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.

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 3.13.55 PM

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

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 3.14.32 PM

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 3.14.25 PM

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 3.03.12 PM

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).

Do The Best You Can

After my last grocery haul, I got home and realized some of the products were not products I really meant to buy.

Some were from companies I don’t support.
Some were not nearly as “healthy” as the label claims.
Some of these foods have ingredients I always try to avoid.

After being upset and debating walking all the way back to the store to return everything, I took my dog out and thought about it for a second.

Here’s the thing, sometimes we need to just relax.

Yes, it’s important to continue to give money to amazing companies and healthy products.

At the same time, we’re all just trying the best we can.

Some days everything goes well, and some days it doesn’t.

All that matters is that you never give up.

Earth Month 2016 Celebration Ideas

Christian_Joudrey_Unsplash

Photo by Christian Joudrey from Unspalsh

Today is Earth Day, and although every day should be Earth Day, this is a good time to go through our lives and see if we’re helping or hindering the environment with our choices.

I know I personally have a lot of things to go continue to adjust, especially as I learn more things about companies and the things they try to sneak under the eye of the public.

While it seems like one person changing their habits won’t have a huge impact, when a lot of people collectively make a lifestyle change, the impact is huge. Don’t underestimate your influence on your friends, family, and community.

Here are some easy solutions this month for small habit changes:

Reducing plastic use

From our food packaging, to our bathroom items, to our childcare products, and everything in-between, plastic is in all of it.

While plastic seemed like a good, cheap alternative in the beginning to other options like glass and wood, it ended up being disastrous for the planet and our health.

Here are 11 more easy options from Treehugger to reduce your daily plastic use: here.

Simply Straws, a glass straw company, is giving away a free straw this month if you pledge against plastic on your social media account.

Cutting down on water use

“According to the U.S. Geological Survey the average person uses between 80-100 gallons of water per day and estimates that 95% of the water we use, goes down the drain (1). So we waste 76-95 gallons per day per person.” Source: Here.

That is an insane amount of water.

Walk or car pool

Living in downtown Denver has made it incredibly easy to walk where I need to go, but it’s interesting how many people I talk to that refuse to walk anywhere even if it’s just a few blocks away.

Grow your own herbs or plants

I have a whole post on this: here.

Spend time in nature

There is a ton of research on the benefits of spending time in nature, and Earth Day is a perfect opportunity to receive all the benefits from being outside.

Only recycle

The average American throws away 4.5 lbs. of trash a day. Try to make today at zero. Only recycle today, or better yet, aim for zero trash at all.

Buy from a farmers market

Items from a farmers market are usually more nutrient dense, but did you also know buying from a farmers market can help the environment?

Donate to a cause that matters to you

There are thousands of organizations across the world that work hard to save the environment. If you have anything to spare, a lot of those organizations could always use your help. Make today the day.

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:

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 1.47.48 PM Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 1.47.01 PM

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:

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 3.15.53 PM

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!

If you would like more posts like this, please subscribe! You’ll get posts like this and other tips on how to live a self-sufficient life delivered right to your inbox.

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?

Gardening to save money

Gardening has many perks besides having a whole selection of food on your patio. Apparently other major seed companies have seen the growth in popularity as they have all seen an increase in sales since the economy started to tank a few years ago.

I’ll be the first to admit that gardening takes time, but any worthwhile investment does to start.

I was just at the store the other day, and tomatoes were going for about $1.50 a pound. Now, that’s not the best price I’ve ever seen, but as someone who has gardened for a long time, that is just crazy. To put it in perspective, a packet of organic seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds (my favorite company ever), is $3.45. A packet of seeds generally has about 40 seeds, and each one of those seeds will easily grow pounds and pounds of tomatoes.

Let’s say that you buy about 5 pounds a month of tomatoes for the summer (May – Sept). That comes out to $37.50 for the cost of tomatoes for you for the summer. (plus we’re not even talking about organic tomatoes which is now $2.50/lb.) I know that’s not a huge crazy amount, but that’s only one specific food we’re talking about there.

Not to mention, who wouldn’t want to find ways to save money, bond with their family, and eat healthier?

What is the Dirty Dozen?

You may or may not have heard of something called “The Dirty Dozen”. (No, not that kind of dirty. Sorry.)

The dirty dozen is basically the 12 fruits and veggies that you should try to get organic because they tend to have the most pesticides on them. How do they get the most? Well, usually this occurs because the skin is thinner than the other fruits and veggies out there, so the chemicals can seep through easier.

