Growing Staple Foods in Home Garden

Food staples are foods that we eat regularly. Ironically, though they make up the dominant part of our diet, they are rarely grown in home garden. For anyone interested in food self-sufficiency, growing them is a must. This article covers the most common plant-based food staples that are practical for small-scale plantings.


Potatoes are a food staple in Europe and parts of the Americas. They can be harvested 70 to 90 days after planting, depending on the variety. The plants are very adaptable. Many home gardeners have successfully grown potato plants in garden beds and containers. This also makes harvesting easier since all the tubers are in one place. Though they may not be the basis of your diet, potato chips and potato salad may sound good to you. You may also want to rely less on rice and grains. Though rice is easy to grow and maintain (depending on the region), an average size of backyard would not yield enough for our table.


Corn is one of the most important staple foods in the world. In North America, corn seed were planted together with beans and squash. The three plants support each other in their life cycle. Corn is not drought tolerant. It prefers soil that is nitrogen rich to grow well. The good news is you can grow lots of corn in a small space. In fact, to maximize pollination, it is recommended to plant corn in blocks close together. A 3’ x 3’ area is large enough to grow 9 stalks. It only takes 80-90 days from seed to harvest. It is just a matter of selecting the right varieties. Corn or often called maize can be used in a variety of ways. It can be boiled, fried or baked.


This versatile staple food was first domesticated in the Middle East. Today, it serves as a primary staple crop in many countries. Wheat will yield 40-50 bushels (1 bushel = 60 pounds) per acre (43560 sq ft). A bushel of wheat is more than enough to make 50 1-pound loaves of bread. That means for less than 1000 sq ft, you can eat a loaf of bread every week for a year. Wheat is harvested once or twice a year. The dry grains can be stored for long periods of time. Warm and cool season varieties are available. Wheat may not be the easiest staple to grow in a backyard garden. That said, if you are planning to incorporate more grains into your diet, then planting your own can be a great route to take.


Also known as yuca, tapioca and manioc, cassava is a staple crop for many people living in tropical climates. The plant is very pest resistant and tolerant of a wide range of soils. Just like potato, cassava develops underground and out of sight. It is also incredibly versatile. The tuberous root is usually harvested after eight months after planting. Harvest time is very flexible that makes it suitable to be a back up crop. Maturing leaves can also be consumed. Within two months, the leaves are ready to consume. The plants are propagated from cuttings of their branches. If you are looking for a fast growing plant that can be a hedge, then cassava is a good candidate.


In terms shape and texture, plantain is very similar to banana. Both are members of the Musa genus. However, plantain fruit contains more starch and less sugar than banana. It has a high carbohydrate content and can be prepared in many ways. The herbaceous plant grows best in tropical climates. The largest producers are African countries. Plantain, though can be a great substitute for rice, do not provide quick yields. It takes longer than a year to produce fruit after planting. However, depending on where you live, growing plantain as a secondary staple is something worth trying. From the backyard perspective, it is still doable.

For foody gardeners who like to landscape with only edible plants, it really makes sense to raise staple foods. Though an average backyard will not produce enough foods for everyday consumption, it can help increase our household’s food security. Just keep in mind that every region has its own challenges. Consult the specialist to get the right direction.

Palm Tree Choices For Home Garden

When it comes to palm trees, there are so many to choose from. Lots of varieties are available. To pick the right one, some factors need to think about. Here are some of them:

What Palm Trees Produce Fruit?

Most palm fruits are edible. However, it does not mean that all are pleasant to consume. Also keep in mind that not all varieties of fruit can be eaten raw. The familiar ones are coconuts and dates. Coconut palm (Cocos nucifera) is very popular. Coconut water makes a natural, refreshing drink. The nutmeat has many culinary uses. The tree, unfortunately, can grow up to 100 feet tall. Obviously it is not a choice for a greenhouse or a small back yard. Further, to produce fruit, coconuts need a daily temperature above 72 F. Dwarf palm varieties are available. They grow tall slowly and start bearing fruit early. For people who are into edible palm trees, another option is to grow date palms. Out of the varieties of date palms, the true date (Medjool) is the most sought after. The cold hardy palm is known for its tasty delicious fruits. Mature trees reach heights from 40 to 50 feet.

