A pretty unbiased Ditch the Dirt Book Review. A while ago I ordered the new book from titled Ditch The Dirt, written by Rob Laing, CEO of Farm.One which is also based here in New York. I’d heard about what they’re doing a while back through some friends in the venture community. Since then I have been following their progress and development as a company. So I was pretty excited to learn that we’d be getting a book on indoor farming from someone who’s had so much success in urban agriculture. My initial thoughts were that this book would help facilitate growing food at home, and it’s description on Amazon, pretty much states just that.
“Growing plants hydroponically―in water instead of soil―is easier thank you think. Ditch the Dirt will teach you the basics of hydroponic growing at home, including how to set up and take care of your garden, information on the most interesting edible plants, and delicious ways to use your harvest in your next meal.”
So I ordered it on Amazon and got to reading, and I have to say the book’s a short read. Literally went through it in an afternoon and I wouldn’t say I read quickly. The book is aesthetically pretty and a nice addition to any bookshelf, but that’s not why we ordered it. The book has a ton of valuable information on the types of plants you can grow in hydroponic environments at home, their needs, etc…
It is not however a book about hydroponics, or how to set up systems to grow your food at home. For that we are now reading –DIY Hydroponic Gardens which thus far has been immensely more valuable in terms of building the damn things. But I digress.
Ditch the Dirt starts with a quick overview of hydroponics. What it is, a bit of history on it and shows a few simple diagrams of the different systems like ebb and flow. The section on building your own hydroponic system is 2 pages long. So if you’re looking to learn how to do hydro at home. This is not the book for you.
However, if you’re looking for an intro to growing hydro at home, it’s a good “oh that’s interesting” book. If you’re any kind of serious about growing at home, you’ll want to move on to something more advanced almost immediately afterwards. So while the book may not be a comprehensive guide to hydroponics, it does shine nonetheless.
At about 60 pages in you get to the real heart of the book, and this is where it really it excels. Ditch the Dirt is in the massive collection of what to the daily diet are unique and uncommon greens; that you can grow hydroponically, which if you think about it makes sense considering the authors main gig. An indoor farm in Manhattan growing rare herbs and greens, year-roun
The book is fundamentally an instruction manual on how to grow a literal ton of rarer greens in hydro – and the list is impressive and presented in a very aesthetically pleasing manner. The paper is good, the photos excellent, and the paper is glossed and pretty. More importantly you get the plant’s origin, what it looks like, seed to sprout time, seed to first harvest time, and some culinary information on what to pair it with. Which is in all actuality pretty great.
Recommendation: Ok. So do we recommend it? Depends what you want it for? If it’s to learn how to hydro at home. The answer is a hard no. If you are however looking for into on how to expand your hydro collection; are looking to find greens to grow in your hydroponic setup at home, or basement, or a shipping container then totally get it.
The other book I’m reading seems a lot more promising in terms of actual instructions on how to build Hydropoinc systems at home, and I’ll be working on putting one together in July so stay tuned and sign up to our newsletter. If any of these books interest you, just follow the links as each purchase helps us out a bit.
On December 4th 2017, or over 6 months ago, I ordered a Click and Grow Smart Garden 9 for reviewing it on this site, and to grow some fresh greens at home. When we first reviewed the product after 2 months and weren’t very excited about it. After tinkering with it, I do think it requires a second review.
When I first ordered the Click and Grow Smart Garden 9, I received three marketing emails in quick succession. One to get $25 off and refer a friend. One for a free Smart Garden 3 (received on the same day that I placed my order). The last marketing communication to buy another garden and some flowers to grow in said garden.
About my order however, I’ve received nothing. No notification, nada. Not good, for a number of reasons.
Starting first with the customer experience.
- I had no idea where my Smart Garden was, whether the order was being fulfilled, if it was en route, or being assembled in China.
- I just knew that I was billed the $50.
- I soon followed up by sending the people at Click and Grow an email, asking what was the order status.
- I took them 2 weeks to respond stating high volume.
Having built digital businesses for fortune 500 brands, to me this was more a fault of poor customer experience and service design than anything else.
