DIY Garden Health Household sustainability Sustainable

Start a garden

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN STARTING AN URBAN GARDEN

 

It’s planting season in Phoenix!  Do you know what to plant?  Where to plant?  How to plant?

There are so many questions when it comes to starting your urban garden – or as I like to call it – your medicine cabinet and grocery store.  And you will read all sorts of articles telling you dozens of things you need to do to be successful.  But it really doesn’t have to be that hard or expensive… especially if you know the basics.

So we came up with our top things you need to know when starting your urban garden:

  1. RESEARCH – This includes looking at a planting calendar to know what to plant in your area. And once you figure out what grows when, choose things you really will use.  Research images of what the plant will look like in your garden, how much space the plant needs, best temperatures for germination, etc.  Seed packets will give you the basics.  Don’t limit your research only to online searches.  Social media gardening groups are awesome and local nurseries can be extremely helpful.
  2. START SMALL – Doing too much gets discouraging and causes many of us to quit. Gardening doesn’t have to be hard.  4×4 is a perfect starting point for a garden and so easy to build a garden bed yourself.  Home improvement stores will cut your wood to your specified size and you can use blocks to simply place the wood slabs inside.  It’s a simple process, especially if you want to avoid cutting and drilling, etc.
  3. PREPARE YOUR BED – Grass and weeds can be one of your biggest enemies. We put cardboard at the bottom of our beds to help stop the grass.  We also have a lot of gophers in the area so we also put chicken wire at the bottom.  Fill your bed with soil… add compost…. Soil and water are the basics that will help your garden thrive or die.
  4. SAVE MONEY ON SEEDS—1st garden will be most expensive but should be the only time you have to spend money buying all of your seeds because you can save them each season.

There are lots of seed banks at libraries and other local places that may offer free seeds. 

All seeds are NOT created equal, so look for GMO Free, heirloom, open-pollinated seeds so that you can continue to save the seeds each season. 

  1. GROW WHAT YOU’LL USE – Whether it’s food or medicine, if you’re watering it, you want to use it. If you won’t eat brussel sprouts, don’t plant brussel sprouts.  Can’t sleep?  Plant chamomile for tea.  Got a cut?  Plant aloe. You’d be surprised at how many natural remedies you’ll find in your garden (ADD NATURAL REMEDIES  LINK)
  2. CREATE MICROCLIMATES AND KEEP IT ORGANIC – Planting all of the same families in the same bed means they’re all competing for the same nutrients and attracting all of the same bugs. So mix things up.  That will also create a cooler environment and help keep your garden naturally organic , especially if you consider companion planting.  
  3. PUT WATER ON A TIMER—one of biggest things to kill gardens is water so you don’t want to have to constantly think about if you’re over or under watering. Set a timer for your water —- regardless of the type of sprinkling system you choose.

OLLAS are another option for watering… my favorite because it takes guesswork out of watering. 

  1. FEED YOUR GARDEN—we fertilize about every 2 weeks with homemade worm tea, compost mix, etc. Again, don’t freak out if you’re not composting, you can buy fertilizers when you’re first starting – ONE THING AT A TIME.  Again garden groups are great for where to buy what, where to find sales, tricks of the trade, etc.
  2. BE PATIENT, STAY POSTIVE AND ENJOY THE RIDE—Everything will NOT grow and some things will look great one day and be falling over the next. It’s about trial and error, learning your soil, your garden.  Trust me, the rewards make it all worth it.  The flavor of the food is richer, you know exactly what you’re getting, you’re saving money, lowering your carbon footprint, growing your own meds… the benefits just keep coming.
  3. TREAT YOUR GARDEN LIKE YOUR FAMILY – If you’re thirsty, you need water. So do your plants.

If you’re cold, you may need a blanket.  If you’re hot, you may want shade. Same with your plants. I talk to my plants, sing to them… not sure if that makes them happy.  The peace of being in the garden in priceless, so spend time in nature, learn your garden (family) and mother nature will do the rest.

 

We have all sorts of DIY videos helping you throughout your journey.   Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions because we are all in this together.  It’s a lifestyle that keeps on giving.

sustainability

TOP APPS FOR SUSTAINABLE LIVING

Living sustainably may sound daunting but it doesn’t have to be!  I found six apps sure to cut the work on your behalf substantially. Try out any of these apps and you’ll be on your way to a greener life!