Palm Trees That Grow Indoors

The fact that palm tress can act as a natural humidifier and detoxifier make them excellent indoor plants. They can help remove carbon monoxide and replace the air with fresh oxygen. Though many palms need to be planted in a sunny location, some species are more tolerant of shade. They grow very well indoors. The kentia palm (Howea forsteriana), for instance, is considered the toughest of all indoor palm trees. The slow growing palm will thrive in low-light situations. The slender trunk and arching, feathered leaves make it a wonderful specimen to grow as ornamental. The pygmy date (phoenix roebelenii) is another gorgeous palm that does well indoors. It grows to a maximum height of only 10 feet. The fronds have sharp needle-like spikes, so it may not be a good choice for a high-trafficked area. However, it cannot be argued that it is the sharp spines that make for an astonishing view.

Palm Trees That Tolerate Cold

Most palms are tropical in origin. Some species, however, live and thrive in cold conditions. The sabal minor, for instance, has remarkable cold tolerance. The species of palmetto palm can be seen in northern regions where temperatures are not so forgiving. Dwarf palmettos reach heights under 10 feet at maturity. They grow very slow and do well in shade. The characteristics make it an excellent companion to larger palm trees. Pindo palm (Butia capitata) is another commonly grown palm in colder regions. It produces edible fruit that can be eaten fresh. The fruit can be made into jam or jelly. People have also made wine from pindo palm. Other cold weather palms that can be found in nurseries include windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) and beaked yucca (Yucca rostrata). The sago palm (Cycas revoluta) is also well known for its ability to withstand cold. It is actually not a palm, but a cycad. But with similar characteristics, it will easily create a tropical feel to any environment.

Palm Trees That Stay Short

Many palms do not grow tall. They reach heights under 20 feet at maturity. The lady palm (Rhapis excelsa), for instance, only grow to 7 to 8 feet. This makes it an excellent addition to a relatively small yard. Lady palm trees are often grown indoors or in shade. With deep green foliage, it can be a great choice for people who want to add life to a room. The jade empress (Rhapis multifida) is another variety that should be considered. It also grows in a bushy appearance and serves well as a decorative house plant. Talking about low growing palms, not all of them are shrub-like. The pygmy date, for instance, grows up from a single trunk. Other varieties that grow in the same way are bottle palm, spindle palm and parlor palm. On average, they all grow under 12 feet tall. Those shorter palms are perfect for residential gardens with height restrictions.

Natural Privacy Wall

A lot of palm tress are worthy of growing for landscape purposes. They can give a sense of the tropics with little cost. A number of palm trees can also serve well as living wall or privacy fence. The areca palm that shares similar traits as the bamboo palm is perfect to be used in this application. It is considered an easy palm to take care of. It is also very cost effective. Its fast-growing nature makes it a great choice for people who want to quickly establish a natural privacy fence for their landscape. Mature trees reach approximately 20-30 feet high. Not too short and not too tall. The dense foliage can be very useful to protect areas of a property from noise and traffic. Areca palms are often mass planted to create an even better privacy screen. Depending on what you want to achieve, the needle palm can also be a good choice. It has a similar look to the lady palm. But with a bushier growing habit, planting multiple needle palms is another easy way to create a solid wall of foliage.

3 Tips For Composting Food Waste At Home

Composting is nothing new. Using organic matter to augment the soil is an age-old practice. For homeowners, it can be a great way to handle kitchen scraps. Food waste is composed of organic matters. It is easy to degrade. That said, there are a number of variables that should be considered for fast, safe compost production.

Type Of Composter

If you have some outdoor space, consider to get a rotating compost tumbler. It will allows you to make compost faster. Rotating the tumbler regularly will promote good air exchange. As you know, decomposition happens in the presence of bacteria. For aerobic bacteria to remain active, an adequate oxygen supply is needed. Poor oxygen supply will slow the composting process. Foul odors can form. Aerobic organisms also need moisture to accomplish the decomposition process. A drum/tumbler system will allows you to easily keep compost moist evenly. If you live in a suburban or rural area, a simple enclosed bin or a compost digester could work for you. Many products in the market come with pest proof compartments. The enclosed compartment will cut down on odors seeping out. Open compost pile is not a good choice if you compost mostly kitchen scraps. For people living in urban areas, vermicomposting can be a great solution. Worms convert kitchen waste into nutrient rich organic fertilizer. Worm bins have a small footprint. This solution makes it possible for you to compost year-round, indoors or outdoors.

