Excuses, Excuses, Excuses

I was talking with a friend about gardening recently, and she commented about how great my plants looked and how she could NEVER have a garden, small herb garden or even houseplants.  She said that she had a black thumb and kills every plant she ever had.  She just didn’t have the time and rarely remembered to water her plants.

It made me think of all the excuses we have heard from family, friends and acquaintances about growing and maintaining plants.  How many of these excuses have you heard?

  • I have a “Black Thumb”; everything I plant dies
  • I am too busy to plant anything
  • I never remember to water the plants
  • It’s just too expensive to build a garden
  • I don’t have the space to put in a garden
  • I would rather just go to the store and by the herbs or produce

Solutions and Innovations

One man who has addressed these problems is Nigel Paquin. He lives in Fukuoka, Japan, and given the tight spaces and apartment living, there simply is no way to develop a sprawling garden system.  There isn’t the space!  Everything needs to be compact, yet at the same time, everyone wants fresh vegetables.

Nigel developed a really innovative way to grow fresh produce in tight spaces that is virtually hands-free. Nigel embodies our motto here at Small Scale Gardening: Small Spaces….Maximum Impact.

Meet the Mini Rain Gutter Grow System

Mini Rain Gutter Grow System - Courtesy of Nigel Paquin

Mini Rain Gutter Grow System – Courtesy of Nigel Paquin

Nigel developed a Mini Rain Gutter Grow System using Larry Hall’s concept and placed a great Do It Yourself video on YouTube. This compact system will allow plants to take as much water as they need.  This is achieved by wicking action between the gutter/water basin and the grow bag or container.  The reservoir allows the grower to “fill and forget” as the plants are self watering.

Advantages for the Mini Rain Gutter Grow System include:

  • Inexpensive to construct.  Materials needed are watering tray, wood plank (i.e., 2″x4″), stake/trellis, water jug/reservoir, grow bag/container, soil and seeds/plants
  • Simple to construct
  • Easy to maintain (no weeding, regular watering provided by wicking action – just fill water reservoir and go)
  • Takes up little space and can be set anywhere

I asked Nigel if he had any lessons learned from this experience, and he cautions that if wood or bamboo is used to stake the plants,   the wood or bamboo stake will crack and eventually rot because the Mini Rain Gutter Grow System is so efficient in wicking up water into the soil.  Perhaps a PVC stake is a better choice or keeping the wooden stakes outside the soil material is a fix for that problem.

I have also seen pictures of a Mini Rain Gutter Grow System blown over due to high winds.  As plants like cucumbers grow up a trellis, the plant and trellis system acts like a sail.  You will need to think about anchoring the planter down.   Something to consider as you design and construct a Mini Rain Gutter Grow System.

You really should take the time (less than 7 minutes) to see the Mini Rain Gutter Grow System.  It really is clever and innovative, and I am considering a system like this for celery and broccoli.  Nigel has been sharing these ideas with others in Fukuoka, and he has developed a “green curtain” concept as well.  Check out the last minute of the video…really great ideas for using the Mini Rain Gutter Grow System.  I will be constructing one of these in the future to test out this system.

After spending some time on his channel, I would recommend browsing through his other videos and subscribe.  There is a treasure trove of information and ideas there.

Thanks, Nigel, for thinking outside the (grow) box and developing the Mini Rain Gutter Grow System!

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