Grofresh Kitchen Garden: Review and Giveaway

Grofresh kitchen garden is a brilliant way to grow herbs, plants and flowers indoors, with no mess and no fuss! It uses a clever patented celpod method of growing. This allows you to grow most plants quickly and easily, and is eco-friendly too. It is perfect for people who don’t have a garden, or who just want to grow extra food in their kitchen. It is fully automated and keeps the environment under optimal conditions, so you don’t need to be green fingered to gain a successful crop; in fact, it literally couldn’t be easier to grow your own food!

We were kindly sent a Grofresh kitchen garden to review…

Setting up

The Grofresh kitchen garden is extremely easy to set up as it comes pre-assembled except for the biolite, which easily slots into the base. You then simply add the nutrient solution, prepare the hydrocels, plant the seeds or plugs in the biocel, then turn it on.

Grofresh microgrower kitchen garden

Step by step;

Mix the nutrient solution provided with 1.3L of clean water and pour it into the base by removing the water filler cap, then replace the cap. Do not overfill. Make sure the growtop is on the growtank before filling. The essential nutrients are mixed with the water and delivered directly to the plants root system several times a day.

Prepare the hydrocels by soaking them in water until they are soft then squeeze out excess water. Slot them back into the celpod, securing them with the feet.

To plant the seeds just slice through the top of the hydrocel and put the seeds in about 1cm from the top, then place it in the biocel. Plugs are similar; just slice right through the middle of the hydrocel instead. See the instruction manual for more details on planting.

Functions

The microgrower has three watering settings (low, medium and high) and you can change between them using just one button. It uses flashing lights to indicate which setting has been selected. Check the seed packet to determine the correct level needed. I would also recommend planting either the same plants, or ones with similar watering requirements.

A single red light will flash every 30 seconds to indicate the water is low and requires refilling. The rest of the time it flashes green every 30 seconds to indicate it is working correctly. So this is a pretty fool- proof system!

The bioight will automatically switch on for 16 hours then off for 8 hours. The timing can be adjusted by using pressing a button on the base. If you turn it off, it will remain off for 8 hours then automatically turn on for 16 hours, back off for 8 hours and so on. If you turn it on, it will stay on for 16 hours, then off for 8 hours. You get the idea! It is all automatic, so no need to do anything.

Grofresh kitchen garden

Other Information

Grofresh kitchen garden comes in a range of colours, so you can match your kitchen decor.

You can grow most things that grow above ground (not below ground).

The hydrocels only last for one growing cycle but you can purchase more from the website. Replacement hydrocels cost £9.95.

Grofresh kitchen garden RRP: £59.95.

Purchase at wizal.co.uk

Grofresh advert

Our Verdict

The Grofresh kitchen garden is so very straightforward to set up and use, it takes up hardly any space in the kitchen, and after just a few days shoots are already appearing – so it is clearly a very effective system! We love it!

Shoots growing in Grofresh kitchen garden after just a few days.

Discount

Enter code WZLKG3 at checkout to receive £10.00 off all Grofresh kitchen garden orders! Valid until end of June 2018 only.

Grofresh kitchen gardens discount code

Giveaway Time!!!!

To be in with a chance to win your own Grofresh kitchen garden, enter my giveaway via rafflecopter below! Ends 22nd July 2018. UK residents only. T&Cs apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

*Disclosure: I was sent the Grofresh kitchen garden for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Top 10 Nutritional Foods to Eat During Pregnancy: Guest Post by Veronica – My Parenting Journey

Pregnancy is a time of strange cravings and increased appetite. While a pan of brownies sounds amazing, a pregnant woman needs vital nutrients to grow her unborn baby. It is ok to reach for snacks sometimes, but you have to make sure you are eating healthy, nutritional foods during pregnancy.

Poor diet leads to problems during pregnancy. Lack of nutrients can cause premature birth because a well-balanced diet gives your body the nutrients required for fetal development. If you want a healthy, smooth pregnancy, include these top ten nutritional foods to eat during pregnancy.

Top 10 Nutritional Foods to Eat During Pregnancy title with image of egg and avacado with grains

Eggs

Everyone knows that eggs are great for your body. Eggs are a low calorie, high protein food that contains omega-3 fatty acids. DHA is very important during pregnancy because it aids the brain development and formation of eyes in the unborn baby.

