

The only downside of living where we do has always been garden space. We have never complained too much though as there are plenty of green spaces nearby and we can see both the sea and the beach from our daughters bedroom.

So whilst I draw up plans and schematics for our proposed vertical garden (raised beds for beets, onions, potatoes and carrots as well as wall planters for fruits and herbs), my mind switched back to the here and now, so after a trawl through Amazon I found the not-so-cheap Smart Garden 9, as advertised on the BeeB.

After humming and harring for a couple of days, I connivingly waited for the wife to drop into the hypnagogic zone and received her royal seal of approval to proceed with the purchase, albeit from the realm of slumber.

I woke up this morning quite excited for the delivery man, and as promised, the service level agreement was not breached and the goods arrived on time.

And so to the unboxing…

Rather amusing Chinese proverb on the inside box, who could argue with that logic, smart bloke that Confucius fella…

Outer cover off revealed the LED lighting system and the “free” pods, Basil, Lettuce, Tomatoes (vegan BLT)…

Who knew that the island of Hiiumaa off the coast of Estonia is one of the cleanest places on Earth. Who knew that the island of Hiiumaa even existed…

BLT in all of its plasticised glory. Shame that they couldn’t come in more biodegradable wrappings, everything else in the box was cardboard and 100% recyclable…

The main unit, which contains the water reservoir and nine empty micro-pods, ripe for the planting…

Did I say there was an instruction manual to begin with, as a bloke this was of course superfluous (until I got stuck)…

The main unit set up, LED attached to arms and mains adapter primed…

Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink (unless you are a plant). Four litres added to the reservoir and one of each of the BLT potted. I decided to do one of each at first rather than overload the unit, taking lessons from the first batch (much in the same way as I did for the biltong recently).

There she grows!

A cautionary note and lesson number one learned, fill the reservoir at the point of habituation not as I did on the dining room table on the floor beneath, I do hope I didn’t flood the pods with all of the swishing around.

Looking forward to seeing how the first batch grows, with the Mighty Cthulhu and the Ever Bubbly Bubblies of Shub Niggurath watching over them, I’m sure things will be just fine with a bit of cultist chanting.

Ia-Ia, Cthulhu ftagn!