Compostable Food Scraps

Though it is true that all food scrap items are basically compostable, there are ones that should not be composted. Meat, oil, and dairy should not be put in the compost pile. High protein and fatty food, including fish scraps attract pests. They will easily produce very unpleasant odors, a big concern in urban and suburban areas. Worse, they may contain dangerous bacteria. Food cooked in oil or cooked with fat or butter can turn mushy. Some people reported that they had no real issue with animal products getting into the compost. However, it is best to stick with plant-based scraps for the start. If you are looking for a solution to get rid of food scraps of all kinds, the Green Cone Solar Waste Digester is worth taking a closer look. It is a food waste disposal unit, meaning it does not produce compost for garden use. Another alternative is to use Bokashi composting. The process works by fermenting your food scraps using special bacteria.

Adding Extra Materials

Compost will develop faster once optimal aerobic conditions are established. Though all organic materials will break down eventually, the process might take much longer without proper conditions. To achieve ideal conditions, there are a number of factors that should be considered. Carbon-to-nitrogen ratio is one thing that should be managed in order to achieve rapid, aerobic composting. Ideally, the ratio is 30:1. When the nitrogen content is too high (low C:N ratio), the excess nitrogen will lost in the form of ammonia. Fruit and vegetable scraps are generally high in nitrogen. To lower the overall ratio of nitrogen, add carbon-rich materials (e.g. branches, stems, dried leaves) to the pile. The C:N ratio of common compost materials can be found in many sites. With simple equations, you can determine what extra materials to add and how much. If you have 5 pounds of vegetable waste (C:N ratio = 12:1), for instance, you can mix it with 9 pounds of dry leaves (C:N ratio = 40:1) to keep a healthy balance of carbon and nitrogen. In the real world, it is impossible for the average home owner to get a perfect, well-balanced mix. The materials we need may not be available. Furthermore, age of materials affect the ratio. A simple solution is to just add an equal amount of carbon-rich materials to the pile. Adding those extra materials is also important to prevent the pile from becoming too soggy. High carbon materials often are dry while food waste has high water content. When it comes to composting, it is best if different materials, wet and dry, are mixed together. Excess moisture encourages aerobic decomposition, with the accompanying odor and acidity problems.

Composting food scraps at home is not a hard thing. In the reality, you can just throw your food scraps into a compost bin and still end up with compost. Furthermore, there is no exact recipe for creating perfect compost. But by putting more effort to meet the optimal conditions for aerobic composting, some potential issues can be avoided.

Tips For Selecting The Right Companion Plants For Your Garden

Companion planting is not a new thing. It has long been known that certain plant species have mutually beneficial effects when they are planted together. Each plays a part in the system. In many places in the world, people apply the agricultural knowledge to improve the yield of food crops. Definitely, the planting method can also be applied on a smaller scale. If you are into home food production, interplanting compatible crops will allow you to use garden space efficiently. There are some considerations, however, before adding new plants to your garden.

Before anything else, think about what you want to achieve. Think in terms of which plants can help the existing ones grow. If you are growing fruit trees, you can try to plant beans beneath them. Beans will interact positively with fruit trees by adding nitrogen to the soil. In North America, corn, beans and squash are planted together for better yields. Taller corn support beans, and in return, beans provide atmospheric nitrogen to the corn and squash. The broad leaves of squash create healthy ground cover, preventing the loss of moisture in the soil. Lupin, wildflower which is actually a legume, can also be used to fix nitrogen for your trees’ high needs.

If you are into veggies, intercropping radishes with lettuce is something worth trying. Lettuce, as you know, is one of the easiest plants to grow from seed. Not only it is an easy plant to grow and maintain, the leafy green can yield more than one crop per season. More than that, the leaves of the plant will serve as a living mulch to prevent moisture evaporation, helping the other plants get established.

Some people employ mixed plantings in order to minimize pest problems. The use of living plants to discourage harmful insects is definitely a great way to reduce the need for chemical treatments. Garlic, for example, is a good companion for tomatoes, as it can act as a natural repellent for red spider mites. Garlic, as well as onions, also makes a good team with fruit trees. They repel fruit tree borers that attack the woody parts of apple and pear trees. Onions and garlic are also beneficial as a pest repellent for insect pests that favor celery and carrots.