Salmon

Another source of omega-3 fatty acids is salmon. Omega-3 is vital for your baby’s development, and one of the best sources is salmon. Unlike other fishes, salmon contains low levels of mercury. Doctors encourage pregnant women to eat 8 to 12 ounces of salmon each week!

Beans

Pregnant women need a lot of protein during pregnancy, and beans are a fantastic way to get extra protein into your diet. Beans are also a source of iron, folic acid, potassium and magnesium. Another reason to eat beans is because they are a source of fiber, which relieves constipation and prevents hemorrhoids.

Avocados

Avocados are full of amazing vitamins for you and your growing baby. Most importantly, avocados offer a large amount of folic acid which ensures proper neural tube development. Avocados also have vitamin C, which is essential for a healthy immune system. Plus, pregnant women need healthy fats, so add some avocados to your salads and sandwiches.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes, just like carrots, get their orange color from carotenoids. This plant pigment converts to vitamin A when it enters our bodies. Sweet potatoes are also a source of vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber.

If you’re apprehensive about trying sweet potatoes, make baked sweet potato fries sprinkled with cinnamon. Kids generally love them, and they make a great side dish for dinner.

Greek Yogurt

Protein is the all-star during pregnancy, and Greek yogurt offers twice the amount of protein when compared to regular yogurt. Along with protein, Greek yogurt is a source of calcium and probiotics. To grow a healthy baby, a pregnant woman needs calcium to keep bones strong, for the baby and mom!

Dark, Leafy Greens

You have to make sure you include dark, leafy greens in your diet. Options include spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard greens and other dark greens. These foods are loaded down with vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, and K. Plus, leafy greens are a source for folic acid.

Leafy greens are easy to include in your diet. Add spinach to your salads. Put them into your soups, omelets or stir fry recipes. The options are endless.

Another reason you want to consume leafy greens is that they are a source of iron. For all mothers, anemia is a concern for pregnancy and right after birth. At the same time, your baby’s red blood cells must form and require iron to do so. It is a great reason to toss more spinach into your diet.

Carrots

Carrots are a source of vitamin A, which is an important part of your pregnancy diet. Vitamin A is responsible for the proper formation of skin, eyes, teeth, and bones. Carrots also supply vitamin C and vitamin in your diet. Also, the high fiber content in carrots will keep your bowels moving regularly. When you are pregnant, that is essential to prevent constipation, which can cause hemorrhoids.

A bunch of freshly picked carrots

Whole Grains

Another nutritional food for your pregnancy is whole grains, which are high in fiber and nutrients. Whole grains contain vitamin E, which is an antioxidant, and mineral selenium, as well as phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are plant compounds that protect your cells. There are a variety of whole grains to pick from, such as oats, spelt and barley.

Oats are one of the easiest to include in your diet. They are full of minerals that increase your heart’s health.

Nuts

All nuts are extremely healthy and belong in your pregnancy diet. Nuts are the perfect snack, and we know pregnant women love (and need) to snack often. You can put a variety of nuts in a bag for the perfect on-the-go snack. Nuts contain dozens of minerals, such as magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. Together, these nutrients help your baby grow!

Believe it or not, walnuts, almonds, and pistachios contain omega-3 fatty acids. We know that these are crucial for the baby’s brain development. So, feel free to include these in your diet often!

Eat Well During Pregnancy

Don’t worry – you don’t have to include all of these in your diet each day. Spread them out throughout the week! Have eggs for breakfast a few days with a cup of Greek yogurt. Make a salad with carrots and spinach. Toss a bag of nuts into your purse before work. Eating well during pregnancy benefits you and your new baby.

Veronica at My Parenting Journey

About the Author

Hi! My name is Veronica Mitchell. I am a mother to two adorable little girls and a handsome little boy. I spend my days caring from my children, packing lunches, reading aloud, kissing boo-boos, and working as the Editor of myparentingjourney.com.

Exotic Foods From Faraway Places: Favourite Dishes From Around The World

I have social media connections from all over the world. As I scroll down my instagram feed or browse through facebook photos, I see yummy meals from pretty much every country you can think of! It got me thinking about some of my personal favourite exotic dishes from around the world…

Exotic Foods From Faraway Places: Favourite Dishes From Around The World text with a row of plates of food along the bottom of image

Favourites from France

I remember going on a school trip to France in my teenage years. We were encouraged to try classic French cuisine, such as escargot; which I admit, I definitely was not a fan of! However, I adored the patisserie; authentic French pastries are delicious!

