Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bring the Outside In!

Plants are not only a great way to bring a splash of color into a room, but some are fantastic at cleaning the air! Many species can remove chemicals such as benzine, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene. NASA has even studied the air cleaning properties of houseplants and has created a list of the most efficient ones.  Dr. Oz recommends Snake Plants for sleep.  Though I'm sure any air purifying plant would do. I have 4 different snake plants in my bedroom in addition to a spider plant and I sleep just fine.

One of my original Pothos, well, half of it, anyway!

One of my newer plants, a fern. It's not doing so hot right now.

My kitchen spider plant. These are great at removing toxins from the air and they reproduce like crazy! I can't give them away fast enough!

Houseplants really bring a sense of life to a room. They're a great decor element that is easily moved, easy to control the size, and they're pretty inexpensive. You can get small houseplants at anywhere from $2 and up depending on the size and species. Most are also pretty hardy and don't require a lot of care.

When it comes to houseplants, the most expensive part tends to be the finding a flower pot to put it in. I recommend heading to your local thrift store, garage sale, or dollar store and getting creative. Sometimes you can find actual pots and if you don't like the color you can paint it. Still no luck?  Pick up a Terra Cotta pot, coat it with primer (don't skip this step, Terra Cotta is extremely absorbent and will suck the paint right up!), and paint to match your decor.  This is a fantastic way to add a bit of color to a room without buying new furniture or painting the walls!

Gardening in Small Spaces

It's spring! Time to start digging in the dirt!
I'm fortunate to have a small yard attached to my townhouse, which is fantastic. I have just enough room for some small raised beds.

Roma Tomatoes, Zucchini, Broccoli, and Kale
Marigolds sprinkled throughout to discourage pests.

Earlygirl Tomatoes, Zucchini, Basil, Thyme, Cilantro, Lavender


In the pot on the right is the sage I planted last year


However, many who rent don't have much outside space. Some places come with balconies or patios and others have no outside space to speak of. To you I say, don't despair! 
Have a balcony or a large windowsill?  Try container gardening.

I currently have some broccoli and mint growing in some pots:

For small spaces, I highly recommend these two books:

Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces and  All New Square Foot Gardening

It doesn't always have to be about food. Don't forget about potted flowers! Even if you don't have a patio or balcony, you can still enjoy potted flowers on your windowsill. You can grow gorgeous flowers to enhance the look of your space.
"Total Madness" Petunias my son picked out.

Of course, you can also buy some ornamental food plants and do both at the same time. Try an upside down tomato planter (cherry tomatoes work best). You can make one yourself out of a plastic hanging pot. Just cut a small hole in the bottom for the tomato plant to grow through.  I haven't done it myself, as I have no where to hang anything, but I've heard the results can be quite nice and you can put some gorgeous purple and green basil in the top of the planter which will not only enhance the flavor of your tomatoes, but will add some beautiful color to your outdoor space (and can you say "petso?"  Yum!).

Don't have any outdoor space to speak of? My next post is all about houseplants, so stay tuned!