Why You Should Have An Indoor Greenhouse

Being able to grow your own food is one of life’s simple pleasures.

Every spring since I was 12 was dedicated to seed growing. Except that one spring in my college dorm where my roommate hogged the entire window. Although a few boys down the hall did ask how to grow weed in their room. Ah, Colorado.

Mentioning Colorado, the seasons are completely different here compared to my much more northern state of Michigan.

The sun here is lethal.

One summer, I lived in this place where the patio floor would get so hot, I couldn’t even stand on it without my feet feeling like they were melting. Needless to say, nothing I grew that year survived that heat.

This is when I decided to invest $40 and buy a baby indoor greenhouse.

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This thing has been through three moves in the past few years and countless seasons.

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I’m not an expert by any means, but a few people have asked me the easiest way to keep a garden going all year in these cold climates and don’t have access to a full greenhouse… this is my solution.

If you’re looking for one, this one: click here, is very similar to the one I have (that I don’t believe is for sale any longer).

Building A Patio Garden With Limited Space

One of the things I believe in above all is that everyone should know how to grow their own food.

Waking up to a whole new batch of food that you grew yourself is an incredible feeling. I know everyone thinks gardening is for old ladies who just want to burn time, but there are few things that provide a sense of self-reliance quite like gardening. The apocalypse is probably not going to happen any time soon, much to the dismay of zombie fans, but if it did, the ability to survive is dependent on the ability to grow food.

My little patio is simply:

  • Width: 85 inches
  • Height: 43 inches
  • Depth: 22 inches

And so far this year I have:

  • Over 20 flower plants
  • 1 mint plant
  • 1 strawberry plant
  • 4 basil plants
  • 2 pepper plants (one of the also might be a jalapeño, waiting to see)
  • 7 tomato plants

Some pictures:

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Of course, there are a ton of other gardeners who really mastered gardening in small spaces, but with my limited budget (Less than $50), I wanted to keep things as simple as possible.

For anyone who wants to build a patio garden, here are my steps:

1. Determine your climate

A chart like: THIS generally helps. That’s a good guide to determine what will grow and survive in your area. However, if you have a greenhouse or want to put plants on your windowsill, you might be able to grow more than your chart shows.

2. Get some seed starter packs

For years, I have owned little seed starters that look like this:

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These also usually have little plastic covers so they stay warm.

3. Plan out your space

Some plants need a significant amount of space in order to grow. Some just need a small windowsill. It’s best to Google what specific plants look like when they’re full grown to see if you have the space needed.

Take a list of all the herbs, veggies, etc. that you personally enjoy to eat. There are thousands of varieties to choose from, so let yourself dream a bit.

There are some people who prefer to start out small, with just one to three varieties and see how it goes. That’s great, too!

4. Order some seeds

Most grocery stores have a wide selection of seed packages you can buy, I have been loyal to Johnny’s Seeds since I was a young child.

It was on my Christmas list when I was in middle school to order seeds. Back then, there was no online ordering, so we had to call to order. My mother explained to them that I randomly picked up a gardening habit in 7th grade (true story), heard that they were the best, and wanted to order a few packets.

Someone at the company obviously heard my story, and they included a free book about cool gardening projects for families.

Needless to say, that small act has made me a lifetime customer.

If you want, you can order a free catalog off their website: HERE. (Not an affiliate link, I just really like their company.)

I like to go through every winter, earmark each page, and plan out what I am going to grow in the spring.

5. Read the packets and put the seeds in the little starter

Some seeds require watering, a certain depth, to be soaked first, etc., before growing. Be sure to read the back of the packet to know exactly what to do.

As they grow, water them gently. A common problem is being overly aggressive with the watering, which actually ends up drowning the little seedlings.

I actually use a spray bottle with the setting on light misting.

That is really just the basics! Some seeds won’t make it, some will grow great. Developing a green thumb is just a matter of trial and error for the most part. Even if you haven’t ever grown your own garden before, I promise it’s a simple process once you get the hang of it!

