Building a home is an exciting experience that many couples dream of. As children arrive and a family grows, many aspects of life change, including your home needs. Since building a home is an expensive (and stressful!) endeavor, avoid dissatisfaction and rework down the line by considering family needs upfront.
Consider Your Children
If you have or plan to have children, you need to consider them in the entire process from property location to interior and exterior home design.
Potential considerations may be:
Is the neighborhood safe and child-friendly (e.g. playground close by, low-traffic street)?
Is the property close to great schools?
Are we close to their playmates and/or family? (Think babysitters and socialization opportunities.)
Will we designate a place for them to do homework quietly?
Is there an area of the home designated for play and/or toy storage?
Will the home office or bedroom be located sufficiently close or away from the kids area?
Will we have a pool? How will we protect our young children from wondering near the pool?
Will the children share rooms or have separate rooms?
Are there sufficient bathrooms? Will the kids share a bathroom?
Consider Life Once Your Children Move Out
I know it may seem like 18 (or 20 or 30!) years is a long time, but you will also find that it flies by in a blink! The rooms in your home, once designated for your toddlers, then teens, will be vacated as children move out or go off to college. What will you do?
Designer Lyndira Fowler suggests repurposing those rooms. For example, turn a vacant bedroom into a home office, home gym and so on. She also suggests these considerations be made up front so that parents aren’t caught off guard when they become empty nesters. That is, do we really need a room for each child or can they share?
Make It Child-Friendly
Imagine this. You spend thousands on high-end wallpaper and relish in its beauty each time you pass by. One day, you notice a little person admiring the wallpaper with a marker in hand. Your beautiful, expensive wallpaper is now the canvas for your toddler’s art. Wooooo sahhh!
Kid friendly design elements include:
Washable sofa covers (or darker colored sofas)
Vinyl flooring or carpet tiles
Semi-gloss paint (marker, crayon and chalk wash off easily)
Remember to keep glass elements out of reach and to secure large items such as televisions, large mirrors and dressers. These can be potentially hazardous for children.
Consider Your Lifestyle
Do you enjoy watching movies together as a family? If so, you may want to prioritize a large living room with sight lines to the kitchen. Do your children love to chat with you as you cook? Consider a large kitchen island with stools. Is an open concept floor plan better suited to your family style or do you prefer compartmentalized?
One of our recent panelists, Dr. Sentra Johnson-Jordan shared on a recent Wife HER! Live that one of the mistakes she made was failing to put a door on her home office given she is working from home and has a teenager who loves to play music and video games. She cautioned home builders to think about their daily lifestyle and family structure and design with this in mind.
Purchase furniture that can work in both child and adult spaces and high quality pieces that can last for generations or at least a few years.
Note: If you think your children are going to destroy the furniture in a couple of years regardless of the price or quality, opt for inexpensive furniture. You know your family better than anyone!
We hope that you enjoy your home ownership journey and that you create a sanctuary for your family that will be filled with love, laughter and happy memories for years to come.
Gardening is an amazing pastime that anyone can partake in. Yes, even you!
If you’re not entirely sure where to begin, have no fear. This two-part blog series will provide tips to assist you in starting your very own home garden. If you’re interested in starting an indoor garden, check out the first blog in this series, Beginner Friendly Tips from the Experts: Starting an Indoor Garden. In this blog, experts Tashae Haughton, DeAndra Deveaux, Chinyere Culmer, Deon Gibson and Jahmai Fisher will give us the confidence to start an outdoor garden.
Supplies & Products Needed
Some items you will need to start your outdoor garden are:
Deon Gibson, a local farmer and Agricultural Manager for the One Eleuthera Foundation, provides the following guidelines for beginners: “You must determine how you want to grow, and by this I mean whether or not you are going to grow in raised beds, directly in the ground or in pots or containers. I encourage you to get compost and manure no matter where you are growing; but if using pots or containers, get potting soil; if growing in the ground or raised beds, get native top soil and mix with compost and manure at a ratio of 10:5:3. You’d also need a trowel, seedling trays and a seed starting medium or “pro-mix”.”
According to Deon, the easiest plants to grow are beans, and one of the most difficult are thyme and rosemary, but that doesn’t guarantee you success or failure with one or the other. Deon cautions, “Read seed packets if starting from seeds and follow the guidelines, or you can purchase seedlings from nurseries and farmers.”
Seed Starting Mix or Potting Soil
Seed starting mix is a blend of various seeds used in helping the seed to become a seedling without the use of soil (Underground Garden).
HGTV suggests seed starting mix over potting soil for the beginning stages of seed growth as, in the beginning, the plant receives nutrients from the seed itself and, due to there being no soil, the plant will not be exposed to fungi.