I also love French crepes, which is something that fellow blogger Falcondale Life most certainly agrees with. She had a crepe making lesson in the home of a Breton farmer a couple of years ago. She preferred the sweet crepes, but says they were fiendishly difficult to make in the traditional style!

French crepes

Barbados Delights

We visited Barbados back in our early 20s. I don’t remember a huge amount of that holiday anymore, but I do remember going for a tasty beach banquet one night. The coconut rice was particularly good! What I can remember is their dishes generally didn’t look amazing but flavours were incredible.

A Taste of Thailand

I have never visited Thailand but Thai food is one of my favourites! I am especially food of vegetable noodle dishes. If I ever go to Thailand, it would be interesting to see how the real thing compares to the English versions I have sampled! You can travel to Thailand with Destination2 and they also have more yummy recommendations on their site too! Pad thai, anyone?

A well presented selection of Thai food on a table

Other Recommendations

I asked a couple of other bloggers what exotic dishes they recommend, especially vegetarian ones if possible…

Reduced Grub said they absolutely love Turkish Kisir, because it’s super healthy, full of colour and kind on your pocket.

Adventure Travel Family said they loved lentil dhal in Sri Lanka: “As vegans it’s a great high protein source and you can have it spicy for us adults and mild for the kids. It’s also super cheap, perfect for budget travel!”

Delicious noodle dish in a wooden bowl with chopsticks

All this talk of food has made my belly rumble! I wonder if our local Thai is still open right now…

What is your favourite exotic dish? Where in the world is the best food you have ever eaten? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Body Positivity: How To Love Yourself A Little More

In today’s world, it is too easy to become body conscious and overly focused on weight, or other aspects of our bodies. Yet maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including keeping our bodies healthy, is important to wellbeing. And a desire to improve and be the best version of ourselves is ok too; in fact I would say it is a good thing! So how can we strike that balance of striving to make changes, which may or may not include weight loss, yet remain body positive at the same time? And how do we empower those around us, such as our children, to love their body too? Here are some tips to becoming more body positive…

Title Body Positivity: How To Love Yourself A Little More with image of 3 people jumping for joy on a beach

Attitude Makes All The Difference

First of all, as with anything, your outlook on the subject makes all the difference. So you need to shift your focus! For every negative thought, you need to think of at least five positive things about your body. It is about reframing how you think, and therefore feel, about yourself. Look in the mirror and really pay attention to all the good things about your body. If those critical thoughts creep in, accept them and move on. Switch back to what aspects of your appearance you do like. If you can’t find anything, you aren’t looking hard enough!

To empower yourself and those around you, especially if you have children around listening to you, stop telling yourself, or anyone else, that you need to lose weight, are too fat, don’t look good in those clothes, hate this part of your body, or that part… the list goes on… you get the idea. It is ok to want to improve ourselves but the attitude and approach we have to that makes a difference. The messages we tell ourselves, and each other, on a daily basis matters!

A photo of two women supporting each other while working out together. Women empowering each other.

Embrace Your Flaws

The way we think about our flaws and are least favourite parts is important too. Remember nobody is perfect. As they say, even those stunning supermodels don’t actually look like that in real life! We all have wobbly bits and that is ok, we don’t need to strive for perfection. Try to adopt realistic thoughts about your own body and accept your imperfections, embrace it for what it is.

Body Confidence: Be Comfortable

Wear clothes that help you to feel comfortable. Whether you prefer to dress up, be casual, stand out, or blend in; just be yourself and wear what feels good for you. Body confidence is not about dressing a certain way; it is about dressing the way you choose.

For those who menstruate, remember to love your body during your periods too! Again, wear whatever feels comfortable for you personally, such as Knixteen products for example. Also make sure periods are not a taboo subject in your household! Too many previous generations were given the impression that it is something to be embarrassed of; teach your children that it is a normal part of life and entirely natural. Body positivity needs to apply to all stages of our menstrual cycles!

Silhouette of two women doing yoga outdoors

What About Self- Improvement Then?

It is not contradictory to want to lose weight, or improve our appearance in some way. We can be positive and accepting of our bodies exactly the way they are, yet still want to improve ourselves too. It just comes down to how we think about it. Approaching it from a place of loving your body and therefore wanting to be healthy and feel even better is very different to wanting to lose weight, for example, because we hate our body and feel ‘fat’. Again, attitude makes all the difference!