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5 Essential Herbs for Any Kitchen

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The most common complaint I heard as a personal trainer was, “Healthy food is just so bland.”

I always shook my head and asked them how many herbs they had available in their kitchen. The answer was always zero, and if I was really lucky, they had one.

We would always get together and I’d introduce them to the wonderful world of herbs. They quickly learned that healthy food is, in fact, not bland at all IF you know what you’re doing.

There are hundreds and hundreds of herbs out there, but if you start with these essential five, you’ll fall in love with them.

Pro tip: If you buy them as plants as opposed to dried branches at the store, you will save a TON of money throughout the season. Seriously.

1. Basil

In my house, basil goes on top of pretty much everything. Tomatoes, pasta, pizza, sandwiches… Of course, “basil” is a blanket generalization, since there are different kinds, but most stores will have Italian basil (my personal favorite) or lemon basil.

It also has an excellent amount of Vitamin K and Manganese.

Take some bread, add on a slice of tomato, mozzarella cheese, and some basil. It is HEAVEN.

I also add it to fish and other meats while they cook for extra flavor.

2. Rosemary

Rosemary is HEAVEN to add on top of meat and in soup. It also tastes wonderful in eggs or in olive oil for a dipping sauce.

Rosemary became popular back when people believed that the smell would strengthen their memory. The Greeks would put branches in their hair while studying for exams.

3. Thyme

Thyme is delicious in pretty much everything. I add it to almost every chicken dish.

Thyme works as a wonderful anti-oxidant and also contains a healthy amount of Vitamin C.

4. Cilantro

Cilantro and I only recently fell in love, but now it is a kitchen necessity. Ever since moving out west and being introduced to real salsa, I add this herb to so many dishes, especially any Mexican recipes.

The health benefits are a long list, but add a few leaves to your salsa, tacos, or quinoa salad to get why this is such a wonderful herb.

5. Mint

I use mint less so for cooking and more so for my life. You know how there is mint flavored gum? Yeah, that comes from an herb. Sadly, most major companies don’t actually use dried leaves, but you can! Just like the other herbs, there are different kinds of mint including peppermint, applemint, and spearmint.

Mint can help your skin, freshen your breath, or add an extra kick to your tea. I always add some mint leaves to my nightly peppermint tea.

 

I want to hear from you!

What are your favorite ways to spice up your dishes? Leave a comment below!

5 Life Lessons From Gardening

Gardening will teach you everything important about life if you just listen.

This is why it is such a shame that people are so removed from getting their hands in the dirt. Let’s dive right in:

1. You cannot stop growth or progress.

The fascinating part about visiting old, abandoned places is to see that the vegetation has taken over most of the constructed parts. It is a great reminder that the world will continue on no matter what. When things need to grow, they will, no matter what is in the way.

2. You need to get your hands dirty.

I have always enjoyed gardening without gloves. There is something therapeutic about cold dirt. This is a reminder that sometimes you have to get your hands dirty in order to build something beautiful. This applies to all areas of life. You have to get in the nitty gritty, experience successes and failures, in order to make something grow.

3. Be observant.

If there is a problem, your plants will tell you. This requires you to pay attention to the leaves, the stems, the fruit, the dirt, and everything else. How true is this for our own lives? Is there something bothering us or someone we know, and we are simply not paying attention to the signs? We all have our own ways of showing that something is getting in the way of our growth. Pay attention.

4. You reap what you sow.

You have to put the seed in the ground to reap the harvest later in the year. How many dreams do we have where we haven’t even planted the seed? If you don’t plant the literal or metaphorical seed, you can’t reap the harvest. You can’t have a dream come to life if you don’t start the process.

5. Self-reliance.

Knowing you can grow your own food provides a level of self-reliance few other hobbies can. When I see basil at the store for $5 for just a few dried leaves, I can laugh knowing I just have to head home and cut some off the plant on my windowsill. Gardening keeps you aware of what the food marketers are trying to pull on all of us.

What have YOU learned from getting your hands in some dirt?