Deon explains, “A seed starting mix is designed to aid in the germination process and feed the plant to the point of transplanting; whereas potting soil is a growing medium designed usually to last a few months and has properties similar to ground soil. Potting soil is slightly enhanced for the unnatural environment of a pot, such as moisture retention and perlite and organic matter for aeration along with long term feeding of the plant, though after a few months vegetable crops will need more feed.“
“I don’t think its a matter of recommending one or the other, but rather knowing when to use each and how to apply them when applicable.“
Research suggests that it is best to water plants in the morning. Morning watering is preferable to evening water as, in the morning, the sun is not at its optimum as yet so the water will not evaporate.
Agricultural expert DeAndra Deveaux suggests watering your plans every single day.
“The same way that we need water and food every day to survive, is the same way plants need water and nutrients to survive. Do not over water your plants if you missed a day of watering. Plants will show you signs of needing attention like wilting and yellowing of the leaves. So be sure that your plant is looking healthy every day and you are doing your part in making it happen.”
Home gardener Chinyere Culmer, pictured in her garden below, uses PVC pipes and has her own custom watering system.
When asked about her garden set up, she explained, “We had used most of the garden space in the yard, so we expanded our space by using PVC pipes along our fence. My husband, who is a professional plumber, also installed a watering system in the pipe for watering. We use [the PVC pipe] planter for our kale, arugula, lettuce and leafy salad plants.”
Dealing with Unwanted Visitors
Gardens get their fair share of unwanted visitors, from small ones such as bugs to larger ones like cats and dogs. To deal with pests, blog Farmer Salamanac suggests making a homemade bug spray with a spray bottle of warm water and a little liquid dish soap. They also suggest planting onion and garlic around crops that tend to have the most pests. To deal with cats and dogs, place a barrier around the garden with wire, fencing, sticks or plastic forks.
Understanding Gardening Zones
Plants grown in sunny climates may not be able to grow in colder climates. In order to determine what grows best in your area, knowing your gardening zone is helpful. There is a gardening zone map that divides areas in North America into 11 different zones (National Gardening Association). The zones are divided based on the temperature of each area.
Avid gardener Jahmai states, “While gardening zones are traditionally an American based system, this can give you an idea of when it is best to sow or plant things and when to expect a harvest. There are even sow/harvest charts you can find online for specific crop recommendations. While there isn’t an official gardening zone classification for The Bahamas, I would recommend using Gardening Zone 10 as it is South Florida’s. This is a great way to use climate to your advantage and be informed about which crops thrive during different times of the year.”
Canadian gardener Tashae Haughton recommends that you do research to ensure that you know what grows in your climate. She said, “If you live in Northern America, like myself, you can’t grow a pineapple like someone who lives in sunny conditions all year round. It’s very critical to do research on items that you can grow seasonally. For example for my climate condition, I prefer to plant warm season crops (June-September), which includes, peppers, cucumbers, sweet potato, okra, tomatoes and beans. It would be a waste of time to plant a vegetable that won’t thrive, especially being a first time gardener.”
Combating Weather Changes
In The Bahamas, shifts in weather aren’t that drastic. However, for gardeners in other climates, more planning and preparation is required. Tashae shares, “Being from Toronto, Canada the weather has a mind of its own. In April 2020 we experienced snow and even the first week of May. I always check the weather before transplanting my plants outside. Since they are in containers, if I notice that it will rain for 4 days straight I will leave them inside. This is why I like gardening towards the end of May or early June when I know the temperature will be at least 20 degrees Celsius or above.”
“Grow what you eat most. Grow a good amount… enough for you and your household, and please share with others! Grow… just start and grow!”
– Deon Gibson
We hope this blog series inspired you to get gardening. For more tips on gardening, follow:
Have you ever wanted to start a garden but you weren’t sure where to begin?
In this two part blog series, we will be providing tips for the novice gardener for indoor and outdoor gardening.
Why should I start a home garden?
Gardening is…a means to provide food for you and your family.
One passionate gardener, Chinyere Culmer says, “I remind myself often that God tells us that if He would feed the birds and the trees He would more so us (Matt 6:28-32).”
Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?
And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
Matthew 6:26, 30-32 NLT
Chinyere describes her garden as her peace. She says, “It’s a time I not only bask in God’s nature, it’s also a time of prayer and meditation. Gardening has become my stress reliever or better yet, mysanctuary.”
Below are beginner friendly tips for starting an indoor home garden provided by professional farmers and recreational gardeners.
Where Do I Begin?
It is important to assess the room in which you want to grow your plants and determine whether or not you have the space for it.
Avid gardener, Tashae Haughton, said, “When I first started gardening I wanted to plant everything under the sun but I had to realize I never had the space. For those who have limited space, planting in planters and buckets are a holy grail. You have more control of your plant and where to position it to get the recommended 6-8 hours of sun.”
Tashae suggests starting with at least 3-4 different types of vegetables that you know you will be able to take care of. She added: “You will want to start with soil made specifically for seedlings. Never use your garden soil for any seedlings, as it won’t come with the right nutrients. You can purchase a seedling tray or use peat pellets. If you decide to make your own seedling container make sure there are holes at the bottom of the container for drainage. Your new babies will need a lot of sun light, you may use a sunny area in your home or use a grow light, which I use [here in Canada].”