Another purpose of companion planting is to attract pollinators. Flowers like Spring bulbs, for example, can help with pollination by attracting bees. Talking about pollination, it is worth noting that fruit trees are either self-pollinating or require a pollinating partner to successfully bear fruit. If you are growing apples or pears, the technique of multiple planting may be needed for fertilization to occur. When choosing a good companion for them, you can simply opt to plant another cultivar of the same species to meet their pollination requirements.

While it is true that mixed planting offers various advantages, it is important to know what not to grow. To minimize nutrient competition, it is best to select species with different structures of roots. Cabbage, for example, goes well with carrot as they have different rooting patterns. Also do not forget that some plants can be somewhat invasive. Pairing cabbage family plants with strawberries is not a good idea. The rapid growth of strawberry may offend your older plants. Chemical or flavor interactions is another thing to consider. Growning onions and beans in the same spot is something to avoid.

When it comes to companion planting, many relationships have not been scientifically verified. Furthermore, there is no one magic solution. Like borage, marigold seems to benefit a wide variety of plants. It discourages various harmful insects. Even so, not all plants will tolerate its presence. With all that being said, growing a diverse mix of plants is usually beneficial. Your own experiments with different combinations and arrangements will in the end help you create a harmonious garden. Many resources are available which can be a good starting point.

5 Ancient Farming Practices That Are Worth Trying

It is always interesting to see the advancements of modern gardening practices. But that does not mean that older methods of planting can be forgotten. A number of centuries-old techniques can still be adapted by small-scale farmers or home gardeners for better plant growth. Here are some of them:

Floating Garden
The idea of floating garden has existed long long time ago. Aztec Indians are believed to have implemented this farming method for their crops. According to historians, sand-covered rafts served as floating gardens where squash and beans were grown. This creates an efficient delivery system for water and nutrients. The system is self-watering and self-fertilizing. Fish bring nutrient rich water to the plants while plants create food for the fish. More than that, it is very productive. This age old method of planting can also be a great way to protect crops from animals. For those with lakes or ponds, this proven old technique is definitely worth considering.

Clay Pot Irrigation
Watering can be a tricky thing. But in today’s world, modern devices exist that allow you to more efficiently use water. Water timers and controllers come in many different configurations. Some even allow you to control irrigation based on weather patterns. However, you may prefer to use a more traditional method of irrigation. If so, thenn this centuries-old technique is worth trying. The concept is simple. Unglazed, burried clay pots are used to provide constant drip irrigation. The porous nature of clay pots allows water to seep through the wall of the burried pots when the soil dries. Plants are grown around the base of the pot. Because the water source is in the ground, this little known watering system can help reduce water loss through evaporation.

The Incan terrace farming system is known to be very productive and efficient in terms of water use. Today’s gardeners can tap into this ancient strategy to make the most productive use of their sloping gardens. Leveling or terracing a sloping garden helps reduce erosion and allow rainwater to seep into the soil. It also makes gardening easier. Since it allows planting at different levels, you can irrigate different areas at different times. A great way to create several mini-gardens in your backyard. Terracing a sloping yard may not be as easy as it sounds. Every garden is unique and requires a different build approach. However, it is well worth the effort. A range of materials — treated wood, bricks, rocks — can be used to form the retaining walls.

Lithic Mulching
As the name implies, lithic mulch or rock garden is to cover the ground with a layer of stones. Ancient Rapanui people are believed to have implemented this strategy to reduce soil erosion from wind and water. Prehistoric lithic-mulch gardens also have positive effects on soil moisture and soil temperature. Compared to bare soil, less water evaporates from lithic-mulched soil. Unlike organic mulches, lithic mulchs do nothing to improve soil structure. That said, using this strategy, fluctuations in soil temperature can be reduced. The rock material acts as a solar collector during the day and then releases that heat energy into the soil at night. It also prevents soil temperature from becoming too hot during the day. This is possible because rough surface increases wind turbulence.

This soil-building method was first discovered by Amazonian tribes. Basically, Biochar is produced by slowly burning organic matter under oxygen starved conditions. The porous nature of biochar enables soil to retain water and plant nutrients much longer than unimproved soil. It also serves as a habitat for many beneficial organisms. Another environmental benefit of biochar is that it is carbon negative, meaning it can keep carbon out of the atmosphere. There is scepticism about the effectiveness of biochar as a soil enhancer and a reliable carbon storage. As a gardener, it is up to you whether or not to adapt this ancient knowledge to the needs of your land.

