In the Garden
Get down and dirty in the garden

What Will Indoor Gardening Look Like in the Future?

There are a lot of things that make indoor gardening attractive: Year-round production of herbs and food plants, protection from natural disasters and weather changes, and a more efficient use of space are only a few. This trend toward indoor gardening is being fueled by a number of factors including climate change and the desire for self-sufficiency.

So what will indoor gardening look like in the future? There are a number of interesting changes happening, and these innovations will guide the indoor gardens of tomorrow.


Technology and Gardening Methods

Of course, technology makes growing plants easier in the field, in the garden, and indoors. Two fascinating methods have emerged though — methods that make growing indoors even more intriguing. They are hydroponics and aquaponics. What’s the difference, and how do they work?

Hydroponics is the science of growing plants in water rather than soil. You simply add nutrients to your tank, and you’re ready to go. However, the drawback is that these nutrients must be monitored and replaced often, and “root rot” is often a concern. Still, the system is usually sterile, and other than root rot, disease is not a problem.

Aquaponics is the practice of raising fish at the same time that you grow plants in the water they live in. The idea is to develop an ecosystem that is balanced and self-sustaining. The plants take nutrients from the water and, at the same time, filter it for the fish. Both take up quite a bit of room, and the right temperature is of utmost importance. Smart temperature controls and sensors that feed data to smartphones make it possible for this to be regulated remotely, at least to an extent.

Most indoor gardens of the future will contain one of these two growing methods, and this is expected to be a $1.98 billion industry by 2022.

Getting the Power

As you can imagine, managing an indoor growing operation takes a bit of power for grow lights, temperature controls, and environmental sensors. However, what matters most is where that power comes from, and many growers are using renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

With the evolution of this sustainable approach, growers are reducing their impact on the environment in huge ways. Renewable energy also comes with other perks as well: Solar is a great source of heat for climate control in colder weather, and wind often generates enough power to share with the rest of the house too.

Looking at the indoor garden of the future, renewable energy will certainly be a part of the equation.

Sustainability and Climate Change

There is no denying that climate change impacts our health every single day, and indoor gardening can have a negative or positive impact. The smart use of water and energy is just one of the ways gardening is moving toward sustainability and having a positive impact on the environment.

This includes the fertilizers and nutrients used, especially those that are organically sourced; releasing the oxygen these plants create into the surrounding area; recycling water; collecting rain; and using other means to reduce pollutants.

The garden of the future will be one that takes climate change and sustainability into account.

Whether you are looking to grow plants indoors over winter or year-round indoor gardening, technology will impact how your garden looks and works. From using water instead of soil, using new technology, drawing on renewable energy for power, and taking other steps for sustainable gardening and to prevent climate change, the indoor garden of tomorrow will not only be a source of food, but a positive impact on the community around it as well.

Everything You Need to Know About Lasagna Gardening


It doesn’t come from an Italian background, there’s no pasta involved, and it isn’t Garfield’s favorite entree. Lasagna gardens gain their name from the layering technique used to build up a gardening site with a plant’s favorite nutrients. Moving soil isn’t easy, and for gardeners who are fed up with tilling, a lasagna garden is the solution.

For lasagna gardening, raised garden bed kits are popular due to the control they gives gardeners over the soil, watering, and spacing as well as the ease of its set-up and care. Instead of digging into packed, mysterious earth, gardeners can assemble a raised bed and fill it with soil in minutes. This method coupled with lasagna gardening could possibly be the simplest gardening method WITHOUT losing any garden quality. Maximum garden for minimum effort (our favorite combo!)

What You Need

  • Raised Garden Bed
  • Newspaper/Cardboard
  • Compost/Soil
  • Straw
  • Veggie scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds
  • Lawn Clippings

Placement and Size of Your Lasagna Garden

The most important aspect of garden placement is the availability of sun. Ensure that the garden will receive roughly 6+ hours of sun daily. The good news? Lasagna gardens aren’t inhibited by size. So you can build your garden as large as you want. Important Note: Your lasagna garden needs to be at least 16 inches deep. It’s the price we have to pay for ease, but most raised beds can be stacked to create deeper beds.