What do YOU love about YOUR body? What are your top tips for becoming more body confident? Share some love in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

4 Ways to Eat Healthy While Traveling: Guest Post by Noor Najam – Pateeri

Traveling for most of the people is fun and relaxation which is why they tend to keep no boundaries. They would eat whatever comes their way and even skip meals in all the hassle. The thing we do not realize is that the unhealthy eating habits that we develop during the trip go a long way with us. Not only that, unhealthy and unrestricted eating also leaves us falling sick or too weak by the end of the trip. And then we wonder why it happened. If you truly want to stay active and healthy throughout your travel, eat healthy and make healthy choices only. The question probably is how?! Fret not! Here is your answer…

4 Ways to Eat Healthy While Traveling title on faded background image of a table full of a healthy breakfast buffet

Satiate Cravings with Healthy Snacks
When you are in motion constantly with tons of luggage to carry, it is normal to have unnecessary cravings throughout the day. Before you quickly reach out for a chocolate bar, a pack of chips or a sugary drink, stop and think! Do you have a healthier alternative that you can go for? Yes, you always do and yet you ignore it thinking that you are on a vacation and you can eat as you please. Remember that you have to pay a higher cost for it now and later both.
There are tons of healthy snacks out there which are not only healthy but delicious as well. Popcorns, sweet corns, dry fruits and fruits like oranges, bananas and apples are a few great examples. Similarly, you can drink a glass of fresh juice instead of getting a sugary soda.

Do Not Skip Breakfast
You may skip a meal or two but never skip breakfast. It does not only help in kick-starting your day but that is when you need the most energy to stay filled and active throughout the day. If you want to prevent unnecessary cravings and weakness, eat a very healthy breakfast full of protein and fiber. Take oats, eggs, yogurt and brown bread. Also, you must take an apple every morning as it is rich in fiber and iron and it will keep you satiated throughout the day.

More Sweat, More Water
All the hassle we face while travelling leaves us feeling dehydrated. The interesting part is that we do not even realize what is wrong when we feel low and out of energy. It is dehydration that gets most of us sick by the middle or end of our trip. If you want to stay hydrated and remember drinking enough water, just keep a water bottle with you wherever you go. Also, add a few slices of lemon, mint or chia seeds to add more flavor and healthy features to your plain water.

Empty Hotel Fridge for Controlling Temptation
We all know how hotel rooms have fridge full of chocolate bars and sodas that are too tempting to keep your hands off. If you truly want to avoid them and stay on track with your healthy diet, ask the management to empty it. You can then use it for stocking your own healthy snacks and items that you really need to stick to.

About the author

A photo of guest blogger Noor Najam standing outdoorsNoor Najam is a 22-year old student who loves to explore food delights and ever-growing new tastes of different regions. She likes to stay fit and make healthier food choices. She thinks she should have studied a culinary related bachelor’s degree instead of her current bachelors in Social Sciences. She regularly posts on pateeri.com

7 Simple Ways to Make Your Meals Healthier: Guest Post by Petra – Be Healthy Now

Spring is just around the corner and while everybody is thinking about spring cleaning, I’ve been thinking about what I can do to ‘spring clean’ my diet. I’ve already started reducing a number of sweet treats I have weekly and this has already helped me drop a few pounds.

If you are looking to ‘spring clean’ your diet, reducing your sugar intake is just one thing you can do. There is much more of course and here I share with you seven simple ways you can make your meals healthier to have a healthier start of the spring…

7 Simple Ways to Make Your Meals Healthier title on background image of table with healthy food in wooden bowls

Eat More Raw Fruit and Vegetables

By eating more raw fruits and vegetables you’ll be filling your diet with anti-ageing antioxidants, various minerals and enzymes that your body will love, boosting digestion and fighting chronic disease. Try and add fruit or vegetables to every meal you have. I add blueberries to my porridge or muesli every day and I always have a fresh salad with my meals.

An image of a selection of healthy nutrious food

Cut Back on Junk Food

Eating fast food on a regular basis can lead to obesity due to the number of calories and amount of fat in fast-food meals. Not to mention the additional problems that this type of food can cause like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Replacing junk food with healthier options may not be easy to start with but it is possible, all you need is some determination and willpower. I would recommend you start by exploring healthier alternatives to the junk food you currently eat.

