In the garden with… Carmen Ferreira

With the vegetable gardens Minigarden winning over an increasing number of fans, the Minigarden team decided to pay a visit to a number of customers who have the Minigarden system installed. The Minigarden now forms part of the daily lives of so many families, it is intriguing to see up close the development of their vertical vegetable and flower gardens. On this occasion, we paid a visit to Carmen Ferreira, a mother who 7 years ago chose to put a Minigarden on her balcony. In addition to installing the modules, she opted for our drip irrigation system (giving each plant the water and nutrition it requires), along with a programmer, a fertilizer feeder and a filter/pressure reducer, thus automating the irrigation and nutrition system. Carmen explains that “In the summer, the vegetables have to be watered every day, and on the hottest days, sometimes twice a day, which justified the investment. It proved a fantastic solution, since we have little spare time”. Over the years, Carmen decided to change the kitchen decor, and the balcony was included in her plans. In these hectic times of increasingly scarce spare time, Carmen chose to create a different space, where she could enjoy a cosy lounge environment with her family and friends. “I decided to bring the city garden into our home”. Carmen explains further, “At that point, we spent little time at home. I wanted to enjoy all our free time and a vertical garden requires less time and maintenance than a vegetable garden”. Since the family already had the Minigarden system installed, the decision was easily implemented. After 6 years with the vegetable garden...

Horticulture Workshops for Children and Grown-Ups – Vertical Kitchen Garden

Last June, we saw the end of another workshop series on HORTICULTURE FOR CHILDREN AND GROWN-UPS, at the Dolce Vita Tejo (the biggest shopping centre in Europe). These workshops were facilitated by Associação Chão da Terra, with support from Minigarden. The main goal of Associação Chão da Terra is to spread environmentally friendly growing techniques and foster contact with soil and nature.   For a few days, people had the chance to discover the benefits of urban kitchen gardens and learn about growing horticultural and aromatic plants. In an urban setting, the use of raised seed beds and vertical systems with low space requirements may be the best solution to build a kitchen garden. All the participants had the opportunity to discover the Minigarden Vertical system. Everyone was able to feel the soil with their hands and thoroughly follow the suggestions to make a Minigarden Vertical kitchen garden without ever forgetting the general principles of sustainable agriculture. It was a moment of dissemination and learning for all the attendees. There was plenty of fun for grown-ups and kids. … And so the workshop series ended, with due credit to Associação Chão da Terra. Welcome to the Urban Green Revolution!     A tip from Associação Chão da Terra: HOW TO GROW A KITCHEN GARDEN – step by step 1. Place the vertical kitchen garden in an area with at least 4-5 hours of daily solar exposure; 2. Fill the vertical kitchen garden bottom with a porous material to drain or absorb the excess water; 3. Choose an adequate substrate for the kind of plants you’re growing; 4. Adjust the plant and root size...

In the kitchen garden with… Joana Lobato

This time, the Minigarden team visited the kitchen garden of Joana Lobato, a young woman with a great passion for her four-legged friends. She always wanted to have a kitchen garden at home, but the lack of time and space had always made it impossible to fulfil that wish. Joana tells us that “I tried to grow things in flowerpots, but with no success”. Joana always had an interest in health and food safety. Aside from being produced without chemicals (harmful to health and cause of many diseases), organic food is more tasty and nutritious. “I care about the environment. Pesticides are quite harmful to water, air and soil, as well as to our health, both directly and indirectly. When I stopped eating meat, vegetables became part of my routine. Actually, I could buy them in the supermarket, but they are more expensive and I can’t always be certain they don’t have chemicals or preservatives”. “At a time in which we increasingly hear about kitchen gardens, especially the organic kind, I decided to look for the best solution. That’s when I found Minigarden… I decided to place the kitchen garden in my balcony”, says Joana while picking some spearmint for her tea… “I wanted to be able to grow my own kitchen garden, ensuring the quality of the products I eat and give to my pets. They love carrots, and this way I can be certain they won’t take in any chemicals”. Joana loves to use aromatic herbs in her dishes and, in her opinion, fresh herb packets in the supermarket are a little overpriced. “I decided to be...