16" Tall Stacked Raised Garden Bed - Img source:

How to Build up Your Lasagna Garden

Honestly, just pile the layers until it crests over the sides of your raised garden. Having said that, there are popular build patterns that ensure your lasagna garden breaks down properly and provides maximum nutrients to the plants:

  1. Lay a thick layer of newspaper and/or cardboard down. The first layer protects against weeds and provides a solid base for the rest of your lasagna garden. Water this layer.
  2. The next layer is compost. If you haven’t made compost because it can take a while and you didn’t realize you’d be creating a lasagna garden, just use soil/compost from your local gardening center. Water this layer.
  3. Add an inch or so of straw. Do not use hay. The difference may seem negligible, but hay has a higher propensity to carry weed seeds. As the straw breaks down it will add nitrogen to the garden, which plants crave. Water this layer.
  4. If you didn’t know how to make compost, then step 4 is dually helpful. Veggie scraps, coffee grounds, and other plant based organic waste from our daily lives can be used to create compost as they break down. For the fourth layer, we want to add these elements so they may break down within the lasagna garden itself - adding yet more nutrients. Water this layer.
  5. More straw and water.
  6. More organic waste (or pre-compost components) and water.
  7. Finish off with a good layer of compost (or soil). If it isn’t 16 inches deep at this point, then repeat steps 5, 6, and 7 until you’ve reached that mark. Water.

You may have noticed we water after each step is complete. This helps weigh down the layers and press them together. Lasagna gardens are meant to settle, but instead of tilling them back up, you just add more layers!

Your lasagna garden is now ready for planting! The following are some veggies that thrive in lasagna gardens, enjoy!

  • Asparagus - Springtime
  • Beans - Springtime and needs supports
  • Cucumbers - Springtime
  • Garlic - Fall/Early Winter
  • Lettuce - Spring and Fall planting
  • Potatoes - Early to mid-springtime

How to Have Your Houseplants Water Themselves When You’re Away

I was recently asked what I do with my 20+ indoor plants when I go on annual leave. Since most of them are from the tropical type and require constant moisture, long periods without water can be an issue.  When I come back from holidays, how heart-breaking it is to see several casualties in my plant gang! Brown leaves, sometimes dead plants, the fragile specimens being impacted first. Since then, I've put together a list of tricks and tips to ensure that all plants will be alive when I come back home. Follow the guide!

Smart Plant Selection

Pick robust plants, which can survive longer without water. Plants with thin leaves are more fragile and their tolerance to long periods of drought is low. Choose cacti, succulents, pothos (Epipremnum aureum), rubber plant, Monstera deliciosa, and dumb cane, among other species, for their resilience towards dry soil or dry periods.

How to Water Your Plants

collection of houseplants
Photo courtesy

1. Gather all your indoor plants in the same room. Plants, like humans, are stronger when they are together, because they can “share” resources, which in our case is humidity. Plants release excess humidity from their leaves which then can be captured by neighboring plants. Humidity recycling!

2. To do this, place a bucket or large bowl filled with water in the center of the room.

3. Group your plants around it, the tropical type first. Place them as close as possible but the leaves should not touch.

self-watering plant solutions
Photo courtesy

4. Fill a tray or the plant’s saucer with pebbles and top with water. Then place your plants on top. Direct contact between soil and water is to be avoided because this will create root rot and drown the plant.

twine creating capillary effect watering
Photo courtesy

5. Useful trick: you can make use of garden twine to connect a water-reservoir to the plants' soil. The water will be absorbed by the soil over time by an effect called the capillary effect.

