Postage Stamp Gardening


How Much Can You Really Grow?


Now that spring has finally arrived in the Northern Hemisphere, your thoughts, if you reside in said hemisphere, have, no doubt, turned to the outdoors, and to outdoor activities. And ranking high in popularity among outdoor activities—higher, perhaps, than even such fashionable activities as outdoor doughnut eating, outdoor basket weaving, and outdoor reading of The Flying News—is gardening. For many of us, the spring is the time when we turn our children loose in the wild with shovels and packs of seeds while we contentedly relax with a refreshing doughnut.

For others, however, a garden seems an unattainable dream, requiring, as it appears to, a certain amount of access not only to the outdoors, but also to dirt.

Now this appearance is to a certain degree misleading, as our earlier column on aeroponics shows. Still, for those traditionalists who want the experience of scrubbing the skin off of their hands in a vain attempt to get the dirt out from underneath their fingernails, nothing can take the place of good, old-fashioned garden loam.

This explains the popularity of the postage-stamp garden. Even if you live on a boat or in a houseblimp, you ought to be able to find at least a little bit of soil. Dirt can be found in between your toes, on your children’s boots, and even by mail order. So even if you don’t have acres of rolling prairie for your garden, do not despair. Procure your dirt, find a good postage stamp, and dig in!


Bolivar 10c green (1863)

But this brings us to the question with which we began: How much can you really grow? That depends a lot on how big your stamp is.

The smallest stamp ever issued was only 8 by 9.55 millimeters (.0054054054054 by .0064527027027 Roman pace), which would fit approximately one medium-sized garden plant. If you choose really small plants such as chives, you might be able to have more than one plant, but they’d be crowded, which would probably make them grouchy and worse tasting than usual. So if you are under severe space constraints, then this may be the stamp for you.

What if you want to super-size your postage stamp garden? The largest postage stamp ever was a Chinese “Special Delivery” stamp from 1913-14, measuring by 248 by 77 millimeters (0.81364829396 by 0.25262467192 foot). This stamp would be big enough to accommodate a small fruit tree, and would give you a truly impressive postage stamp garden. If you prefer to stick with United States Postage, the largest US postage stamp was the $3.00 Mars Pathfinder stamp from 1997, which was 3 inches by 1.5 inches (2.54 by 1.27 Swiss zoll). This would fit exactly one, large, healthy broccoli plant, with room at the side for a few violets or a little patch of chives.

“Window of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast (Russian Stamp, 2014 No. 1894-1895),” design by Kh. Betredinova. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Bolivar 10c green, public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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