Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

homegrown greens Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

Sprouts are ready within a week. Sunflower and pea sprouts are ready within two weeks and microgreens take three weeks. Homegrown greens are a great way to save money.

Last year when the price of organic greens continued to climb, we decided to start growing our own indoor greens. This project was so successful that we wanted to do it again this year but we had some design problems with last year’s growing unit. While I organized my seed collection for sprouting and microgreens, my husband rebuilt the growing unit with the sprouting area above the ballasts to make use of the waste heat.

The goal this year is to produce enough sprouts and microgreens to satisfy our household. In our household, that’s about four large salads each day. Any waste production goes to the chickens or can be composted. We will still be getting organic root vegetables from the root cellar and local farmers. Exotic items from Nature’s Fare are still on the menu but growing greens at home really does save money and adds to our household food security.

grow unit 1a Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

The first step is to get the sprouting system going. The mason jar on the left is for sprouting sunflower seeds and peas. These seeds need to be soaked and rinsed for 2-3 days until they sprout. Then the seeds will be planted into trays and go into the growing unit.

On day one, I start the sprouting system. On the right, is the standard layered sprouting unit. I fill the unit with alfalfa seeds and my homemade sprouting mix. The sprouting mix has: 1 part organic broccoli seeds, 1 part organic fenugreek seeds (optional), 1 part organic radish seeds and 3 parts organic French green lentils. In the center, is a unit for making pressure method mung beans. These sprouts will be eaten fresh in a salad or stir-fry.

On the left, is a mason jar with a screen-top for rinsing the seeds. These seeds will be used in the growing unit. After experimenting, I prefer sprouting sunflowers seeds and peas. These seeds need to be soaked and then rinsed for 2-3 days before planting. I wait until I can see the radicle (tiny sprout) before planting in the tray. Sprouting before planting avoids wasting time planting nonviable seeds.

grow unit 1 Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

Day one is also for getting the trays ready for planting. This is the soil preparation box. It’s better to keep the soil indoors to avoid freezing.

The soil preparation box is filled with garden soil and compost. I add a small amount of peat to the mix before sifting the soil into the trays. You could miss this whole step if you decide to buy potting mix but buying soil is more expensive.

grow unit 2 Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

This is my homemade organic fertilizer. The recipe is: 1 part blood meal, 1 part bone meal and 1 part lime. This fertilizer is not needed if you have rich soil, compost or worm casings.

grow unit 3 Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

I half fill the trays with soil when I’m planning to grow sunflowers or peas. Microgreens take longer to grow so I add a bit more soil and some homemade organic fertilizer, if needed.

If I do add homemade organic fertilizer, I add it to some of the soil at the bottom of the flat and put more soil on top. This avoids burning the young plants. Don’t add fertilizer if you have access to rich soil, compost or worm casings.

grow unit 4 Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

I let the soil warm up in the house overnight before planting. I water each tray very well. I try to water with room temperature water. For the first watering, I add 1tsp powdered kelp to each liter of water. The kelp has micro-nutrients that will be taken up by the young plants.

mesclun mustard 14 Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

On day two after the soil warms up overnight, I plant the microgreens in one tray. I make some holes with my finger and plant one or two seeds in each hole. The goal is one seed per hole. I don’t get concerned if more go in. These seeds go straight into the soil without soaking.

I use West Coast Seed: Mustard Blend and Nicoise Mesclun Blend but there are many great blends. After planting the seeds, I water one more time. I cover the tray with an upside-down tray. This stops moisture from leaving the tray. I will leave the tray in the dark for 2-3 days. When the seeds have rooted well, I remove the tray top and put on a plastic greenhouse top and then turn on the lights.

Remember to label the trays with the date and what has been planted. I sometimes forget to do this and always regret it. The goal is to fill one tray each day. In our growing unit there are twelve trays so it should take about twelve days to load up the indoor growing unit.

sunflower sprouts 8 Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

On day three, I get the sunflower seeds ready for planting. If I haven’t already done so, I remove any broken or damaged seeds which can rot in the tray. I only plant viable seeds.

I did a typical mistake and sprouted too many sunflowers seeds. I could have given the extra seeds to the chickens. I decided to plant two trays. This won’t be a problem this early in the loading process.

sunflower tray 9 Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

I water the trays one last time. I spread the sunflower seeds carefully on the soil. The goal is to not have the seeds touch each other because they sometimes rot. I lightly press the sunflower seeds into the soil with the flat of my hand.  Do NOT cover the sunflower seeds with soil because this makes harvesting more difficult.

suflower covered 10 Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

I cover the planted tray with an upside-down tray and put the seeds in a warm, dark place. When I see good root growth, I will move these trays to the light area just below. I will remove the dark top and put on a plastic greenhouse top and then turn on the lights.