6. Water before you go, but don't water more than usual or you risk drowning the plants.

If you read my blog you are already aware that I’m a big fan of self-watering pots, and for a reason, they are SO helpful! I recommend using them for specimens which require a weekly watering and prefer moist soil, such as golden pothos, satin pothos, Calathea or Maranta.

Adding Compost to Your Yard Before Winter

Caring for your lawn before winter arrives is an essential and necessary way to support the future of your lawn growth. Lawns need to be nourished well to last through the dormant winter season. Compost is a great option that provides natural benefits as well as plenty of energy to better support the lawn through the winter. Learn more about how to add compost to your yard before winter arrives.

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What Is Compost?

Simply put, compost is decomposed organic matter. Leaves and plant scraps comprise a compost base that has broken down to become a rich soil-like consistency. Compost is frequently referred to as “Black Gold” as the dark color and nutrient levels provide an abundant energy source for other plants. Compost also includes the presence of beneficial life forms, like bacteria, that have helped break down the sources into usable energy. These little additions help aid the natural growth levels of other plants as well.

Common Compost Sources

Many gardeners choose to create their compost in the backyard. Compost piles are simple to maintain but can take a long time to build the creamy consistency to use in the yard. Compost piles are usually made up of grass clippings, dead leaves, and fruit and vegetable scraps from the kitchen. Add in a healthy dose of worms, hot temperatures, and a little bit of luck to create rich compost for the garden.

Compost can also be purchased from local garden centers in large bags. Make sure to check the label of the bags to ensure that you are buying compost that includes items that you prefer.

How Is Compost Different from Fertilizer?

While both compost and fertilizer provide energy, they both give power to different parts of the yard. Compost adds strength to the soil while fertilizer adds energy to the grassroots. It also acts a beneficial additive to certain soil types that have trouble retaining moisture, including sand-based soil. Making sure that your yard has both energy sources for the entire yard environment is essential in providing a healthy lawn come spring. Organic fertilizers are a good choice in working with compost to treat the yard as a whole.

Compost Usage

Most gardeners choose to apply one-half inch of compost to their yards to provide energy to the soil. Measure your yard to figure out how much space you have as well as how much compost you will need. Mulch calculators online will help in figuring out how many bags of compost you will need to purchase or how many scoops of compost to use from your pile.

Spread the compost before the first frost arrives in your area. Make sure to mow the lawn to a height of 1 inch to provide enough space for the compost to reach the soil. Shovel your compost on to the lawn or pour a line of bagged compost across the yard. Use a rake to spread the fertilizer into an even layer to provide the same amount of energy to the lawn overall.

Choosing to add compost to your yard before winter arrives is an eco-friendly lawn care solution that helps to build up the energy of the soil. Not only will adding compost support the soil of the lawn but it will also become a breeding ground for essential microorganisms that help support the grass as well. Adding compost to your yard before winter is a critical part in creating a strong and healthy lawn.

How to Grow Microgreens Efficiently Indoors

If you haven’t heard of microgreens…you’re in for a surprise! These plants are nutritional powerhouses and can be grown anywhere, even if you’re living in the smallest of apartments!

But first…what are microgreens? It’s actually pretty simple: Microgreens are normal plants that are harvested at the 8-21 day range, depending on the variety. They’re even smaller than baby greens, typically only grow to their first set of true leaves.

I love growing microgreens for their nutrient density. They make an excellent addition to a morning green smoothie or a quick and easy salad. Better yet, even brown-thumbed gardeners can grow them with ease!

buckwheat microgreens
Photo by Kevin Espiritu

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Microgreen seeds
  • Potting soil
  • 1020 propagation trays
  • Spray bottle

You can use normal seed packets if you want, but microgreens are seeded much denser than a normal crop. I typically buy my seeds in bulk from a few different online suppliers. When starting out, I recommend growing simple leafy greens like arugula, radish, lettuce mixes, or kale. These are all harvested in under ten days and produce a large yield of microgreens.

