Capturing Rain From One of Our Sheds

Capturing Rain From One of Our Sheds
These copper rain gutters are beautiful and help harvest rainwater!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gardening is on the rise...

with the local food movement growing. But gardening can have more of an impact on those who practice it than just the harvest at the end of the season. Most who garden, will express a deep connection with the earth. They are drawn to gardening because tending to the soil is calming, because feeling the earth in your hands is playful, and this type of "work" can replace an aspect that is  missing in our technological lives today. As James Jiler, the founder and executive director of Urban GreenWorks says, gardening  "allows people to connect to this primal state". Gardeners of all ages and backgrounds can tell you this pastime creates a beautiful connection with our Earth!

Besides this relationship, there are many other benefits to gardening that seem to be a little more tangible. Gardening has been found to reduce stress, even better than other leisure activities in many studies (CNN Health). It provides an outlet and allows our mind to wander in "effortless attention" rather than being pulled in a million ways at once. This aspect has been tied to relieving symptoms of depression and other mood disorders. As you might have guessed, gardening is also a form of exercise. It gets your blood flowing and you could even work up a sweat! You also have the added bonus of being outdoors in the sunshine which is always a mood booster.

Finally, it comes full circle. As gardening allows us to connect to our Earth it allows us to build a strong connection with the food we eat. "When you commit time, effort and money to caring for your plants, you naturally feel a stronger connection to the food they produce than something you just plucked off a grocery store shelf" says Mary Mazzoni, Assistant Editor of Earth911. This goes a long way to improving our nutritional values and our everyday food choices. Not to mention the fruits and veggies that will grow in a home garden will often taste better and be packed with more vitamins than those from the store.

Gardening is an all around good! It gets us in touch with our Earth and lets us enjoy the fruits- and veggies- of our labor, while promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Here's to wishing you a happy harvest and the motivation to get out and garden!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...

 the "3 R's" of going green. At A Place to Grow we focus heavily on the reuse part of that saying. By finding a way to re-purpose materials from other buildings, houses, or commercial stuctures is a great way to lessen our environmental impact and add a special touch to the structure being built.

A large part of our recycled greenhouses is the wood we use to construct them. In our case we have chosen to "reuse" and build the greenhouses from reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood is a great option and even better, allows us to stay true to our pledge of sustainability. So what exactly is reclaimed wood? It is any processed wood that is taken from its original implementation and used for some other purpose. This is where our job gets interesting. We search for pieces of barns, warehouses, or our special favorite, wine flavor sticks in an effort to build our greenhouses!

There are many advantages to using reclaimed wood. First and foremost, it lessens our negative environmental impact. This is achieved because it lessens the demand for new lumber, slowing deforestation. It decreases the amount of material sent to the landfill and there is less energy used to create new supplies. Secondly, reclaimed wood is usually harder and better quality because it has been harvested from an old growth forest instead of young trees. This aspect is great for building because it results in strong, reliable structures. Thirdly, is the look. Reclaimed wood normally has a worn, antique look to it that is very hard to come by with new lumber. This appearance allows for a very unique creation with each added piece. Finally, reclaimed lumber can come with a special story attached. Whether it came from an old ship yard, a family home, or a winery the story passed along with the material gives it character that you cannot come by any other way.

Reclaimed wood is an easy and fun way to build sustainably, and we can't wait to hear more of the stories that these pieces tell!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

This year...

as we rush toward the holidays, the time seems to be going faster than ever. There is the overwhelming feeling of constantly having to play catch up just to stay in the same place! It can be exhausting! In the midst of all this hustle and bustle at the start of this November, I was struck by just how important it is be full of thanks. All too often, Thanksgiving day only serves a small reminder once a year for us to remember what we're grateful for, when really is it so important to remember how much we have everyday!

Author Melody Beattie sums it up perfectly, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."

This has inspired me, as I hope it will you to move forward practicing gratitude. Practicing gratitude, while seemingly tedious at first, has been found by multiple studies to be linked with more creativity, a healthier immune system, and even a stronger heart! It can strengthen your relationships with spouses, family and friends. Practicing gratitude can bring focus onto priorities and help you thrive.

Even though it may seem like this week has been particularly hard, or you are not where you want to be, or that no one else could possibly have it worse than you do, it is important to stay grateful. Because whether it is as big as the new job offer you just received or simply the fact you were able to get out of bed this morning, everyone can benefit from practicing gratitude everyday.

A Place to Grow is thankful for our opportunity to offer our services to the community while learning and sharing these experiences with everyone we meet! What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fall is upon us...

you can feel it in the air! This year it seemed that summer kept us bathed in sunshiney warmth until late October, but with daylight savings time rearing its head, the chill and the colder temperatures are back.  However, as it turns out, fall and winter are excellent times to begin a flourishing vegetable garden!

