What else do you grow?

There are 2 kinds of people, growers and non-growers. Maybe we are just born that way. I remember planting peach pits and cherry seeds outside my dad’s garage when I was 5, and later on, my grandmother would let me dig up and replant baby plants from her flower garden. Oh sure, I have been enthralled with epiphytes ever since I got my first Cattleya in 1985 and that will remain my focus, but really, I love growing everything! And gardening of any kind is such a great profession or hobby; I mean in later years, how much golf can you play?

My other drive in life has been self-sufficiency; I hate being dependent upon corporate America for anything I can do, build, or grow myself. I think half of people’s problems today come from not being able to do anything for themselves and being dependent upon others for everything. When I worked at Boeing I would see talented guys looking forward to retirement, only to fall over dead 6 months later, because their job was their life and after retirement, they had nothing left to live for. Me, I might have the opposite problems, too many things to do!

I heat my house with wood that I cut, split, and stack myself, I tend my 5000 orchid plants, I grow as much of our food as I can in my 1/4 acre garden, and I still work for the man when I have to. Growing my own food has really become a big deal to me in the last few years since I finally have enough space to do what I want. And this year I finally got a tractor to help me out, which makes hauling logs and mulch and other heavy things a tad easier.

And unlike orchid plants where unless you also have a lab, you have to grow plants that someone else started, with vegetables I can grow my crops from seed, which is a part of the process that I really enjoy. The trick is to schedule successive planting to supply the right crops at the right time, and here in Carolina, it’s imperative to plant at the right time of year since the winters are cold and the summers are steamy.

Tractor hauling logs to the wood-splitter

But as with any kind of farming, the weather is always a factor. For example, this year we had a warm December; temperatures barely fell below freezing. The previous winter was also warm, so in January I started lots of plants in cell trays and in early February I planted broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, and 4 kinds of lettuce in the garden.

Plugs ready to go into the ground

It took only few night in the teens and most of it was dead. Disappointing yes, but with my plan, which was to plant the same crops several months in a row, all was not lost (and some plants like kale and Napa cabbage did not seem bothered by the cold).

On Tuesday I will be replanting most of the things I lost from new plugs, and plants that might still be too tender to handle a freeze (like lettuce), I up-potted into 4″ pots to be planted a little later.

Lettuce that will be planted in the ground in a couple of weeks

We have also begun planting sprouts and microgreens that we can grow inside during the winter months when it is too cold to garden outside. I have trays of sunflower, Swiss chard, and basil microgreens growing in the greenhouse right now, and bean sprouts, which grow in the house. Knowing that I can never grow all of our food, we grow as much as possible. It is now nearing the end of February and next week it will be time to begin planting trays of summer crops such as peppers, tomatoes, and herbs.

Mung bean sprouts growing on the kitchen counter

I love growing plants and I embrace it. Orchids will always be my first love, but veggies and everything else are not far behind! Pictures below are of orchids in bloom in my greenhouse in February 2022.