Fill a 1020 propagation tray with 2 cups of water. Then, add your potting soil, about 1/2-inch below the brim. Leaving this space makes it easier to harvest your crop without pulling up a lot of dirt. We add the water first to make it easier to fully soak your soil, instead of top watering and potentially creating a soggy mess.

Make sure your soil is level in the tray, then measure out about 1-2 ounces of microgreen seeds. As a rule of thumb, the larger the seed, the more you’ll need to plant by weight. For example, arugula can be seeded at 1 ounce per tray, whereas larger radish seeds require around 3 ounces per tray.

Surface sow your seeds, then give them a light misting with your spray bottle. Next, take your other 1020 propagation tray and flip it upside down on top of the first tray. This tray acts as a “blackout dome” that will simulate burying your seeds below the surface of the soil.

trays of microgreens on growing rack
Photo by Kevin Espiritu

At this point, the hard work is done. It’s time to let your seeds germinate. Most varieties take 2-4 days to germinate. Every day during the “blackout” phase, take the top tray off and check on your seeds. You’ll want to look for a few things:

  • Is there enough moisture? If not, give the tray a spray with your spray bottle
  • Is there any mold or fungus on the surface? If so, remove the blackout dome early to try and lower humidity
  • Are your seeds beginning to germinate?

After five days, your seeds will have germinated and begun reaching for the light…only there is no light! It’s time to remove the blackout dome and expose them to the sun. They’ll be yellow and a bit spindly looking, which is completely normal. They haven’t been able to photosynthesize yet. In a day or two of sun exposure they’ll green up and start growing.

At this point, it’s up to you when you want to harvest. The cotyledons, or seed leaves, are the first set of leaves that appear. After that, the first set of “true” leaves appear. This is a fantastic time to harvest, as the microgreens are still young and nutrient-dense. Any longer and you’re crossing over into the baby green territory.

When harvesting, use a sharp, sterile pair of scissors and cut about 1/2-inch above the surface of the soil. Take care not to pull up any dirt or seed hulls — this makes cleaning your microgreens a pain. Washing microgreens can be done, but it’s unnecessary if you’ve harvested in a clean fashion. Washing typically reduces the shelf life of refrigerated microgreens by about 25 percent, so avoid it if you can.

Microgreens are one of the simplest and easiest plants you can grow, and as we go into winter there’s no better edible to experiment with. You can grow them on a tiny little shelf in your bedroom, on the back patio, or in a kitchen windowsill. Experiment with a few different varieties and methods until you settle upon your favorite microgreens for salads, soups, smoothies, and more!

Must-See Gardens Across the US: The Midwest

Make sure to check out Part 1 (The Southeast) Part 2 (The Northeast) of this 5-part series at the bottom of this article.

 Instead of pulling over to see the world’s 5th most genuine alien space ship during your vacation, try something a little more worthwhile. This could be your only vacation of the year, so “fill your eyes with wonder” as the travel bloggers say and visit some unforgettable places. All over the U.S., there are publicly and privately funded, breathtaking gardens that can redefine your definition of horticulture. From pristine botanical memorials to fascinating plant sculptures, you will find your imagination running wild with your own backyard botanical ideas.

Plus, these gardens are prime for great pictures that are guaranteed to make your Instagram pop and may even inspire you to start a succulent garden, raised garden, its close relative—square foot garden, or ‘living’ sculpture garden of your own! So, if you are journeying through the northeastern U.S., carve out some time to visit one or more of these amazing garden experiences.

South Dakota

MrCrory Gardens – Brookings, South Dakota

Featuring over 70 acres of gardens, displays, an arboretum, and activities, the McCrory Gardens is a must-do if you are in South Dakota. They are operated and maintained by South Dakota State University and offer guests a chance to discover beautiful gardens, trees, and dazzling displays. Along with rose gardens, hummingbird gardens, and a maze, they also feature a raised bed sensory garden. It appeals to all five senses, making it a wonderful garden for kids and those exploring sensory integration.