Out of curiosity I looked a bit deeper at the company, the Click and Grow team has raised about ~$7MM to develop and bring the product to market. Honestly for this amount in raised capital, it seems there’s general mismanagement and lack of focus at the corporate level. Either way they’re doing good things, so I figure let it slide.
Next up, we’ve got their ordering and fulfillment system, which is a total nightmare to get started with. Their ordering system doesn’t seem to be integrated. I had to create a second Click and Grow account in order to change the plant pods that were being delivered. Once we got going though it was ok. It could use a user experience / customer experience overhaul, but not the end of the world.
Growing with the Click and Grow Smart Garden 9
Here’s where it gets interesting. The Click and Grow Smart Garden 9 isn’t for everything and the plant selection on the site is a bit misleading. Some plants like parsley, basil, mustard greens will flourish, whereas other plants, i.e. kale, tomatoes don’t do so well. It’s a bit hit and miss with the plant selection and at $3/plant it’s all a bit expensive for sub par quality.
That said when it does it work, it works great. We’ve used the lick and Grow Smart Garden 9 to grow 9 of the same plant and withing a few weeks were able to have a salad of mustard greens that we mixed into out sore bought romaine.
The other issue I’ve noticed is that the growing medium will sometimes get moldy, though the company assured me this is normal. And the growing medium will sometimes dry out. I’m not sure as to why this is the case but will have to investigate it further. The Click and Grow does have to be cleaned out every so often as it can get overgrown. I’ve also started adding in my own hydroponic fertilizer which has definitely helped in seeing better plant growth.
Check out the original review, or read about how we grew microgreens with the hamama greens kit. If you’d like to get a garden for yourself, please use our Click and Grow Smart Garden 9 affiliate link to Amazon , or the Click and Grow Smart Garden 3.
We’re really excited to join a CSA this summer. Our first CSA delivery won’t be ready for another week and already we can’t wait to taste our seasonal goodies. If you’re not familiar with the concept, here’s a brief overview of the what and why of joining a CSA.
CSA stands for community supported agriculture and is a concept that brings together local farmers with local customers. While specific CSAs vary, customers generally sign up for a weekly or biweekly supply of fresh, seasonal and local fruit and veggies, which may be supplemented by other products like eggs, meat, honey, spices, beer or milk. We’ll be picking up our CSA weekly at a chill local bar here in Brooklyn. (more…)
Why are peat bogs important? Let’s start off with some facts. Peat bogs are a massive carbon sink and aid in the storage of carbon, containing more locked away carbon that the world’s forests. Peat covers 2-3% of the earth’s surface making it relatively scarce. Forests for example cover 31%. Using peat as either fuel, or in gardening, releases carbon back into the atmosphere. Peat is not regarded as a renewable due to its extraction rate in industrialized countries. Estimates put peat bog mass harvested each year at 60 times less than the mass that accumulates. Using peat is not sustainable. (more…)
Apartment Farming. Growing indoors in an apartment, is growing in sub-optimal conditions. Commercial vertical farms crate optimal conditions for growth. They cool or heat their grow areas provide optimal nutrient delivery and lighting for whatever green it is they’re growing. Most of us however don’t have access to that.
Growing indoors doesn’t present the same luxury. We have to live where we grow and indoor temperatures can range from the 60’s during winter to the high 80’s and even 90’s in summer. AC doesn’t blow evenly and in cities steam pipes can make the insides of apartments feel like saunas. Brooklyn anyone? (more…)
Turns out we had a need to put together a LED grow shelf. Here’s how we did it. Would love feedback and comments. Growing edible plants indoors, on shelves, with LED lights, means you need space, but how much space is enough? Micro-greens are easy because you can stack them them on top of one another. However, what if you’re growing baby kale, or arugula at home? Well, we wanted to find out.