Fall and winter gardening is an easy and productive way to replace essential nutrients that have been used up in the soil. And of course in a few months you'll have your hands on some delicious vegetables! So what are the best crops to plant this time of year?

Early Maturing Crops: (Mature after about 30 days)
-Broccoli, Mustard, Spinach, Leaf Lettuce, Chives, Radishes

Mid Season Crops: (Mature after about 60 days)
- Leeks, Turnip, Winter Cauliflower, Perennial Flowers and Herbs

Late Maturing Crops:(Mature after about 90 days)
-Carrots, Parsnip, Rutabaga, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbages

Listed here are just a few examples, but there are many vegetables that thrive during this season!
A key to the success of your fall/winter garden is to plant at a time when the roots can become established before an intense frost can occur. This can vary greatly, depending on where you live or even year to year.

There is no time better than the present to begin your fall and winter vegetable garden. Not only does this technique benefit the soil, it allows for color and diversity in your garden. As Robert Frost puts it simply, in his poem Blueberries, "Who cares what they say? It's a nice way to live, just taking what nature is willing to give"

Happy growing!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blending Together Ideas...

Is something we try to do often at A Place to Grow. It seems that everyone has something beneficial to offer! So today, in honor of Halloween and the blending of ideas, I thought I would share one of my favorite fall crafts. The Succulent Pumpkin Planter! A perfect blend of the Central Coasts love for succulents and this season's symbol, the pumpkin. Though today is Halloween, don't worry, these decorative planters are the perfect accent for all of autumn or even year round.

In order to create this fun and easy twist on the typical Jack O' Lantern, here is what you will need:
  • A Pumpkin- Mix it up! Any shape, size, or color will work.
  • Serrated knife and scooping spoon
  • Potting soil
  • A variety of succulents
The process is pretty simple. First, cut a circle around the stem of the pumpkin (as you would a normal Jack O' Lantern). Remove the lid you have just created and begin scooping out all the seeds and gooey pumpkin insides. Then fill the inside half way up with soil and place in the desired succulent. Fill in the empty space inside the pumpkin with more soil, if needed. You're done, your very own Succulent Pumpkin Planter!

Enjoy spending time with your family and friends as we head into the thick of the holiday season, and remember use it as a chance to get creative with all you grow in your garden!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creating Sacred Spaces...

is one of the things I enjoy the most about our unique outdoor structures. We recently installed a greenhouse in Paso Robles and the new owner asked politely if we would mind "participating in a blessing of the greenhouse".  Of course we would love to, what better way to learn and grow with our community?

We began by forming a circle, holding a candle. The color of the candle was pink, a representation of Tibetan Pink Quartz which signifies peace, joy, intuition and protection. We lit the candle and passed it person to person while reading the following blessing prayer "To the divine spirit, in lighting this candle we summon love, harmony, peace and prosperity into this house. May we be blessed with good health, happiness, success and abundance. May those that visit feel peace and love. We decree that this house be shielded from harm, illness and misfortune. Thank you for bringing light, love and energy into our hearts, this room and our endeavors. With tremendous gratitude, we thank you." We then let the candle burn for one hour in the structure.

It is these moments that continue to remind me of why I chose this path. Each and everyone of us has a sacred place, a place that is highly valued, important, or greatly respected. Whether it be the end of a hiking trail, the dinner table, a sun-drenched shore, or in this case a newly created greenhouse. It is place we can be satisfied and peaceful just being. The idea of sacred spaces reminds me of a quote by John Muir, a well-known naturalist, he says "Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in where nature may heal and give strength to the body and soul".  We agree,  and could not be happier that we at A Place to Grow have a hand in creating those sacred spaces.

We look forward to sharing and creating sacred spaces with you all!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Leap of Faith...

is what I did last month when I left my government job of 23 years and transitioned into A Place to Grow, Recycled Greenhouses! I have been in turn exhilarated, blissful, terrified, panicked and completely happy since I took the leap!!

Leaps of faith are just that, you leap and trust that your faith in what you are doing will carry you safely across the bridge to the other side. Wikipedia defines it this way "A leap of faith, in its most commonly used meaning, is the act of believing in or accepting something intangible or unprovable, or without empirical evidence."

My leap of faith was that as I chose to pursue something that means more to me on a deeper level and that benefits others in the process. It fulfills me at a soul level to help others create their places to grow. I look forward to throwing myself completely into this next phase of my life! In the meantime if you feel compelled, please visit the following link to cast your vote for A Place to Grow, Recycled Greenhouses as we have entered in the Martha Stewart American Made Contest that recognizes businesses across America that are finding innovative ways to do business!