5 Tips For Low Cost Greenhouse Gardening

A well-designed greenhouse can help you grow a wide range of plants during unfavorable conditions. Unfortunately, setting up and operating a greenhouse can be a costly endeavor. If you have thought about having a greenhouse, there are ways to keep your expenses to a minimum.

A solid foundation will make your greenhouse more secure and stable. However, though it is desirable in some circumstances, a greenhouse foundation is actually not a necessity. Many greenhouses are installed as a free-standing unit and sit on compacted soil. Just be sure the ground is flat and level, and the frame is well anchored down to prevent weather damage. A solid concrete pad can be quite expensive. Unless you are planning to build a large unit, there is no need to spend money on unnecessary materials.

When it comes to framing greenhouses, there are a wide variety of materials to choose from. Each have their own benefits and drawbacks. Aluminum does not offer good insulation value. However, it is relatively inexpensive. Unlike steel, it will not rust or erode. A good option for you looking for a very low-maintenance material. PVC is a cheaper option to alumunium. As with aluminium, it is lightweight and easy to work with. UV-treated PVC is long-lasting. Many hobby greenhouses sold in kits come with PVC frames. Unless you garden in a very windy location, building a greenhouse out of PVC pipes can be a great route to take.

Greenhouse coverings are made of many different materials, including glass, polycarbonate, polyethylene, and acrylic. They are available in various thicknesses. Polyethylene is the least expensive option. Polyethylene film and PVC pipe are often used for constructing hobby-type backyard greenhouses. Glass and acrylic, though are best for multi-year applications, are very expensive. In houses with double glazing, the difference in up-front cost can be very large. Co-poly film is available in thicknesses of 3 mm, 4 mm, and 6 mm. The low-cost material is only good for one or two seasons. That said, greenhouse grade, UV protected polyethylene can last several years. For cold climates and heavy snow areas, you will definitely need more than thin polyethene plastic covering for your greenhouse. But for many of us, it is a good, cheap option to get started.

One primary purpose of a greenhouse is to extend the growing season. That said, heating a greenhouse can be expensive. To lower energy expenses, passive heating methods can be implemented. Thermal mass materials like water or stone can be used to store solar energy during the day and release that energy at night when the greenhouse drops in temperature. This natural heating method is very popular due to its low upfront cost. Compost pile heater is another common greenhouse heating system. This method takes advantage of the biological activity of aerobic bacteria that breaks down organic material and give off waste heat. These methods alone may not be sufficient for four-season operation. Some people who operate four-season greenhouses combine active and passive heating. However, the above mentioned heating systems can help provide increased warmth during the colder parts of the year.

There are ways to cool down a greenhouse without spending a lot of money. Depending on where you live, exhaust fans and passive ventilation may be all you need to extract the warm air out of the house. Shade cloth or materials that reflect radiation can be added to protect the house from the sun’s burning rays. When better cooling performance is needed, evaporative pad cooling system is one of the options available. As the name indicates, lowering temperature is accomplished through the use of fans and wet pads. The fans pull the air through the pads. When particles of water evaporate, the level of humidity will increase. This leads to a drop in temperature. This method provides the most benefits in dry climates.

Building a greenhouse, even a hobby-type unit, requires careful planning. To keep costs down, careful selection of materials needs to be made. Weather conditions, plants grown, and greenhouse location are important factors to consider. A well-designed greenhouse will prevent you from having to spend your hard-earned capital on expensive supplemental devices and reduce your energy requirements to a minimum.

If you can find an ideal southern location for your greenhouse and your greenhouse covering diffuses sunlight well, additional grow lights may not be needed. Proper roofing materials that create an evenly diffused light will also help keep your greenhouse moderately cool during hot days. This, along with strategically placed vents, can eliminate the need of an electric cooling system or at least help lower your electric bill.

Gardening In Sandy Soil – 3 Different Options

Gardening is a rewarding hobby. Unfortunately, not all of us are blessed with fertile soil. Many of us live in dry locations with high sand-content. As you know, sand particles are microscopically large. They cannot hold as much water. Organic matter is also limited in sandy soils. Even then there is hope. There are some solutions that can be employed to successfully establish a good garden in light soils.