Growing plants take up space, and space is a major issue when considering growing greens in an urban apartment environment. So how do you go about allocating as much room as you can for your indoor greens farm without making too much of an impact on your living square footage? (more…)
We’ve had the Click and Grow for about two months now. It’s given us two small lettuces, and we have been picking here and there at mustard greens, basil and parsley. Two months in I think we have a pretty decent understanding of the device and it’s pros and cons. Best put, the Click and Grow is disappointing if you’re looking to grow food at home.If you want a system to grow plants or have a fun activity with the kids, then the Click and Grow could be for you. Onto the Click and Grow Review however.
Methodology: When reviewing this, or any other product, our first goals at GreenerPods is to see how well the device can help you grow your greens or food at home to make any measurable impact on nutrition and budget, followed by how seamlessly it blends into the home environment, and lastly how well it’s designed as a product. (more…)
Why is home grown food important? Why is growing food at home something that – for us – should be embraced in every household? The answer is complex and involves a number of factors. Nutrition, eating better, fresher, and healthy, it’s understanding to respect the food we put into our bodies and where it comes from. It’s taking an active part in that process, its also sustainability and decreasing our carbon footprints – just imagine the hundreds if not thousands of miles it took your “fresh” baby kale to travel to your supermarket, the plastic container it came in, it’s production and carbon output.
The point I’m trying to make here is, the agricultural supply chain is inherently more complex than how we perceive it most of the time.There are numerous elements we often forget to apply when considering our own eating habits. Additionally it allows a means for people to get the freshest greens and in turn nutrients available on their kitchen table with little to no work. Recently, a University of California, Davis study showed that vegetables can lose 15 to 55 percent of vitamin C, for instance, within a week. Spinach can lose 90 percent within the first 24 hours after harvest (see chart on page 4).Now what if that same spinach was picked fresh in your kitchen in February and tossed into a salad? That’s what we’re trying to accomplish here – in part.
For part one, (the ordering experience) head over here. Otherwise, continue reading.
Hamama Greens is Based out of SF and they produce home grow kits for microgreens. When writing this review I reached out to them via their website, and Camille, one of the founders was awesome enough to answer my questions, so some of this comes directly from her.
In addition to general questions about the device, I asked Camille what she’d like to accomplish with Hamama, and her quote was pretty awesome. “Our goal is to help as many people as possible experience that gardener’s high and get hooked. The feeling of eating something healthy that you had a part in producing.” Which to us is very solid. We’d love for every household in the US to grow a portion of their food at home, in fact that’s a big part of our mission so this resonated pretty well with us.
Cool, so let’s start it off with this – we’ve had them growing for four days and so far it works, and pretty well, but onto that in a bit. First let’s look at what you get for $35 bucks (looking around the internet the price here seems to have increased. (more…)
Let’s start off with this Hamama Greens has a pretty great mission which we align with here, they “want to help create a world where anyone can grow and eat fresh food as a part of a healthy lifestyle routine.” Right on! As someone who believes accessibility to fresh nutritious greens is pivotal, this initiative speaks to me. Price wise it’s also economical, the starter kit which comes with everything you need to get going is $35, this comes with enough seeds to grow your greens for a month, and then a monthly subscription to seeds at $16/month.
From my research this is one of the less expensive options, which is awesome, as economic accessibility to fresh greens is super important, and the monthly seed subscription won’t break the bank. Lastly if you love the system, Hamama Greens also offers a microgreen flat they call a grow tray for $25. Not bad at all. You can all this on their website, and they use Shopify with a custom domain to process all transactions.
I ordered over thanksgiving weekend and the microgreen kit was shipped that Monday by USPS, and arrived here in Brooklyn NY, Friday morning. We’ll get to setting all this up soon and will post updates here.
UPDATE!!!!! We’ve been getting the Hamama Greens kits for ~ 6 months now, and wanted to update our Hamama greens review. In short we’re absolutely thrilled with their product aside from one tiny snafu which was the postman’s fault.
We have Hamama greens every 7-10 days with our salads and eggs and sandwiches and are love the product so much we’ve bough it for friends and family. Get on this! Here’s part two of the review.
In terms of other indoor kits, we’ve done considerable research and have opted to simply start growing our food at home in coconut coir and hydroponic systems. More on that later though. If you’d like a Hamama Kit, you can get one form their site or support us by getting one here.