  1. OLIO

A dating app but for the food in your fridge. The OLIO app connects you with people in your area who are trying to reduce food waste.  How? By sharing any over abundance of groceries, cleaning products or anything that could potentially go unused. All you do is take photos of the item you’d like to share and your neighbor’s can connect with you to arrange a pickup time. They have even adapted to the pandemic by adding a safety guide so that you can continue giving your neighbors a hand in the safest way.

OLIO is free and available on iOS and Android.

FUN FACT – Olio is a traditional Spanish stew created in order to prevent food waste.

  1. NoWaste

No Waste almost seems like a second grocery scanner. It literally has a scanner that you use on the barcodes of your groceries to catalog them and be able to access your fridge through your phone. There’s no need to buy anything and if it doesn’t have your grocery in the database you can simply type in the expiration date that way not one thing is lost or gone to waste. When you finish any of your food you go in and note that it has been completely consumed and the best feature it has is the “Consumption” tab that will keep track of the percentage of the food you buy has been consumed and the percentage that has gone to waste overall. A great app if you are looking to hold yourself more accountable in reducing food waste!

Sorry Android users, this free app is only available on iOS right now.

  1. iRecycle

It’s no secret… it’s better for our environment to recycle things versus tossing them in the trash to end up in our landfills.  The problem for many of us is knowing exactly what to recycle and where.

iRecycle makes finding those recycling centers so easy.

It’s a free app that uses your phone’s GPS to find the nearest location to recycle what you are trying to get rid of.

There is a huge list of items, everything from batteries, to hazardous materials, to paper and electronics… some things you never thought to recycle.

Click on the item you’d like to recycle and the app pulls up a registry of locations that recycles the item.  You’ll get the location’s address, phone number, website and a list of what is accepted.

Of all the locations I’ve chosen, the information has been current.  But these days, things can change very quickly.  So to be safe, I suggest calling or visiting the company’s website to ensure the information is accurate.

  1. Seasonal Food Guide site and app

 Seasonal Food Guide is a simple way to know what your body needs right now!  It tells you what foods are in season in your state each month.

Eating food that is in season gives you the best options for taste and nutrition.  Did you know that food contains its maximum amount of vitamins when it’s in season?  It also has more flavor, is better for the community, and has a lower carbon footprint because it doesn’t require as much transportation, refrigeration, etc. to go from the farm to your table.

Back to the Seasonal Food Guide;  it’s a free site and app.

It’s very easy to use; No need to sign up, just choose your state, the month and food you’re looking for.  You can also choose your favorite foods and the site will tell you when they are in season and the best way to choose the food.

For example, ever wonder how to know the watermelon you choose is at its ripest, sweetest moment?  According to the Seasonal Food Guide, you want to look for darker, green melons that feel heavy and sound hollow when tapped.

If you’re considering planting your own food, we have a planting calendar with everything from when to plant what, when to harvest and tips on planting.

  1. Foodprint 

This site is an extension of the Seasonal Food Guide.  It gives you even more insight into your food! It’s like an encyclopedia on the foods you choose, including the benefits, how to choose it, how to cook it, even store it.  Footprint also gives you fun facts, the sustainability of the food and it helps you figure out your “foodprint” and how to reduce it.

  1. . PlantSnap

 Starting a garden or planting trees are at the top of the list when it comes to lowering your carbon footprint.  The trees remove carbon dioxide from the air, store it in the trees and soil, and releases oxygen back into the atmosphere.

PlantSnap helps you identify plants, trees, flowers, even weeds… you’d be surprised at how many nutritious, edible weeds you may have growing right in your yard!

But if you don’t know the names of these greens, you don’t really know how to care for it.

This can also help you figure out which plants are edible and which you should not ingest.

To use the app, just snap a photo or use an existing photo from your image gallery.  The app will give you the best possible matches.

PlantSnap also plants new trees when we share photos!

This app is free, although they do have a paid version that gets rid of ads and avoids the daily snap restriction of 25.  You also need to register for an account to use the app.

If you’d like to start your own plant oasis, we have a planting calendar that shows you the best time to plant your favorite veggies, along with tips to help ensure a successful harvest.

These may all seem like small steps, which is the point of making sustainability more feasible.  I believe that every conscious choice helps get us closer to zero waste and makes lowering our carbon footprint more likely.

What new apps are you using to help you reduce waste?  Email me! I’d love to try them out!