For example, could you replace French fries with roast potatoes? Or could you find a healthier ready-made meal in a supermarket? Most of the supermarkets these days have quite a good selection of (almost) healthy ready meals which I believe some people may want to turn to when they are busy.

The more healthy food you eat, the less appetite you will have for junk food.

An image of take out pizzas and cans of coke

Cut Out the Dairy

Did you know that countries where people drink a lot of milk also have the highest rates of osteoporosis? Milk is not as good for you as you may have thought and it’s definitely not the best source of calcium.

And did you know that milk is full of hormones, puss and antibiotics? If you drink it, it’s time to cut back and go for healthier options such as almond milk, rice or oat milk.

If you are worried about your calcium intake you can easily add some calcium-rich kale to your salads. You can also find calcium in other foods such as sardines, pulses, dried figs, almonds, sesame seeds (tahini) and even baobab powder.

Reduce Meat Consumption

There is a number of reasons why you may want to reduce consumption of meat but the main one is definitely your health – that’s because eating less meat is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer (although it will also help you save money!).

Try and replace minced beef with lentils for example, or instead of having a beef burger, swap it out for a bean burger – this will provide you with way more nourishment, fibre and vitamins.

Use Whole Grains

Whole grains are grains in their unprocessed form. That means that they still contain all of the parts of the original kernel including the outer layer (the bran).

Eating more whole grains helps you consume more fibre and improve your digestion but it also helps to lower cholesterol. In addition to that, whole grains make you feel fuller than refined grains and this could help you keep your portions under control and maintain a healthy weight.

Switching from refined grains to whole grains is really easy – just ditch white rice and white pasta and replace them with brown rice and whole wheat pasta. Try other whole grains as well such as quinoa and buckwheat.

An image of a spoonful of grains

Use a Steamer Instead of Frying, Boiling or Roasting

Steamers are great to soften up your vegetables while still keeping the crunchy texture and preserving their valuable nutrients. Steaming your food is one of the healthiest ways of cooking and doing that will make your meals super healthy.

Use Healthier Cooking Oils

Do you still use sunflower oil as your main oil for cooking? If the answer is yes, it’s time to consider something else! Rapeseed oil, for example, contains half less saturated fat than sunflower oil and this is the oil I personally use for shallow frying and roasting.

When buying rapeseed oil make sure you go for the one which is cold-pressed as opposed to the refined rapeseed oil which is not much better than sunflower oil.

Another oil which you may want to consider for cooking is avocado oil. This has a high smoke point and you can also use it in salad dressings.

An image of oil being poured into a bowl

Author Bio:
Petra Kravos is a healthy lifestyle blogger who runs one of the top UK’s health blogs, Be Healthy Now. Petra is very passionate about health and loves helping people on their healthy living journey. On her health blog you will find a variety of topics, from natural health and healthy eating to fitness, Petra covers it all. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

3 Benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet: Guest Post by Micaela – Life in Lilac

My story starts at the end of last year when I basically decided I had had enough of being tired all the time, being overweight and generally unhappy with myself. After some research I came across a weight loss program called Bright Line Eating which has a strict program of cutting out all unhealthy foods including all sugar and all flour.

As part of my journey and research into nutrition I discovered that my long term vegetarian diet which included dairy, eggs and processed foods was not the best option for someone looking for long term health. Nutrition has always been something I have been interested in but this year I my research spurred me onto study for a Diploma in Nutrition and Weight Loss.

So, on January 1st this year I switched to a Whole Foods Plant Based diet which focuses on unprocessed, animal product free, natural foods. Since starting Bright Line Eating in October I have lost 13kg (28 lbs) in weight and feel more vibrant and happy than ever.

Today I want to share with you 3 benefits of switching to a Whole Foods Plant Based diet in the hopes that you will be inspired to try it for yourself, or at least incorporate more whole plant foods into your diet…

3 Benefits of a Whole Food Plant Based Diet
title on faded image of salad in a bowl

Reduced Blood Sugar Levels

Right now in the UK there are roughly 3.5 million people suffering from Diabetes, a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high and in turn can damage other organs and processes in the body.

Eating modern sugary snacks, cereals and puddings can put your body under a lot of stress as it is constantly trying to keep your blood sugar at a steady level by releasing insulin. This onslaught of processed foods and snacks which are ridiculously high in sugar ultimately ends up messing with our health. Eventually your body becomes used to having high levels of insulin all the time and you become resistant to it which ultimately leads to diabetes.