According to the blog site, Back to the Roots, the amount of light that the plant will get and the size the plant will grow are important things to consider for your indoor garden.
Gardener, Jahmai Fisher suggests, “Do your research before going out and buying things! Make sure you have the space, time, and capacity to give plants the necessary conditions they need to thrive.”
Agricultural expert, DeAndra Deveaux said, “You must understand that environmental conditions indoors do not mimic that of outdoor environments, so the progress may be very slow and sometimes stunted. For indoor gardening, patience is key.”
Seeds For Beginners
Vegetables suitable for beginners are tomatoes, okra, kale, cabbage and peppers (Get Busy Gardening).
Some of the supplies you’ll need to begin your indoor, home garden include:
plant stands and
Don’t have the means, ability or desire to purchase planters in-store? Jahmai suggests repurposing items that can be found in your home. She says, “You can use a lot of things you already have laying around the house! Old egg cartons can be used as seedling pots. You also don’t have to go out and buy seeds or soil to get started; you can grow things from kitchen scraps. Put green onions in a container with just enough water to cover the roots, place near a sunny window, and watch them grow!”
How to Turn Egg Cartons into Planters
How to Turn Kitchen Scraps into Plants
DeAndra said, “Always remember that when replanting vegetables from already existing vegetables (e.g. putting your lettuce in water in hopes of getting another head), the end product may not mimic the original and it is mostly only done with leafy greens.”
DeAndra said, “Be sure to always keep your indoor crops in places where they get no less than 4 hours of sun daily.”
Jahmai says, “Believe it or not, which direction your window is facing informs sunlight intensity and duration. From most to least in terms of light intensity, here’s the order: south (most hours of direct sunlight), west (lots of afternoon into evening sun), east (great morning sun) and north (mainly indirect sunlight). While this isn’t meant to limit you, it is something to be mindful of, especially when growing plants with specific light/sun needs.”
Gardening Know How suggests touching the soil to determine whether or not the plant needs more water. If the soil is dry when you touch it, that is a sign that it needs water. Use room temperature water when watering indoor plants.
Tashae recommends that you place your seedling container in no more than an inch of water. She explained, “You don’t want to water from the top as it will cause the dirt to splash on the leaves and cause fungus. Your plant will soak in the water from its roots.”
DeAndra said, “Do not over water your plants if you missed a day of watering. Doubling your water may be detrimental so be sure to stick to a watering schedule. Check on your plants! Check their leaves, stems and fruits to be sure that everything is looking A-okay. Just like humans, if we have a scratch, we tend to that scratch. If we’re dehydrated, it shows through excessive tiredness, etc. Plants will show you signs of needing attention like wilting and yellowing of the leaves.”
Cleaning The Plant’s Leaves
The Spruce states that sunlight can be blocked from penetrating a plant if dust forms on it. Patch Plants suggests cleaning plant’s leaves once a month. Use a cloth or soft brush to clean the leaves to avoid damage.
Transitioning Indoor Seedlings Outdoors
Tashae, who resides in Canada, stated, “Your seedlings will be growing which means they will need to be put into bigger containers. You will want the container to be two times the size of the original. You will still want to use seedling mix soil until your plant is big enough to be transported outside.” Tashae added that she uses a potting mix once she knows her plants are strong enough to be planted outside and they have grown their true set of leaves.
DeAndra cautions that you should be very careful when transplanting seeds that were indoors outdoors as environmental conditions are severely different. She also noted that if you choose to plant outdoors too soon, you run the risk of shocking your plants, eventually leading to death.
She recommends that gardeners familiarize themselves with the process called “hardening.” According to DeAndra, “This simply means that for your seedlings that were grown indoors, you want to place them outside for about 4 hours of sun daily, then bring them back inside. Almost like you’re a weening a child from directly needing nourishment from its mother. Every 2 -3 days, you can increase the number of hours a day that your seedlings receive sunlight. When they’ve managed to handle the exact amount of sunlight as any other plant in your garden is receiving without damage, and their stems are hard enough, you’re ready to transplant them into your soil bed!”
What if I Fail?
Many persons fear failure, and one dying plant can shock a beginners’s confidence to the core! Jahmai cautions beginners to have patience: “Have patience with your plants…and yourself! Gardening is a skill best mastered with time. Even the most seasoned of gardeners still kill a plant or two occasionally. Don’t let one gardening season stop you from trying it again.“
Jahmai’s indoor garden started one month ago. (Yes, one month!) She says, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”
Tashae adds, “Don’t be hard on yourself since this is your first time. I went through a lot of trial and error with a lot of patience. You got this! Happy gardening, beloved!”
With these tips, we hope you’re well on your way to creating the garden of your dreams!