On day three, I loaded up one tray with Nicoise Mesclun Blend. I make some holes with my finger and plant one or two seeds in each hole. After planting, I give the seeds one more water. I cover the tray with an upside-down tray. This stops moisture from leaving the tray. I will leave the tray in the dark for 2-3 days then remove the dark top and replace it with a plastic greenhouse top and move the tray into the light.

spotted peas 12 Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

On day four, I filled a tray with sprouted, spotted peas. I carefully pushed the seeds into the soil. I only planted the viable seeds. The soil was very wet so I didn’t water.

move light 13 Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

On day four, the first three trays are ready to be moved into the light. I remove the dark covers and replace them with plastic greenhouse covers. It’s very important to sit the covers well to avoid moisture escaping the trays.

I will continue to fill the growing unit with one new tray every day. I rotate through: Mustard Blend, black seed-oil sunflowers,  Nicoise Mesclun Blend, spotted peas and repeat. The sunflower and pea sprouts will be ready first followed by the microgreens a week later.

growing unit day 10 Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

By day ten, eleven trays are full. Nine trays are under the lights and two trays are in the dark. The sunflower and pea sprouts are ready to be harvested.

chicken greens 14 Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

My family has been eating out of these trays for two days. I will get one more meal of salad greens from these trays. Then the trays will go to the chickens. The chickens enjoy eating the greens, seeds and roots especially during the winter when there isn’t any forage.

The sunflower and pea sprouts are ready to harvest first. I use scissors to cut the stems close to the level of the soil. The microgreens will need another week to grow before harvesting. There is a bit of mold in the left tray. I used to remove any moldy plants, root and all. This is not necessary and seems to spread the mold and stresses the other plants. I have found it’s easier to harvest any moldy plants and discard.

After the growing unit is full and depending on my family’s consumption of greens, I tend to start a new tray every 2-4 days. I continue to rotate through the four types of seeds. I hope this post was helpful in starting your own indoor homegrown greens! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

dec 10 2015 microgreens Indoor Growing Unit: Photo Essay

On the left is spotted peas and sunflower sprouts. On the right is an assortment of eleven microgreens: arugula, curled endive, curly cress, cutting chicory, dandelion, green onions, mizuna, red komatsuna, giant red mustard and two types of pac choi.


Shutting Down

Friends, I’m really sorry to have to announce this but we may have to shut down The blog is infected with over 2419 viruses and malware. Unfortunately, the cost to construct a firewall and scanning system is cost prohibitive.

I guess we should be happy for the years we have had but the internet has become a big-bad place. I sure have learned a lot.

If you have any recipes or information that has been useful to you in the past, please make a hard copy. I don’t know when I will pull down the site but I will leave the site up for another month so people can get the information they want.

Again, I am truly sorry for this bad news. Thank you for your past support. If you want to continue following the blog please go to the GO BOX Permaculture Project on Facebook.

Updated December 20, 2016: Last week we parked which means we took the site off-line to try to fix the malware problem. Unfortunately, the computer problems are beyond anyone here at GO BOX Storage to handle. We are still looking around for someone competent to maintain the site but if we do find someone the maintenance will not be for free. We’re thinking the solution might be a PayPal donate button. Then people can donate a few dollars to help us out with the costs of operating the site. Of course, donations would be optional and not required to use the site.

Healthy Household: Vertigo

self treatment BPV Healthy Household: Vertigo

Here are the Epley Exercises for home-treatment of Benign Positional Vertigo (BPV).

Thank goodness for the wonders of the internet!

About a month ago out of the blue, I started having a very scary experience. I became plagued with dizziness and nausea. I would turn my head or even roll over in bed and experience vertigo. Usually, any health problems I have are connected to my diet so I cut out the iffy foods. That didn’t help. I started taking ginger and licorice extracts. The ginger extract did help with the nausea. I started drinking ginger tea but the vertigo did not go away.

After three weeks of vertigo, most people would run to the doctor. I’m not most people but I was getting scared. So, I decided to do some internet research on dizziness and after less than five minutes found this quote on Benign Positional Vertigo:

“A person who has short episodes of intense spinning sensations when looking up or even rolling over in bed, may have BPV. This is a condition that causes small calcium carbonate crystals to become out of position from the central portion of the inner ear, where it floats about in the semi circular canals, bouncing on nerve cells and making them fire the wrong signals to the brain.”

“Because of hormonal factors women develop this condition more frequently then men. The way women process calcium could also be a factor. A women 40 years old has a 1-3% chance of getting BPV. The risk is higher the older she gets. For women who are postmenopausal BPV is the leading cause of dizziness. Thankfully the treatment for BPV is very easy. Your doctor or a physical therapist can perform a maneuver to re-position crystals in the inner ear. By applying different swift head motions it can shift the crystals to a pocket in the inner ear that is less sensitive, and will later dissolve.”*

What caught my attention was the description of exactly what I was going through and that there were exercises that a doctor or physical therapist can do to re-position the crystals. Well, I could do the exercises at home if I knew what to do! It took another five minutes of research to find the exercises. There are a number of types of exercises. I tried the Epley Exercises which were stated to work for most people. Here’s a link to a PDF download for the Epley self-help exercises.