Sand-Loving Plants

Though most plants grow best in soil a healthy loam, there are ones that do well in sandy soil. You can try to plant your garden with cacti and other succulents. They store water in their leaves or stems. If you prefer edible plants, root vegetables such as carrots and radishes are worth trying. Potatoes also thrive in acidic conditions that sandy soil provides. Watermelon which is a native of southern Africa can also be planted in loamy sand.

Improving Soil Structure

Mixing sandy soil with clay can improve its ability to retain water and nutrients. Soil will hold more moisture for a longer period of time, meaning you will use much less water. To promote plant growth, humus levels need to be built by adding soil with organic matter. Microbes will then turn it into nutrients. Better soil structure will develop over time. These days, compost machines are available in the market that you can use to turn leaves, grass cuttings, or kitchen waste into compost.

Sand Hydroponic System

Due to its advantages, sand is one type of growing media that is often used in hydroponic systems. An automatic system can be built by utilizing small sand beds. A pump that is controlled by a timer can be employed to distribute water and nutrients to the plants. In a wick system, two pots are used. One pot is filled with growing medium (sand) and the plant. The other pot acts as a nutrient reservoir. Inside the system is a fibrous wick that moves nutrient solution from the reservoir to the growing pot as the sand dries out. This system works through capillary action. Think about the rapid wetting and retention of liquids by absorbent paper and fabrics.

When it comes to sandy soil, there is no one magic solution. Different things will work for different people. One thing is sure, sandy soil is not a curse. There are always ways to successfully grow plants in high sand-content soil

4 Different Solutions For Home Food Production

There are many benefits of growing our own foods at home. Planting our own vegetables and culinary herbs is a great way to provide our family with healthy meals. We control what goes in and what does not. If you wish to start a food garden but always feel that you do not have the room, there are a number of growing systems that allow you to get more out of less space. Here are some of them:

Square Foot Gardening

Unlike traditional row planting, Square Foot Gardening requires minimal yard space. This planting method, which was developed by Mel Bartholomew in 1981, uses a small raised bed (typically 4 feet by 4 feet) as the growing area for your crops. The garden box is then divided into equal planting sections, allowing you to grow a variety of edible plants. A formula is used to calculate how many plants fit into each square. Put it simply, you plant by area instead of rows. It is also worth mentioning that Square foot gardening gives you the opportunity to plant in succession. The fact that the method can produce greater yields with much less space than traditional gardening makes it perfect for home food production. There are countless plant combinations that you can try. Numerous spacing guides are available online.


For urban gardeners who wish to enjoy a bountiful harvest of freshly grown vegetables, aquaponics can be a great solution. An aquaponics system works by converting fish waste that is rich in ammonia content into plant food with the help of bacteria. In other words, fish waste acts as fertiliser for your plants. The water, that initially contains fish waste, then returns to the fish tank purified. Simply put, fish, plants, and bacteria work together to create a healthy ecosystem. Creating and maintaining a well-balanced aquaponic system may not be as easy as setting up a regular soil garden. This gardening system involves a number of extra tasks that include feeding the fish and testing the ammonia level in the water. However, compared to conventional gardening, aquaponics offer higher productivity. Also remember that the plants grown in an aquaponics system are 100% organic. Another advantage is this gardening method uses less water. Many simple and quick solutions for aquaponics set up are available in the market to help you create a proper system.

Vertical Planting

Vertical gardening is becoming very popular these days. It is a simple way to boost growing space. Hanging baskets and trellises can be utilized to grow nutritious produce. There are plenty of advantages to vertical growing other than using less ground space. Infestations will be easily noticed since all are right in front of your face. Harvesting will be much easier too. Climbing vegs and fruits will happily thrive in a vertical garden. Of course, your options are not limited to plants that naturally climb. With the help of stackable planters, you can grow any vegetable that can adapt to containers. Many different ready to use products are available for you to try. Some incorporate automated hydroponics, allowing you to easily grow your own fresh food without soil. Utilizing soilless growing medium, such systems eliminate weeding and digging. The Tower Garden allows you to grow up to 20 edibles in less than three square feet. Featuring a compact design, the vertical aeroponic growing system can be placed virtually anywhere.