Focussing on more whole (unprocessed) plant foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains doesn’t only lower your consumption of sugar to begin with, it has been shown to slow down the absorption of sugars due to their high fibre content. It’s worth remembering that processed fruits and vegetables act on the body faster than whole foods because the fibre has been broken down, so try and avoid blending or juicing to maintain steady blood sugar.
If like me, you have diabetes in your family it’s worth considering putting down the sugary snacks and reaching for some fresh veggies instead.

Weight Loss

If you have a few pounds to shift then shifting to a diet which excludes all animal products and processed foods will give you a huge boost towards your goal. Fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains are low calorie and high in the nutrients you need so they have a great energy to benefit ratio when compared to processed food.

Processed foods are full of sugar and fat which ultimately makes them high in calories and let’s face it, low in real nutrients that your body needs. Foods made in a factory are never going to be as wholesome and beneficial as the food provided by mother nature.

Try switching out your high sugar cereal in the morning for some porridge or oatmeal made with plant milk (not from a packet!) topped with peanut or almond butter and instead of grabbing a high calorie sandwich for lunch prepare a hearty salad at home with a mix of vegetables such as carrots, cucumber, lettuce, peppers, avocado and tomato alongside a whole grain such as quinoa, buckwheat or brown rice.

Removing unhealthy foods packed with calories you don’t need and replacing them with delicious nutrient packed whole plant foods will ensure a lower consumption of calories which you don’t need and therefore will help boost your weight loss.

Vitamin Boost

I already mentioned that processed foods have high levels of calories and low levels of nutrients but did you know that people eating a standard modern diet will probably be deficient in vitamins because of this?

Vitamins, which are found mostly in plant foods, are essential for health. They are naturally occurring chemicals that sustain normal repair, growth and development as well as acting as a regulator to help release energy from foods. Some vitamins (A, C & E) have antioxidant properties which protect against diseases and damage.

We can store some vitamins in the body in our fat, such as vitamins A, D, E & K, but the vitamins which are water soluble, vitamins B & C we can not store and therefore we need to consume them in order to stay healthy. The absence of vitamins can cause some functions of the body to fail and ultimately can be fatal. There is no evidence that supplements actually benefit the body.

The good news is that eating more whole plant based foods will give you a huge boost of vitamins to keep you healthy and feeling vibrant. Food such as green beans, cabbage, leeks, okra, peppers, summer squash and sweet potato contain vitamins A, B and C along with beneficial minerals such as iron, potassium and magnesium.

At the end of the day you don’t have to radically change your diet to see the benefits of eating more whole plant based foods. Start small by switching out some of the most processed foods in your regular diet for healthier options and continue to slowly swap high calorie, low nutrition foods from your life. At least I hope I have given you some food for thought.

A bowl of healthy salad on a table

Author Bio

Micaela is a lady based in Kent, she is a digital marketer by day and lifestyle blogger by night. Micaela is passionate about learning and sharing knowledge about nutrition and helping people improve their health.

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Simple

If you’re one of the growing numbers of people who are becoming more and more concerned about the use of pesticides in the food chain, and you’re thinking of feeding your own family by growing your own healthy organic vegetables, here are some tips that will make the whole process much simpler for you…

 Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Simple title on faded background image

Get Yourself in a Greenhouse

If you get yourself one of the greenhouses from https://www.swgreenhouses.co.uk/greenhouses-for-sale.html, you will be able to grow a wider range of vegetables for a long period of time. You may even be able to grow some of your favourite fruits and veggies out of season.

Prepare the Soil Carefully

If you want your vegetables to grow and thrive, then you need to ensure that your soil is rich in organic nutrients. That means, before you even think about planting anything, you should ensure that you have worked plenty of organically created compost into the soil. If you do nothing else, then do this because it will ensure not only a bumper crop but a tastier one too.

Delicious looking cabbages growing in the soil

Choose Foods That Will Thrive Where You Live

It’s an obvious one, but there is little point in choosing to plant vegetables that are unlikely to thrive in the kind of weather conditions you’re dealing with. If you’re unsure which veggies are likely to thrive in your garden space, ask an expert at your local garden centre, read a book like the one at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Allotment-Almanac or talk to local gardeners in your area. They will typically know what’s best for you, and most will be only too happy to share their knowledge.