Their President’s Garden is a favorite spot for weddings, meetings, and other events, overlooking their many flora offerings. Recently, they developed an app that helps guests traverse the park while further educating them on the plant-life.

South Dakota MrCrory Gardens


Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden – Des Moines, Iowa

This horticultural wonder is progressive, beautiful, and dedicated to education and inspiration. The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden features art and sculptures, rose and water gardens, and a huge conservatory. Standing at 80 feet tall and 150 feet wide, the conservatory is made of Plexiglas and aluminum that houses a tropical atmosphere.

They recently had a first, for all of Iowa at these gardens – flowering an Amorphophallus titanium. Better known as a corpse flower, it emits a rotten stench when it blooms... which surprisingly attracts people instead of turning them away... Most likely due to its rarity. In addition, the garden plays host to exhibits, concerts, fundraisers, weddings, meetings, and learning workshops.

Greater Des Moines Botanical Iowa


Matthaei Botanical Gardens – University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, Michigan

Eleven outdoor garden spaces featuring bonsai, native and medicinal plants, perennials, and more blooming seasonally from spring to first frost. Take a walk along nearly three miles of trails and natural areas. Or visit the year-round indoor conservatory filled with plants from around the world. Begin your exploration at the visitor center, where you’ll find visitor guides, restrooms, water and snacks and the Garden Store. 

Matthaei Botanical Gardens


Chicago Botanic Garden – Glencoe, Illinois

Over 40 years old and an example of a successful private-public partnership, the Chicago Botanic Garden offers a variety of horticultural experiences and learning opportunities to its visitors. They can enjoy 27 gardens and 4 natural areas including: a well-known Bonsai garden, a model railroad, greenhouses, aquatic gardens, a science center, and waterfall gardens. For visitors who are hungry for more information, they can use a free mobile app that features and interactive map and walking tours of the botanic gardens.

For visitors with an even larger appetite for education, the Chicago Botanic Garden offers adult workshops, school programs, graduate internships, and a specialized horticultural therapy program. If you’re just a tourist trying to enjoy the scenery, they have thought of you too. Flower shows are a frequent occurrence, and dining options are available as well.

Chicago Botanic Garden


Cleveland Botanical Garden – Cleveland, Ohio

The Cleveland Botanical Garden transports guests to exotic places thanks to its 10 acres of gardens and 18,000-square-foot Glasshouse. Founded in 1930, this garden is visited by 150,000 guests annually who look forward to its unique offerings. Along with Children's, Japanese, Rose and Herb gardens, guests can enjoy one of the extra opportunities to celebrate seasons such as Orchid Mania, the Annual Egg Hunt, Gourmets in the Garden, RIPE!, and more.

The Glasshouse is comprised of 3,400 pieces of glass, 738,000 pounds of steels, and 20 tons of soil—an impressive structure. Inside, it houses the Costa Rican rainforest and the spiny desert of Madagascar for guests to wonder and behold. Of course the garden also features workshops, classes, and hosts private events.

 Cleveland Botanical Garden

So, if traveling the Midwest U.S. definitely add these amazing stops to your itinerary for some added tranquility and exploration!

Also, if you're traveling to the Southeast or the Northeast, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this 5-part series!

Must-See Gardens Across the US: The Northeast

In Part 1 of our 5-part series, we covered the best gardens to see across the southeast. From the Disney Flower & Garden Festival to The Elizabethan Gardens in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Instead of pulling over to see the world’s 4th most complete Bigfoot footprint, try something a little more worthwhile. This could be your only vacation of the year, so “fill your eyes with wonder” (as the travel bloggers say) and visit some unforgettable places! All over the U.S., there are publicly and privately funded, breathtaking gardens that can redefine your definition of horticulture. From pristine botanical memorials to fascinating plant sculptures, you will find your imagination running wild with your own backyard botanical ideas.

