Growing green: A beginner’s lesson on growing your own garden
Growing green: A beginner’s lesson on growing your own garden
Starting a garden can be intimidating. You probably have a ton of questions, but when you hit “Search” on Google – you feel more overwhelmed than you when you started. Questions like:
How to get started growing?
How to grow hydroponically or organically?
Can I afford to grow my own garden?
And maybe you’re asking – what all can I grow myself??
Stop wondering and start learning today with experts Heather and Thomas King – co-owners of Como Grow Supply in Columbia, Missouri. This dynamic duo has been in the growing business collectively for 15 years – helping to educate clients like you on how to become self-sufficient when successfully growing your own bountiful garden. For whatever stage of growing you’re in, Heather and Tom will give you the confidence and tools to take the next step in and say heck yes I can do this!
They focus on making sure you have what you need to grow your best garden, which isn’t limited to supplies – it also means education and accessibility for all. From microgreens to cannabis – Como Grow Supply has everything you need to help you grow your own way.
In this episode, we discuss how to start growing your garden, hydroponics, and how growing plants can empower and benefit you. And, Heather and Tom share the most common misconceptions and mistakes from growers, as well as their pro tips on growing!
Get to know Heather and Thomas King
Heather Yu-King and Thomas King have both spent their careers educating themselves and others on growing – as professional growers, caregivers, and consultants. Heather had a realization from growing cannabis, “I started to realize how important it was to grow my own food in general” She also realized how most people didn’t know how to grow for themselves, which has become a focus at Como Grow Supply. The couple met in Colorado, but coming from the midwest they knew they wanted to come back and share what they had learned over the years.
“A lot of what we do here at Como Grow Supply is getting people to understand how easy it is to grow your own food and your own medicine. It’s very cheap. It’s very easy to do – it’s just a matter of knowing exactly what to get.” And you guessed it, they help with that!
Como Grow Supply is a supply store for hydroponics and all other growing mediums with a focus on educating their clients. (Hydroponics is a soilless growing medium, using nutrient-rich water to grow plants). For those seeking more in-depth information, they founded the Missouri School of Cannabis where you can take classes to learn more about growing cannabis for yourself.
And to extend the education arm of their business even further, they created King Consulting. A residential and commercial consulting company. But as Tom says, they’re all are one Como Grow Family!
“When you’re starting out, you don’t have anything – and we get that. From the beginning, we’ve made it a mission to help as many people as possible… It’s really important for us to make it accessible. That’s a huge cornerstone of our business structure – is accessibility for everybody.” Como Grow sets aside part of their profits to help subsidize growing for those who can’t afford it – like the disabled, veterans, and otherwise. They also have sliding scales for pricing so that they make sure they can meet your needs where you are.
What can you grow?
Everything! You can grow your own medicine and all of your food hydroponically or otherwise. Second to cannabis, the most common thing Como Grow helps people to grow is microgreens. They specialize in hydroponics, but also help with indoor/outdoor gardening, and organic gardening. “Regardless of what crop you’re growing, regardless of the time of year, regardless of your budget – we have something for everybody”
Since they have a team of consultants, if they don’t know how to help you – they know someone who does. Any crop you name, they can help you grow it.
But I’m bad at growing – what do I do?
Should you start with soil or hydroponics? Heather says hydroponics is probably the way to go! “The beautiful thing about growing is that it’s cheap to start. If you mess something up, that’s ok! You can use those items you purchased and start again.” You don’t need to start with all of the pumps, emitters, plumbing, timers – aka all of the things that usually scare people off from hydroponics! Heather says that plain coco coir mixed with perlite is hydroponics.
She suggests hydroponics for beginners because there is more control. “You tell the plant what to eat and when to eat it.” It is a forgiving process. If there is an issue you figure out the issue, wash out the water, and start again. With soil, you can’t flush it out and you won’t know exactly what the plant doesn’t like. But if you are more familiar with soil, they can help you to hone your skills there too. “I think there’s value in all different types of growing”
Learning the basics
They help you to take it back to the basics so you can do your own garden troubleshooting. In Tom’s opinion, “If our customers are not successful, we’re not successful.”