A bumper crop of fruit

Heirloom Veggies are Best

There are lots of things that get better with age – like fine wines and vegetables. No, I’m not talking mouldy old vegetables; but seeds! Heirloom seeds are seeds collected from older varieties of produce, and they are almost always cheaper and more flavoursome, not to mention nutritious, than modern versions. They can sometimes be difficult to find, but it’s worth the effort trying to source them.

Flowers are a Veggie Garden’s Best Friends

You might be wondering why you would want to take up precious organic veggie growing space with flowers, apart from the fact they’re pretty that is, but the fact is that flowers will attract bees and bees will pollinate your veggies, so that you don’t have to do quite so much of the work yourself manually. Plant them around the borders, and you will soon see lots of little pollinators coming to pay a visit.

Worms are Fantastic

When it comes to organic gardening, you should absolutely be creating your own compost, and you know what makes really good compost and garden mulch? Worms. Invest in a wormery, and you’ll never want for high-quality compost again. Seriously, they make way better compost than you’d get just by collecting your scraps in a bin.

Check Seeds are certified Organic

Not all seeds are organic, so when it comes to buying the stock you plan to grow in your garden and greenhouse, you should always seek to verify that your seeds are indeed organic. If you don’t do this, then your veggies simply won’t be organic, despite your best efforts, so it is important to do the checks.

A raised planting bed

Raised Beds Extend the Season

If you plant your veggies in raised beds, using the richest soil you can find, you can probably extend the season of your produces, sometimes quite dramatically. It’s also much easier to weed veggies in boxes because they aren’t as close to the ground. Of course, you need to make sure that any beds you use are made from natural untreated wood, or there could be some chemical leakage into the soil.

Alternatively, you might want to think about growing things vertically using cages or trellis, which means you have more space to increase your yields and better circulation that can help to prevent blight and other diseases.

Plant Companions

Nature is smart, and it creates plants that thrive well together. By identifying these companions and planting them close together, you can cut down on the amount of insects who attempt to lunch on your veggies, grow more volume and cut down on the risk of disease, to name but a few benefits. So do your homework, work out which veggies are best friends and plant them accordingly.

Time to get your wellies on and get gardening! What are you growing this year?

*This is a collaborative post.

The 3 Must-Haves for Any Vegetable Garden

Growing your own veg is such a privilege and if you have the garden space, you should definitely make use of it. However, you do need to be careful about how you prioritize your space to get the most out of the land and bring in a good haul come the harvest.

There are some great advantages you can gain from adding green tools like rainwater harvesting to your garden, but if you are just looking for the basics, here are the things you will need.

The 3 Must-Haves for Any Vegetable Garden title with a picture of delicious fresh vegetables in a basket.

A Greenhouse

Having a greenhouse is ideal for any gardener but it is a must for a serious fruit and vegetable grower. Choose one of a good size that will hold lots of tender plants such as courgettes and tomatoes as well as seedlings that need to be kept warm until they are ready to be planted out. Have a look at https://www.greenhousestores.co.uk/ for some ideas of what you could get.

With your greenhouse set up, you will be able to multiply your output easily as critters are kept away from your more tempting plants and youngsters are kept away from the frost. Your greenhouse will also come in handy over the winter when less hardy plants need a little bit more warmth.

A Compost Heap (or Two)

To grow great crops you need great soil. To have great soil, you need compost. Compost is simply a large pile of rotting materials including things like old leaves from the garden, kitchen food waste and green matter such as grass clippings. While you can certainly buy decent compost and fertiliser at your local garden centre, it seems wasteful to get rid of all the natural goodness coming from your own garden.

Making a good compost heap is very simple. All you need to do is set aside a space like a compost bin and then add in all the organic materials. Turn the heap over using a garden fork every so often to ix the ingredients as they degrade. This will also increase the amount of oxygen in the heap, fuelling the whole process.

Worms will do most of the work for you with your compost heap so make sure that if you find any around the garden, you introduce them and let them settle in. If you want to, you can also buy worms over the internet and add them to your heap.

A Plan

You might not think it, but planning a year ahead is vital for making the most of your vegetable garden and increasing your crops. From making sure that your rotate crops to give the soil a chance to recover to planting seeds at the right time so that they are ready for planting out, having a vegetable garden planner is vital.