Plus, these gardens are prime for great pictures that are guaranteed to make your Instagram pop and may even inspire you to start a succulent garden, fruit garden, square foot garden, or ‘living’ sculpture garden of your own! So, if you are journeying through the northeastern U.S., carve out time in some of our nation’s most historic states to visit one or more of these amazing garden experiences!


Coastal Maine Gardens

Founded by grassroots organization passionate about horticulture and environmental education in Boothbay, Maine, this botanical garden covers 295 acres of tidal shore land. They offer a schedule of educational events, art exhibits, and sculptures that tourists and annual members can appreciate. The gardens also partake in substantial botanical research to propagate unique cultivars in New England.

They are only open from April through October, but visitors will be wowed by the variety of beautiful gardens throughout the compound.

 GIM Best Gardens Coast Maine Gardens_1_1_1

Asticou Azalea Garden

In Northeast Harbor, Maine, the Asticou Azalea Garden feels both organized and natural. Pathways wind through colorful and aromatic gardens and forests with benches throughout for those who want to rest and enjoy the environment.

GIM Best Gardens Asticou Maine_1

New York

Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Along with the standard beautiful horticultural offerings, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden offers educational opportunities for schools, families, children, and adults. Butterfly walks, yoga classes, Medicinal lectures, certificates in horticulture, and internships are only part of the many opportunities they provide.

Their gardens are comprised of a variety of flowers that are seasonally changed, and the site blog offers frequent insights into their flora and fauna.

GIM Best Gardens Brooklyn Botanical_1

New York Botanical Garden

Similar to its cousin in Brooklyn, the New York Botanical Garden is known for offering a myriad of classes, horticultural opportunities, special collections, and educational experiences. Besides those, the gardens themselves are breathtaking.

Visitors can enjoy the Azalea, Daylilies, Native Plant, Perennial, Water Lilies and Lotus gardens as well as some fun musical weekends. They do provide membership opportunities for those who can’t get enough of this beautiful botanical garden.

GIM Best Gardens New York Botanical_1


Phipps Conservatory

Located in Pittsburgh, this conservatory is dedicated to researching sustainable landscapes, offer seasonal children camps, school tours, and how-to adult gardening classes. Additionally, they are known for being a picturesque location for weddings or corporate events.

They offer year-round and seasonal experiences including butterfly forests, interactive soundscapes, their green power drive, and a fascinating exhibit called, “Tropical Forest Cuba”. The Phipps Conservatory is dedicated to innovation and can’t be missed.

GIM Best Gardens Penn Phipps Conservatory_1

Longwood Gardens

One of the most diverse garden experiences, the Longwood gardens offer more than beautiful flora. Visitors can look forward to dining options, a beer garden, musical performances, and a spectacular illuminated fountain show set in the Main Fountain Garden.

They also offer educational opportunities for those interested in horticulture and art. For those just visiting, there are greenhouses, a breathtaking waterlily display, and a manicured Italian water garden.

 GIM Best Gardens Penn Longwood Gardens_1

Washington, DC

U.S. National Arboretum

Established in 1972 by Congress, this 446-acre property is run by the US Department of Agriculture’s Research Service. Their mission is to “enhance the economic, environmental, and aesthetic value of ornamental and landscape plants through long-term, multi-disciplinary research, conservation of genetic resources, and interpretative gardens and exhibits.”

Boasting over seven flora collections in addition to a Bonsai museum and the national capitol columns, people passionate about America will love the Arboretum.

GIM Best Gardens DC National Arboretum_2_1

So, if travelling the northeast U.S. add these amazing stops to your itinerary for some tranquility and exploration.

Which gardens do you want to see and which have you been to? Do you prefer the gardens of the southeast featured in part 1 of our series? Tell us in the comments below!
Also, keep your eyes open for part 3 of this 5-part series as we explore the rest of the must-see gardens across the U.S.!

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