Urban Cultivator

If you are into indoor gardening then this product can be a great solution for you. Brought to the market by a Vancouver-based company, the indoor gardening appliance is designed to fit into any kitchen. The innovative product comes complete with removable grow drawers, humidity domes and grow lights, allowing you to easily turn your kitchen into a source of fresh greens and herbs. The company sells 100% organic, non-GMO seeds to their customers that include cabbage, chives, dill, komatsuna, fenugreek, arugula, sorrel, lettuce, basil, wheatgrass, and radish. Organic plant nutrients and compressed soil are also offered by the company. Urban Cultivator is a high-tech indoor growing system. Watering and light cycles are controlled by an intuitive computer interface. With all of the advanced features, the fully automated kitchen garden does not come cheap. That said, for health enthusiasts who want to experience fresh cut microgreens and herbs year-round, then buying the smart fridge-like apparatus can be a great move.

As you can see, it is not impossible to people with small areas of land to grow their own food. There are plenty of ways to make the most of the minimal yard space. The above systems can also be used by those living in areas with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Obviously, some crops are not the best fit for a home garden with limited space. However. With proper practice, even a small home garden can supply a good amount of fresh and clean food for personal home use.

10 Edible Fruits To Grow At Home – You May Have Too Many Options

The rewards of growing fruit-bearing trees are many. While many plants grow to be enormous in the wild, some are naturally small trees. Furthermore, many fruit tree varieties are now available in dwarf form, giving you more fruit growing options. They require less space than standard-size trees while still grow enough fruit for fresh eating. Clearly, there is a wide choice of suitable fruit trees for home gardeners. Just choose the ones that excel in your climate. Of course, you can try to modify the microclimate for the plants that are not naturally found in your region.

Most varieties of avocado grow to 40 feet in height so generally are unsuitable for small gardens. In optimum conditions, avocadoes can attain heights of 80 feet tall. Despite this, the true dwarf variety, Wurtz, only grows to about 10 feet. Wurtz (Little Cado) is suitable for growing in containers. The small variety can produce abundant fruits at early age.

Banana tree can be a great choice for adding a touch of the tropics to your home. Not all varieties produce edible fruit. The best known edible variety is the cavendish. It is also one of the best for cold climates. Cultivated banana plants are typically kept at a height of 16 ft. Dwarf cavendish banana grows as much as 10 feet. Super dwarf cavendish grows only 2-3 ft., making it suitable for indoor growing.

With attractive foliage and distinctive star shape fruit, it can be an attractive alternative for planting in the backyard. Carambola trees can grow up to 30 ft. However, they rarely reach that height. Small varieties such as Maher Dwarf are suitable for small backyard or container growing. Carambolas will also serve well as an espalier.

Grapevines may not be the easiest fruit to grow at home. Proper pruning is important for fruit production. However, a grapevine can be a very rewarding addition to your home garden. While it is true that grapevines can climb 80 feet or more in the wild, they need very little space if pruned carefully. The growth is also limited by the climbing structure’s height. Most varieties are self-fertile, meaning you do not need more than one plant for pollination. Vines are also known to have a very long lifespan (100 years or more).

Jackfruit is one of the largest fruit in the world. The trees are huge. They can reach up to 100 feet in their home tropical climate. That said, dwarf varieties like black gold stay between 8 and 10 feet tall. The Australian variety probably has the most cold hardiness, making it a good choice for subtropical climates.

Mangoes are fast-growing, especially in a hot climate. A mango tree can reach a height of 100 feet or more. Container growing is possible with grafted dwarf varieties. Pickering is probably the top choice when space is severely limited. With compact growth habit, the tree can be kept at a height of just 6 ft. Mangoes are self-fertile. A single tree will produce fruit without cross-pollination.

Papaya (Carica) exists in many areas throughout the world. This fast-growing shrub requires little maintenance. They are perfect for home gardeners who like to start growing fruit trees. Papayas are easy to grow from seed. Trees begin bearing after first year of growth. There are male, female and hermaphrodite papaya trees. The male will not produce fruit so you will want to sow more than one seed to ensure you will have a fruit-bearing tree. Like other fruits, there are a number of different varieties. The compact variety Waimanolo can bear fruit when only 4 feet tall, making it a great choice to grow around the home.

Pineapples grow to about 5 feet in height. Pineapples are easy to grow as houseplants. They grow well in sub-tropical and tropical climates. Pineapple plants do not need much water nor high quality soil. You can even keep the plants in containers and have them indoor. The roots do not need much space. Pineapple plant only fruits once. However, you can get a new fruit-producing plant easily by removing the crown of the fruit and planting it into the ground.