I look forward to having the time to share my passion for gardening and sacred spaces with you!

Thank you!

Dana O'Brien
A Place to Grow, Recycled Greenhouses

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

As Summer Solstice is rapidly approaching...

it makes me yearn for those long, lazy days of summer spent in my garden and reading good books! The reality is that my garden takes a lot of my time and attention and is completely worth it!! I will be planting my pumpkin seeds soon so that I have pumpkins by Halloween!

As the end of the month approaches we are installing one of our glass houses at a home in Cambria that she will use as an outdoor room for relaxation. The structure has such a great feel to it, I will be sharing photos of it next week after we install it.

We are moving our business later this month to a facility that has a reclaimed wood business that we will be able to collaborate with! So many positive and exciting changes going on right now!

Happy Summer Solstice to you all.....

Dana O'Brien
A Place to Grow
805 704-1155

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I am happy to say.......

that we installed our creative outdoor structure at Sage Ecological Landscapes & Nursery in Los Osos, California to be used as a cut flower kiosk!!

This unique structure was built out of predominantly re purposed materials that were collected from throughout the Central Coast of California! The following is a list of the materials and where they came from:

The back wall and side windows/doors came from a house in SLO that was designed and built by a Cal Poly Architecture graduate in the 1960’s and are made of redwood. They are one of a kind.

The French doors came from Solvang and the front windows from a cabin in San Miguel. The corrugated metal on the roof came from an old farmhouse in Nipomo. The redwood siding is old growth redwood murch from a garden retaining wall in Atascadero. The fence boards are from a house in SLO.

We have taken all of these unique materials and re purposed them into this functional artistic flower kiosk for Sage!

Stop by and check it out, it is truely an example of functional art!!

Happy growing!

Dana O'Brien
 A Place to Grow
805 704-1155

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter marks the time for me to look forward to...

getting my raised beds ready for the spring planting of all things salsa- tomatoes, cilantro, onions, jalapenos you get the picture!

In order to get my beds ready for planting I have a little work to do. First I need to wait until my soil is no longer soggy then pull out any weeds that have grown over the winter as I let my beds rest. While the beds were resting, I have added a 1/2" or so of compost and raked it into the top 2' of soil.. I then aerate with a garden fork Assuming my compost has the right amounts of green-nitrogen rich  grass clippings, vegetable and fruit rinds from the kitchen versus carbon-rich brown materials such as leaves from the yard, dead flowers from the garden and shredded newspapers, then the ph should be pretty neutral. You can always test your soil to make sure you have a neutral ph before you plant.A trick when adding fall leaves to your compost is to rake them up, put them in a large plastic trash can and weed whip them until they are broken up. You want to do this otherwise they will create a moisture barrier in your compost pile/bin and take much longer to break down.

After the soil is ready, I test the drip irrigation to see if anything needs to be repaired before I plant. Planting is the last and the best part!!

I don't think I can wait till July for my tomatoes to ripen!!

Happy Easter Everyone!

Dana O'Brien
A Place to Grow, Recycled Green Houses
805 704-1155

Saturday, February 23, 2013

We won first place today....

for the Best Booth at the North County Home Garden & Gourmet Expo at the Paso Robles Fairgrounds! We had a fantastic day filled with wonderful people looking for their own Places to Grow! If you didn't make it by today, come on by tomorrow, Sunday, we will be there from 10-4!

Best to you,

Dana O'Brien
A Place to Grow Recycled Green Houses
805 704-1155

Friday, February 22, 2013

Our First Home Show is tomorrow....

at the Paso Robles Event Center at the Fairgrounds! It is the North County Home, Garden & Gourmet Expo and should bring out a large crowd! We are excited to showcase our trade show booth and show people the different types of places to grow! Come on out and see us!

Dana O'Brien
A Place to Grow, Recycled Green Houses
805 704-1155

Friday, February 15, 2013

As we are heading into spring....

I found this article on what we need to do in February to prepare for spring! It gives us guidance for each of the zones so happy reading and here's to having an amazing, organic, growing season!

zone by zone to do list

Happy Growing!

Dana O'Brien
A Place to Grow, Recycled Green Houses
805 704-1155

Saturday, January 19, 2013

With the New Year Comes the Opportunity

to reflect on the year that has just passed and celebrate the accomplishments while ruminating over those things that didn't quite go as planned. I am happy to say that we built three places to grow and started our first donated unit! We are also much anticipating our first Home Show which is taking place on February 23 & 24 at the Paso Robles Event Center-here is the link for more information:

North County Home, Garden & Gourmet Expo at the Paso Robles Event Center

We hope to see you there, please stop by and say hello at our booth!

Dana O'Brien
A Place to Grow
805 704-1155