With a bit of planning, a sensible use of space and a healthy compost heap, you and your vegetables will be as happy as Larry under the summer sun. Though you can never guarantee the best crop, with a little bit of help, you can get a little closer to perfection.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Children Are Our Future: Setting Them Up For Success

As parents, our number one goal in life is to raise happy and healthy children with a bright future. We want to know that we’re doing everything we can to do what’s best for them, and once you have a child this little person is suddenly the most important thing in your life, you value it above your own. But knowing what we need to do to make sure we’re setting our children up for success can be a struggle, after all, no one knows what the future holds. However with that being said, there are a few things we can do that will always benefit our kids in later years, regardless of the direction they go in. Here are some ideas…

Children Are Our Future: Setting Them Up For Success title with black and white image of child sat on adult's knee in a living room reading a book.

Teach Them The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle

We’re in the midst of an obesity epidemic. The leading cause of death in the third world is heart disease, which for the most part is preventable with a healthy lifestyle. Therefore teaching our children about the importance of health and setting a good example for healthy habits is crucial. Keep processed food, sweets and junk out of the house as much as possible, and try to avoid using them as treats or rewards, as this teaches children a bad mindset towards these things.

Cook healthy and delicious meals at home- include plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, protein and other fresh raw nutricious ingredients. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for family friendly meals, and if you’re pushed for time you could try batch cooking at weekends. That way you have access to lots of frozen, healthy meals you cooked yourself and are far less likely to buy something convenient yet unhealthy and expensive. Also, numerous studies have shown that families that eat together raise happier and more balanced children, who tend to be slimmer and healthier. So if you currently feed the children and adults in your house separately it’s worth making a change.

Exercise is also very important, kids are naturally energetic so it shouldn’t be difficult for them to get in the hour of moderate to vigorous activity they need a day. The trick is to make it fun, avoid it feeling like a chore. You could go on family hikes or bike rides together at the weekend. Or take them swimming, trampolining or to a class they enjoy, such as dance or martial arts. Even hire a bouncy castle or buy a large trampoline for your back garden and they’re sure to have hours of fun activity with very little input needed from you. Getting into these healthy habits and seeing exercise as something that’s fun and enjoyable is something that will most definitely set them up for future success.

Think About Finances

Starting out as a young adult can be difficult. It’s more of a struggle to get onto the property market now than it ever was- and it’s set to get worse. By planning for your child’s future, you can give them an advantage once they’re older. Some money towards a mortgage deposit could help them onto the property ladder which might have otherwise been impossible for them. You could either put money into a savings account, or make a smart investment such as buying some property. A studio apartment or small flat wouldn’t be too expensive, you could then put away the money you earn from it each month into savings for your child. When they’re older, they could even live in it while they get established with their career or attend a local college or university. This would save on fees for halls or renting a student house, but still give them the independence they will be craving at that age.

Keep Them Curious

Children are naturally curious about the world, and keeping this magic alive is what will give them a great capacity to learn and do well in their education. Take them to galleries and museums, go on woodland walks with fun worksheets from Pinterest where you tick off the things you see. Take them rock pool fishing and teach them about the creatures they catch, go to the farm or zoo and tell them all about the animals. Learning doesn’t have to happen in a classroom or with books, keeping kids curious and giving them a thirst for knowledge is a fantastic way to set them up later in life. With a passion to learn they’re more likely to do well in future, and a good education paves the way for gaining the skills they need to later on enjoy satisfying career that they love.

Read to your kids often, sing songs, make up stories together. Do puzzles, teach them how to bake or sew. It’s all new, fun and exciting for kids and you help them to develop passions and hobbies that can help them meet new friends and develop their skills.

Photo of a happy laughing family having a water fight with buckets of water

Encourage Them To Be Empathetic

Empathy, being able to see things from another person’s perspective and feel genuine emotions towards them seems like the most human thing in the world. However this is not a trait we are born with, those who grow up without learning how to empathise don’t show it later on, their brains do not develop in the same way. Being empathetic, sensitive and able to understand the emotions of others helps people to develop meaningful friendships and later on relationships- it helps them to become a good person.

Encourage empathy by praising empathetic behaviour, avoiding anger and encouraging kids to talk about their feelings. Being able to label your own feelings as a child is very useful, as when others speak about how they feel the child is able to understand what it means and feels like.

One option for teaching kids empathy is to take them volunteering. Feeding the homeless, helping out at a children’s hospital, volunteering at an animal shelter or at a care home can all allow them to experience different emotions of others, and learn how it feels good to help. Growing up in touch with their emotions as well as being able to perceive others will allow them to create meaningful and lasting bonds with others.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.