Also called chiku or sapote, Sapodilla trees can grow to more than 30 m tall. There are dwarf cultivars, however, that are well suited for home garden. A dwarf variety that is reportedly highly productive is called Silas Woods. It can be maintained at less than 5 feet in height. The Makok cultivar is another small compact grower that is worth trying.

Like most fruit, a standard-size watermelon requires a lot of garden space. If lack the garden space then miniature watermelon varieties, such as Sugar Baby are probably the best choice. This variety spreads just 3 to 4 feet. Some people even grow watermelon on a trellis, saving even more space.

As you can see, many tropics and subtropical edible plants can grow very large. That said, hybrids and cultivars exist that are not too tall for most home environments. Whether you live in the big city or rural property, there is always a place to be found in the garden for at least one fruit tree.

Smart Lighting Solutions For Growing Plants Indoors

Not everyone has access to outdoor garden. Fortunately, with today’s technological advancements, it is becoming much easier to grow houseplants indoors. When it comes to artificial light source, different solutions are available for replacing or supplementing natural sunlight. Here are some of them:

LightRail Light System On Rail

Plants need the energy of light to grow. Unfortunately, distributing light evenly can be fustrating. stationary grow light does not maximize light during photo period. This can lead to limited growth. Worse, the heat from static lighting can damage your plants. This is where the LightRail light mover comes in. Manufactured by Gualala Robotics, LightRail is simply an extension of your indoor plant lights. As the name implies, it is designed to move any indoor grow light. More leaves get light. Hot spots and shadows will be eliminated. Three versions are available, that include LightRail IntelliDrive 3.5, LightRail AdjustaDrive 4.0, and LightRail 5.0 Side by Side. The basic system consists of a motor, rail and hardware needed for hanging. The next model, LightRail 4.0 AdjustaDrive, has the added feature of adjustable speed control. Unlike the LightRail 3.5 that comes with a fixed setting, the drive motor can be set at 6rpm to 10rpm. The highest end model, LightRail 5.0, is shipped with a longer 8 foot rail.

Soybot Mobile Sun-seeking Robot

By combining art and agriculture, Purdue profs have designed a robotic device that helps indoor plants seek out light automatically. To detect sunlight or LED grow lights in a room, Soybot is equipped with two light sensors. The robot can also be guided by pointing flashlight beams to its sensors. Soybot is more than just a light-seeking robot. It is an artwork. In fact, the modified Roomba robot was originally designed for an art exhibition. When Soybot is part of an exhibit, its movements is plotted on a visualization window. Sensor data is also transmitted to the window to display variation in light intensity at different areas. As the
name implies, the planter box contains soybean plants that have long been recognized as a plant food. With an average protein content of 40%, soybeans are one of the world’s most important agricultural commodities. Their significance for global food production is one reason they were chosen for this project. Soybot is not the only robotic plant holder with a light-seeking directive. With the help of solar sensors, IndaPlant, a mobile potted plant developed by researchers from Rutgers University, can autonomously chase the sunlight around. The three-wheeled robot also comes equipped with moisture sensors that alert the owner when their plants need to be watered.

OGarden Rotating Indoor Garden

Countless automatic indoor gardening systems are readily available out there. What makes OGarden different from the rest is that it utilizes a slowly revolving wheel to get the job done. A grow light (125W CFL) that drives photosynthesis is placed in the center of the wheel. The unique design ensures all the plants get equal light exposure. It definitely helps to reduce lighting consumption. Roots grow in a coconut matting. They are automatically fed with organic liquid fertilizer. The wheel’s gravity effect supposedly leads to better plant growth. OGarden is designed to produce a continuous stream of fresh greens at home. Featuring circular design, it is able to grow up to 100 plants at a time. Despite its primary purpose, the rotary garden is small enough to fit into a corner of a room. It is worth noting that the first rotary garden was built by NASA to provide astronauts with fresh food. With all of its advantages, it could be a great solution for urban gardeners who want to grow more food with far less water, fertilizers, and energy.

There is no a cure-all solution to indoor gardening problems. But it cannot be argued that improvements in plant lighting offer many benefits for indoor growers. With innovative lighting solutions available today, our options for plants are not restricted to the ones that thrive in low-light conditions. No need to rotate the pots every week or two to ensure each side of the plants get the same amount of sunlight. The placement of the plants get much more flexible. Of course, such automatic lighting systems will also add excitement to your hobby.