Here is the list according to organic.org of the 12 most contaminated:
-Peaches
-Apples
-Sweet Bell Peppers
-Celery
-Nectarines
-Strawberries
-Cherries
-Pears
-Grapes (Imported)
-Spinach
-Lettuce
-Potatoes

They also included a list of the 12 least contaminated:
-Onions
-Avocado
-Sweet corn (Frozen)
-Pineapples
-Mango
-Asparagus
-Sweet peas (frozen)
-Kiwi fruit
-Bananas
-Cabbage
-Broccoli
-Papaya

Winter gardening in Colorado

Most people think that once winter comes, the gardening season is over, but that simply isn’t true! There are quite a few crops that can survive through the winter, especially considering the abundant amount of sunshine we get in this state.

Here are some examples of simple, easy-to-grow plants that survive in the winter:
-Beets
-Broccoli
-Cabbage (The cooler the weather, the sweeter it gets)
-Cauliflower
-Kale
-Onions
-Spinach
-Potatoes
-Winter squash

Just make sure to be extra safe and cover them on those nights where the weather dips below freezing and they should be just fine!

Not to mention, there are so many options if you want to do a mini container garden inside your house! Keep up with this blog and we’ll be going deeper into all kinds of vegetables, herbs, and fruits and their importance.

Anyone else have any winter gardening in Colorado tips?

Why you should garden

I hear this all the time: “Why should I garden?” “Doesn’t it take a long time?” “I don’t know what I’m doing.” “I can just buy my food at the store.”

Let me explain to you why these are all horrible arguments for not gardening, and more importantly, why you should start.

1. In this hectic pace we all seem to live at, gardening forces us to slow down and simply enjoy the scenery. With all the crazy stress that can lead to severe problems, it’s important to find a hobby that makes us take a step back and breathe for a minute. Gardening also forces you to get outside (or bring the outside inside if you have a container garden inside your home). At first it may be weird for some people to dig around in the dirt, especially if you’re brand new to gardening, but after a while you will see that it really helps you relax and start to feel like a kid again. Plus, you truly can’t make gardening happen fast. Nature goes at its own pace so no matter how rushed you feel, it is a good reminder that some things need patience.

2. Gardening is a great hobby that you can do with the whole family. Kids especially seem to love gardening especially when it comes to being able to see something grow. It’s a great first step to show them how their work can pay off. You’ll see it in their face the moment they eat their first fruit or vegetable that they grow.

3. A packet of seeds is only a few dollars. That one packet of seeds will usually contain plenty of seeds so you will be able to grow a good handful of plants (and if you have a small amount of space, one packet will last you a few seasons). Now go to a store and you’ll see that even one pound of tomatoes costs more than the packet that could provide you with tomatoes all summer! People are always talking about ways to save money at the grocery store, but gardening cuts out the store completely and you’ll feel the difference in your wallet.

4. When you garden from home, you don’t have to wonder what kind of pesticides/herbicides are all over your food because you are in complete control of that. You can even go the extra length and put organic dirt in your garden and buy organic seeds. Plus fruits and veggies grown in your own backyard just simply taste better. Grow some and try it for yourself!

5. Gardening counts as exercise. If you really get into it and spend a few hours outside a week pulling up weeds, moving plants around, trimming them, picking veggies… it will definitely get you sweating!

What other benefits from gardening have you found?

Welcome to Let the World Grow!

I’d like to personally welcome you to Let the World Grow.

Let the World Grow has been an idea in the back of my mind for some time. I started gardening on my own when I was in middle school. It was a passion that slowly but surely grew on me throughout the years and now with the economy the way it is, I am more passionate about it than ever.

So, here’s my plan: I want to see a garden in every backyard and patio of lower and middle-income families across America.

Every time I step foot in a grocery store and see the food prices (especially for organic food), it upsets me beyond belief. One tomato is now the cost that a packet of 50 seeds would cost you. Honestly, gardening isn’t that hard of work. It’s not like most people have acres and acres of land, so you’re only managing a very small area, and I’m here to help.

I don’t personally come from a lot of money and every summer my Mom and I would save so much money just on the food we were able to grow. Keep in mind, we only had about a 10′ x 3′ area of space and we had enough to give baskets away every week!

It kills me to see people having to get lower quality food simply because they can’t afford the better, healthier food.

So, hi, I’m Jackie. And I plan to help you provide healthy, natural, organic food for your own family at a lower cost than you ever thought was possible.