They have in-house recipes and formulas that they have cultivated throughout their years, and they help you to apply those techniques. Essentially giving first-time growers the tools on how to become a pro. They offer expandable starter kits that will grow with your growing needs.
They say to grow – all you need is to get seeds, have an enclosed area (even a closet will work!), and the diligence to grow. Even if you think you don’t have a green thumb, the skills to grow can all be taught – you just have to want to do it!
Como Grow Supply is obviously laser-focused on education, which includes education on what to do with your supplies after you’re done with them. Supplies like pesticides and perlite can be harmful to the environment, so they want to make sure if you’re using them you know how to properly dispose of them.
Another focus of theirs is on the self-sufficient growing of your groceries and cannabis. “One of the things that our company is really big on, one of the things that we help a lot of our clients and patients do is try to move away from traditional sources of agriculture and medicine which are not often the most sustainable practices… We help to train a lot of our patients and clients on self-reliance.” But self-reliance doesn’t mean only relying on yourself. You still need to get knowledge from others, which is where Como Grow Supply comes in.
They break down what’s in the products you’re buying so you’re in control. Their recommendation is to go organic when you can, so you know you’re getting something that is good for you and the environment. Empower is a word used a lot with this duo. They want to empower you to know exactly what goes into your food and feel the reward of doing something good for yourself. “Your first harvest is so rewarding, even your second, third, fourth – even your last harvest is rewarding too. You have the pride knowing you’ve done it yourself too.”
All of the organics used for hydroponics aren’t technically “organic” because they are not soil-based. When you’re looking at growing supplies, OMRI listing certification usually shows what’s pure organic, but it’s tricky. Organic end products are based on the source material (where the nutrients are coming from). All of the ingredients have to be organic for the end product to be organic.
Nutrients that are derived in a lab, but that come from organic materials, are organic, but not certified as so. There are also companies that do have organic products but don’t want to go through the hoops and cost to become organically certified.
Most common growing mistakes
One of the most common mistakes is trying to add nutrients – especially nitrogen. Before adding nutrients, look at the environment. Is it PH balanced? What’s the temperature at? What’s the humidity at? They suggest you look at those factors first if they’re not addressed, your plants might not even be able to accept the nutrients you add. All of the factors play together.
The second common mistake is nutrient deficiencies usually due to the PH. Neutral is at 7.0, but cannabis and food like to be around a PH of 6.0. If you get lower, you’re acidic, and if you get up towards neutral it’s too basic.
The third common mistake is the light and the light intensity. Everything else in your garden can be perfect, but if it doesn’t have the right light, it can’t metabolize the rest of what you’re doing to help it.
They suggest growing for the plant that you’re growing. Meaning you shouldn’t feed lettuce the same as a tomato. They need different nutrients at different parts of their lives.
If you’re beginning, “Think about what are you growing and why are you growing it. That’s a lot of what goes into successfully and seriously growing a garden.”
Pro Tips for Growing Green
Keep everything clean! Dirty spaces can make bugs and a lot of problems – even if you’re growing outside. Try not to leave a bunch of stuff out or around for critters to make a home. Make sure you’re cleaning your clothes and washing your hands – especially if you’re working on sick or damaged plants. Wear a new change of clothes when you’re working with your plants.
The second pro tip is to use compost tea! There isn’t a fix-all plant solution, but this comes close! Compost tea is a mixture of nutrients and oxygen-loving bacteria, fungi, and microbes that live in finished compost. Heather and Tom say, the stinkier the better!
Education is the key. Focus on education before you spend a bunch of time and money. Learning from reputable sources and other people who have been successful.
At Como Grow Supply, their place is to empower you. “We see that everyone’s got their own method. There’s a thousand ways to trim a plant. We always just try to help people do it their own way.”
Contact Como Grow Supply for more information, classes, consulting, or supplies.
Facebook: Como Grow Supply
Instagram: Como Grow Supply
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