In Defense of Home Hydroponics

25 May

 “Yes, but what about the garden?”

~ Library friend on moving into a smaller home.

Image captured from the Window Farm Project video on YouTube.  See below for video!

Image captured from the Window Farm Project video on YouTube. See below for video!


Though a smaller home does not necessarily mean a smaller yard, it is a fact most of us face.  Apartment dwellers, for one, and room mates, for another, often do not have yard access.  Or, if they do, it’s shared with other who let their delightful pets out for unsupervised walkies.

Once inside the home there is the added issues of space and light.  Or lack thereof.  Dorm living, smaller homes, and apartments  are notorious for lack of natural sunlight.  Which leaves the question: how does one grow a victory garden without light ???


There’s a certain amount of irony in discussing the benefits of buying a hydroponics system to garden with.  The current thought is that the type of garden being grown with these systems is the type of garden that gets smoked.  Small home gardeners of the non-cannabis variety often have to convince landlords that the machines being bought and plugged in are for edible delights of the nutritional type.  The irony?  The know-how and online support in forums is often provided by the very pot growers traditional gardeners seek to distance themselves from.

For small home lovers indoor gardening means tapping into aspects of mindful living.  Space being at a premium drives one to look for alternatives to the outdoor garden.  Viable hydroponic systems can be assembled in a one gallon fish tank, stacked flower pots, and plastic bottles slated for the trash.  There are many systems available in stores that take up no more room than the corner of your desk.


Hydroponics units at full price are expensive.  The good news is this: they units are so abundant now that they’re showing up in the recyclables markets.  That is, one can now find them in thrift stores, yard sales, and often online at ultra cheap prices.

When it comes down to it gardening indoors is about making a choice.  It’s more important than gossip.  And it’s worth talking to the landlord about.  It’s saying that finding a way to in-house nutrition is a priority.  Period.

“Show me your garden and I shall tell you what you are.”
  ~ Alfred Austin


Incredible Shrinking Home

21 Feb

Growth is possible only when we recognize our identities are not what we have, but what we do with it.

 2005 production of Chekhov’s “Ivanov” outdoor theater set design by Catherina Scholten’s 


I used to imagine that people moving into a small home would mourn the event the same way one experiences grief.  And once all the stages were completed that one meets the acceptance stage with a certain amount of weariness.  A sort of giving in, if you will.

And then it happened!  A company in Scotland began making live-in tree houses.   Learning this changed how I thought of homes.  Instead of feeling like I’d be without, I began dreaming of the great out-door adventures I’d have.  Oh, just the thought made me giddy!


Of course the downside to such an arrangement is that one has to be mindful about their things.  For someone coming from a much larger home (or a hoarder home), the task of minimizing is an extraordinary risk.  Heck, even those who have downsized find the idea of paring off even more a little daunting.  So, how to do it?  What does one keep, toss, gift???

Ahhh . . . this is a question, my friends, that even those at the 100 Things Challenge debate.


The challenge starts out with the absurd: Do you honestly need five desks?  Are four refrigerators, freezers, coolers a bit too much?  Frankly, how many of those winter coats stored away are you going to use this season?

The more you pare down the more the challenge grows: is a set of plates one item or twenty?  Is a pair of socks one item or two?

Eventually the challenge flips itself.  It becomes a discovery of self: finding the items worth fighting for.  Would  you choose Mamma’s locket, daddy’s pipe, or rare pictures of all us siblings at the zoo for the half-filled sticker book from fifth grade?

Ultimately, the act of moving into a smaller home, a smaller space, a dorm room even, is about finding the core items that work for you.

Never make your home in a place.  Make a home for yourself inside your own head.  You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things.  That way it will go with you wherever you journey. ~ Tad Williams


26 Jan

Sometimes there are no words as your spirit cries out for change.

We would like to give credit to the photographer.   If you know who took this photo please share!

This is a gut-wrenching, heart sinking photo from South Africa.  It hurts to look at it.  Despair!  Sitting in the comfort of our homes it’s easy enough to dismiss our ability to affect change.  But we can!  We are a strong lot.  We have options here that others in the world do not have.


Immediate relief can be given via cash donations through charitable organizations such as:

* Red Cross International – “The American Red Cross responds to international disasters by sending financial assistance, pre-positioned relief supplies from our global warehouses, trained emergency response personnel, or any combination of the three.”

*Relief International – “Relief International meets the immediate needs of victims of natural disasters and civil conflicts worldwide with the provision of food rations, clean water, non-food items, transitional shelter and emergency medical services. Beyond emergency situations, Relief International’s field teams provide long term health and nutrition services to communities in need by operating clinics and training health workers. Relief International also provides water and sanitation programming, providing communities with access to clean water, decreasing the incidence of communicable diseases, and improving quality of life.”


It’s time to look beyond cash donations, and get to the root of the problem: a place with broken systems that do not work.  Who out there is working on fixing the problem?  Who is bringing long-term hope and training to the poor in Africa?

* Send A Cow – “Our work has three core strands: strengthening people, farming and animals, and caring for the environment.  Working with people in groups, to make use of peer support, we train them in how to use their natural resources wisely to build thriving mixed crop-livestock farms. This includes training in natural – or organic – farming; and in livestock care. Where necessary, we provide good quality animals, seeds and tools to get families started.”

* Oxfam – “As well as becoming a world leader in the delivery of emergency relief, Oxfam International implements long-term development programs in vulnerable communities. We are also part of a global movement, campaigning with others, for instance, to end unfair trade rules, demand better health and education services for all, and to combat climate change.”


One small step, one small change in how things are done can make a huge difference.  Think a garden can’t thrive in Africa?  Think livestock can’t thrive?  Read on, my friends!

* Keyhole Gardens

The use of stones expand the planting season, retain warmth and nutrients, and retain moisture.  Stones also make it heavy weather resistant.  Such gardens rely heavily on table scraps and waste water along with other recyclable materials such as straw, cardboard, phone books. old cotton t-shirts, and other hot-compost items.

* Livestock Donations.

Goats, sheep, llamas, and farm animals can be donated to families through many charitable organizations.  In many cases the benefits are immediate.  Livestock, like goats, are drought resistant as well as produce nutritious milk.  Many of the farm animals donated also reproduce fast, giving more opportunities for inter-tribe gifting and famine relief.

We’d love to know what you think!  Did we miss something?  Is there an organization you’d like recognized?  Drop us a line!