Grit Blogs > Homesteading with Mrs D

Lessons From the Mobile Garden

By Robyn Dolan

Tags: Gardening, Mobile Garden, Making Compost, Robyn Dolan, container garden, compost bucket,


Homesteading with Mrs Dpeppermint oregano lettuce


This is more like a review of what went right and what went wrong in my mobile garden experiment. The only things going right at this time, are the peppermint, oregano and lettuce. Even the oregano is not the one I tried from seed. That one died. It is from a plant I purchased at Sprouts, same as the thriving peppermint. Well, at least I’m having good luck there.

The lettuce is from seeds I planted that took a very long time to germinate. They were from the 10 for a dollar bunch I got. Looks like romaine. The peas and collards came up nicely. So nicely that the abuelo’s dog ate them before they could get more than a few inches tall. The birds got the rest of my lettuce. The rest of what actually germinated got fried when I left the mobile garden in the back of the truck too many days during hot weather.

I’m sure the lessons here are obvious.

Abuelo’s dog also dug up my strawberries. What is it about potting soil that some dogs just can’t resist? I rescued them and they appeared to revive for a few days, but now they have given up the ghost.

The pansies I got from Home Depot finally died off last week. They lasted from March through our trip to Oregon, and then came back again in June for a couple of months.

The mobile compost bucket is a success! I have to admit that I have dumped it twice, once in the abuelo’s garden and once at the Homestead. Though the contents have not been completely composted, the odor was not unpleasant. Apparently I had the right mix of food scraps and brown matter — sawdust, grass clippings, leaves, shredded paper, moldy hay and a bit of dirt. It actually smelled like the compost you might buy at any home improvement store, even though it was still decomposing. My reason for dumping into the more stationary compost heaps is that I need several more buckets, so that I can let the full ones continue to compost, while I fill new ones. At the current rate of about one bucket a month, I will need about 6 buckets, I think, and room in the truck to transport them. For now, I am just letting them finish their composting at my various homestead stops.

Although I have not harvested in any kind of sustainable amounts, I have learned much to apply to next year’s mobile garden.

Here is a list of what I’ve learned:

- Sometimes seeds are hard (for me) to start. I might be better off, with my limited space, just purchasing hardy young plants.

- Avoid weather extremes, if possible. Purchasing plants in sunny Albuquerque and taking them to frozen Colorado is not the best idea. Plants need to be warm and have sun.

- Do not keep the garden in the back of the truck for more than a day or two. The plants will fry. Maybe in very cold weather it would be okay to put them next to the sunny window,  for a greenhouse effect.

- Protect the garden from predators: dogs, birds, and ??

- Protect the garden from hail (learned that last year!)

My checklist to get ready for next year:

- Create a second garden box.

- Set up a second compost bin.

- Research aeration, drainage and vermicomposting options.

- Create protective covers for severe weather and pests.

- Work on planting list to be ready to order seeds and purchase young plants.

Yes, I am determined to keep my mobile garden going. I may put in some more lettuce for the winter, and hope the mint and oregano will keep producing. I will need to find some sunny windows for this, while we’re in cold weather, but I think I’ll enjoy that challenge. I’ll be sure and let you know, here, how it works out.

I hope you will consider joining me at my website, Mrs. D's Traveling Homestead, for more updates on our mobile homesteading, roadschooling and simple living adventures. Please also check out my book: The Working Parent’s Guide To Homeschooling.