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!

The Path…

One of my favourite films of all time is Into The Wild, an existential journey of a man who turns away from a promising career in law and instead chooses a life less ordinary by today’s norms.

The inspiring yet ultimately tragic tale of Christopher McCandless (portrayed expertly by the then young Emile Hirsh) strikes a chord for those trapped in a similar situation, faced with a life changing choice.

The film resonates on several levels, of how important nature and relationships are and how unimportant material possessions and conformity really are.

Most of us choose our own paths, although sadly some have paths chosen for them, victims of society or oppressors. Seldom it seems do we make life-changing alterations to our paths, instead opting for safety and reduced risk.

JFK said it best when he exclaimed (in relation to going to the moon):

“We do things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too”.

Last weekend, I met up with my old buddy “M” for a walk in the Clwydian Hills in North Wales, the first time we had been in each other’s extended company since our “Not the New Years Eve Party” on the 3rd of January this year.

We set off early (separate cars) and reached our destination as the early morning field mists began to dissipate as the sun rose higher in the sky.

Opting for the forest route, we bimbled and talked for almost three hours about Life, the Universe and Everything, taking in the flora, fauna and vistas as we wove in and out of copses and along the long and winding path.

Our paths have not been too dissimilar to date, both work in IT, married with children, houses, cars, pensions etc.

We both have a passion for consciousness theory and spent most of our morning discussing time; does it really exist, does the arrow of time only ever go one direction, is our life path predetermined or do we have free will to influence it, are there infinite paths which all play out in hidden dimensions and it is our choices that steer us to the one we perceive as reality?

We talked about our shared goals too, to retire as soon as we were able and lead that life less ordinary, and I shared my own vision of what that may look like; a small holding off-grid, away from everything that has polluted humanity to the extent that we see today every time we turn on the news.

One thing was for sure, time flies and before we knew it we were back at the cars and heading home.

As I drove home, a song came on my playlist from a prog rock band from the UK called Haken. “M” and I had seen them live a few years back (back when live music was still played – I miss it so much), after which we chatted to the lead singer a while, blood nice chap.

Decanting my hiking gear from the car and sitting down with my mid-morning brew, I chanced to read over the lyrics of the song, and how wonderful and poignant they are:

“This life is a dream
A gift we receive
To live and to love
We forge The Path

Our nightmare in birth
Our struggle for worth
In vain we carry on
Our mission to become

Adapt to this world
It’s a chance we must take
We’ll sing our song
We’ll play our hand”

We are all on different paths, our own journeys through time and space, yet sometimes our paths converge with those of others. We should cherish the moments where we can walk along side others, for those moments, those fleeting moments (like my morning trek with “M”) interlink kindred spirits and it is the metaphysical relationships with fellow man that makes us what we are, human…