In the kitchen garden with… Paula Magessi

The Minigarden kitchen garden has been conquering more and more enthusiasts. This time, we focus on a family from Charneca da Caparica, Lisbon – Portugal, with an old passion for agriculture. The lack of time and space had always made it impossible to fulfil their dream. The Minigarden team had the chance to keep up with this recent urban kitchen garden, and thus was able to witness a dream coming true. Paula Magessi tells us: “This was our personal project. Every detail was carefully thought-out, including the watering.” Paula knew the secret of cultivation is in choosing a good watering system, and Minigarden was prepared to provide it. “Your drip watering system gives each plant the necessary water and nutrition, avoiding the waste of such an important resource as water. We also chose to add a computer for the water tap, a fertilizer dispenser device and a pressure reducing filter, making it an automatic irrigation and nutrition system. This was a great solution, considering our daily free time was limited.”… “The kitchen garden grows and feeds by itself,” Paula tells us with great enthusiasm. She also adds: “In less than half a square meter we were able to have more than 106 plants that absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen.”… “My grandchildren love it.” With this experience, the family from Charneca da Caparica learned the increasing importance of easily growing, harvesting and eating, while knowing exactly what’s in each plant, aromatic herb or fruit we eat. “It was amazing to see that in less than a month the lettuce heads and cucumbers were ready to be harvested. Knowing what we are...

Plant Profile: Rosemary

There are many legends about rosemary’s wonderful powers. Some say it can protect you from evil, others describe its magical love charms, and some even claim it can improve your memory. The truth of these claims is debatable, but there are three things we do know about rosemary: it can keep insects out of your garden, it’s strong, woody flavor complements a variety of dishes, and it grows perfectly in a Minigarden. Description Rosmarinus officinalis Difficulty: Easy Rosemary is an evergreen herb, which means it can survive throughout the winter without losing its leaves. It has needle-like leaves and white, purple, pink or blue flowers. If grown outdoors, rosemary can reach heights of 90-120 cm. Rosemary reaches a smaller size if planted indoors or in containers, which makes it the perfect plant for our tabletop planters. Rosemary is drought-tolerant, though it prefers high humidity and dry soil. Conditions Temperature: Rosemary is a hardy plant. It can thrive in temperatures between 50 and 80F (10-27C), though its ideal temperature is 60-70F (15-21C). If you’re overwintering your rosemary, make sure you protect its root area with leaf mould. In the case of severe weather, cover its roots with fleece. Soil: Soil should be dry and airy. Light and fast-draining soil with a pH of 6.0-7.5 is the best choice for this herb. Sun: Rosemary loves bright sunlight, and ideally should receive 6-8 hours of light per day. Try growing your rosemary near a window, or under fluorescent or halide lights. Propagation Rosemary can be propagated by germinating new seeds or by planting cuttings taken from older plants. Germinating from Seed: Usually, 2-3 seeds are...

Plant Profile: Thyme

In Ancient Greece and medieval Europe, thyme was used as a source of courage. Today, you can easily grow it at home in your Minigarden! Description  Thymus Vulgaris Difficulty: Easy Thyme grows from a thin, woody stem. It reaches a height of about 15-30 cm, making it the perfect plant for both container and vertical gardening. Its pale green, slightly curved leaves are fragrant and aromatic, and it blooms with tiny white flowers in the summer. As a houseplant, thyme can be grown all year long. If you’re growing thyme indoors, repot your plant every 1-2 seasons. Conditions Temperature: Thyme is a hardy plant. It grows best in hot and sunny areas, but it thrives in temperatures ranging from 16-27 degrees Celsius (that’s 61-80 degrees Fahrenheit) and higher. Soil: Thyme is one of the easiest plants to cultivate indoors, but it requires attention to its soil conditions. Thyme is intolerant to soggy soil and needs adequate drainage. Choose an airy and light, well-draining potting soil with a pH level about 5.5-7.0. Sun: Thyme loves bright light and sun, so make sure your plant receives enough sunshine during the daytime. If natural sunlight is not an option for you, try using a fluorescent light. Propagation There are three ways to propagate thyme: germinating from seed, dividing your plant at the root, and cutting. Germinating from Seed: If you don’t want to purchase a seedling or aren’t already growing a thyme plant, plant new seeds and cover them with a thin layer of compost. Place your planted seeds in a warm spot, and wait for the seedlings to emerge. It takes anywhere from...