I had someone in the family read out the directions while I did the exercises. I did the exercises twice and 90% of the vertigo disappeared! Within another two days the vertigo was completely gone! I think I had done the exercises a total of eight times. The exercises are very easy to do. There was no need for a doctor’s visit or medications.

Like I said, the wonders of the internet! The internet is an amazing modern resource for finding health information quickly that would have taken days or weeks to research a generation ago. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the internet to help solve my own household health problems and not have to resort to using the medical system.

* Here’s the link to the original article on Benign Positional Vertigo which got me on the right track for solving my vertigo.
11 Causes of Dizziness

For more recipes please see Healthy Household: Staying Clean Safely and Saving Money.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

“Freedom refers inwardly to our moral lives, and outwardly to choosing among alternatives that define our lives. Liberty, in contrast refers to the physical aspects of freedom.”
The War Against the Family by William Gairdner

thanksgiving 1 Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I want to thank local farmers Magi and Don Buchanan of China Valley Poultry Farm for the delicious pastured turkey.

This Thanksgiving I have much to be thankful for. I have a healthy family, a successful business, and a happy marriage.

But during holiday times, food is always on my mind. I want to especially thank local farmers Magi and Don Buchanan of China Valley Poultry Farm for the delicious pastured turkey that honored my family’s table. The organic squash from Ed and Daniela Basile of Sun River Organics made a fantastic pumpkin dessert.

But I found myself looking at the richness of my holiday table. I could not name all the faceless, nameless people that have worked to provide such a rich bounty. I found myself grateful for the spontaneous order of the market — that like magic — had brought this bounty to my home.

“The expression ‘the paradox of freedom’ means that whenever we exercise our freedom we limit ourselves, simple by choosing one alternative over another… The important point here is that to use our freedom is to limit our freedom in all sorts of ways.”

thanksgiving 2 Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

A BIG thank you to all the faceless, nameless people that make up the spontaneous order of the market and provide my family will such a rich bounty.

I know not everyone would like pastured turkey for Thanksgiving. I then thanked the free market for providing moose, lamb, pork, goose, fish and tofurkey (tofu turkey) for those that would prefer these options. I found myself glad that people that preferred to eat Thanksgiving at McDonald’s could do so, while others would enjoy a five course offering at the Brownstone.

I found myself thankful for all the choices that the market brings to my community.

“The glory of our freedom is that by limiting it in one way, and not the other, we define ourselves by our actions. We live and feel our freedom by making positive decisions to say ‘no’ to specific alternatives. At bottom, freedom is the ability to say ‘no’.”

thanksgiving 3 Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I want to to thank organic farmers Ed and Daniela Basile of Sun River Organics for the fantastic squash that made a delicious pumpkin dessert. The recipes are below.

Happy Thanksgiving! May we continue to have food freedom. May we continue to have the personal liberty to celebrate the holiday as we see fit.

Holiday Dinner Menu
Onion Gravy
Crock Hot Peppers

Dandelion Chai Tea

“Dandelion is a wonderful food as well as a beneficial medicine. It supports overall health by gently working to improve the functioning of the liver, gallbladder, urinary and digestive systems. It is excellent for cleansing the skin.”
Backyard Medicine: Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies by Julie Bruton-Seal

dandelion chai 2 Dandelion Chai Tea

Dandelion Chai Spice blend is a spicy, caffeine-free tea nice in the fall and winter.

Dandelion root has long been used as a caffeine-free, coffee and tea substitute. Eating dandelion root is also a great way to solve your weed problem!

Some people like to dry-roast the dandelion root in a case-iron pan before brewing. This blend does not require dry-roasting the dandelion root but you might like to try dry-roasting the dandelion root and see if you like this spice blend better.

12 organic cinnamon sticks
4 whole organic nutmeg
20 whole organic cloves
20-25 whole organic green or black peppercorns
24 whole organic green cardamon pods
1/4c dried organic ginger
8 whole organic star anise (optional)
1tsp sea salt
1/2c garden dried dandelion root

dandelion chai 3 Dandelion Chai Tea

For best results use whole spices which keep much longer in storage. A frugal householder should consider buying spices whole and grinding fresh whenever possible.

Coarsely grind all the spices and dandelion root. The pieces should be like a very coarsely ground coffee. Store the tea blend in a glass jar.

To make the tea, boil 1L of filtered water and add a handful of the spice blend. Simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the tea and save the spices. The spice mixture can be used again until it loses its potency.

I like storing the brewed spiced drink in a thermos for later use. The spice mixture gives the drink a naturally sweet flavor. Add some organic whipping cream or homemade coconut milk for a ketogenic drink. If desired, add some local honey. This fragrant drink is great in cold weather.

Whole spices keep much longer in storage. The frugal householder should consider buying whole spices whenever possible.

dandelion chai Dandelion Chai Tea

The spice mixture should be coarsely ground to make staining easier. This spice blend is made from dried, whole spices. It should be made in small amounts regularly for best results.

“Roasted dandelion root is a well known and caffeine-free coffee substitute. We grind the roasted root with a few pods of cardamon just before brewing; it’s also tasty with cinnamon and fennel seed.”