Updated: Dec 4, 2022
We asked Karen about her gardening experience and journey, as well as how she discovered Aeroponic gardening. This is what Karen had to say...
Tell us a little about yourself?
I live on the homestead that has been in my family for over 100 years. Our home is 192 acres in the Southeast corner of the state of Kansas in the United States. My husband and I have 4 children, 1 dog, 3 barn cats, and currently rent our pasture area for cattle to a local rancher. I have a love for the business of all things fruits and vegetables. My goal is to add value to my followers whether it’s about growing their own produce or finding simple solutions to nutrition for their families.
What was your introduction into gardening?
I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t helping in the garden. My kids are the 4th generation on this homestead. My ancestors lived off the land. They canned and preserved their produce for winter and sold the surplus for money. They passed down their heritage that I now use and am teaching my children. I helped plant, pull weeds, and harvest crops from the time I was old enough to know the difference between a vegetable and a weed. Our dirt garden space is over an acre in size, and 7 years ago I added Aeroponic gardening to the mix, so we can grow indoors year round.
Who’s your gardening inspiration and why?
My greatest inspiration for all things growing is my father. I’m pretty sure there isn’t anything he can’t grow or garden challenge he couldn’t overcome. And now, I hope to share my appreciation and knowledge for nutrition, growing, harvesting, and preserving with others looking to learn or expand what they know.
What do you enjoy about gardening?
I absolutely love sharing my passion with other growers. My personal favourite part of gardening is always planting season. I find the fresh air and my hands in the soil to be therapeutic. There is just something about planting a seed in the ground with the hope and expectation of life to come.
My least favourite part is hoeing weeds in the heat of the summer when it’s over 35C. That is one of the reasons why we are moving into Aeroponic gardening. The system we use is vertical so it only takes up 3 feet in space and it is DIRTLESS. No hoeing!
Tell us about your gardening experiences?
All gardeners have success or challenges based on the weather. We increase our opportunity for a successful season by using cow manure and fruit/vegetable scraps worked in, to provide added nutrients for the soil. We are very diligent about keeping weeds out of the garden, so that the produce isn’t fighting and choked out.
When the crops are abundant, we sell even more produce at the local Farmers Market stands and have plenty reserved for our family in the winter.
Insects can be a challenge for us. Especially squash bugs and tomato worms. We are constantly on the lookout for these pests. Growing inside with my growing system eliminates the weather and outdoor insect challenges.
We are always open to new practices and ways of doing things to work smarter and not harder. This year we are attempting to plant some of our white potatoes in a wire filled with hay, dirt, cow manure, and seed potatoes. Setting up the potato cage ended up being more challenging then the YouTube video showed. LOL. However, we don’t give up and are pushing through to continue the experiment.
I am eager to learn from others as well and hope readers will find me on Instagram or Facebook so we can share ideas.
How did you discover Aeroponics?
Ten years ago I was on a journey to help my family eat more fruits and vegetables. My kids were in a picky eater stage and I knew that produce was what our bodies needed for best health. I began to learn as much as I could about fruit and vegetable nutrition and the biology of how produce improved every cell in our bodies. It was at that time, we began eating powdered produce in capsules and chewables in order to have the nutrition from 30 different fruits and veg in our diets daily. This company aligned very much with my values and what I wanted for my family. I bought into the business to partner with the company. A couple years later, we launched the aeroponic growing system kit, allowing the average person to be able to grow their own produce whether they live in an apartment in the city or on the farm like we do. I can even offer this environmentally friendly kit to your customers in the United Kingdom.
What are the benefits of Aeroponics?
My aeroponic system only uses 10% of the water and 10% of the space that a traditional garden uses. With the LED grow lights, I am able to have the pump and lights on a timer that all comes with the kit. This allows me to grow fresh produce year round right in my garage or house. As most gardeners know, fresh not only tastes best, but growing your own saves cash at the grocery store. We have saved a lot of money on produce over the last 7 years. We never have lettuce rot in our refrigerator before using it. When we want salads, we walk over and harvest it right there off the tower. I have also helped place 11 different garden towers in schools. It has been such a joy to see how excited children get watching the produce they planted right in their classrooms. And kids who grow their own fruits and vegetables are much more likely to eat a bigger variety of produce.
What impact or benefits do you think gardening has had on your life?
As you might expect, our family eats more produce, and it’s a tranquil place for me. On a higher more impactful level though, I definitely have a deep gratitude for our land and renewed appreciation each spring for life, growth, and the Creator of all living things. We work the garden with my parents and the benefits of multi-generational care that my children experience is priceless. I teach my children hard work, patience, harvest reward, and life skills through our garden and farm.
How do you try to manage the impact your gardening has on the environment?
We use compost in our dirt garden, test the soil and add needed nutrients when we find deficiencies. We utilize crop rotation each year so the soil doesn’t become depleted. We try to stay bee friendly with all our gardening practices, knowing the important need for bees. We also have a well to draw our water from and I collect rain water to use in the reservoir of my tower.
What are your future plans for your garden?
The dirt and aeroponic gardens, currently grow radishes, onions, lettuce, spinach, kale, asparagus, swiss chard, basil, cilantro, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, beets, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, zucchini, cantaloupe, tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, cucumbers, okra, we also have apple, pear, and peach trees in the orchard.
Our future plans are to grow our capacity to share whole food fruit and vegtable powders that makes nutrition so much simpler for families. We plan to add even more easy to use aeroponic gardens, in order to grow strawberries in a more controlled environment. Also, with the indoor towers we could quickly raise and sell organic Bibb Lettuce heads to the local grocery store. And we have recently learned about growing loofah’s and received seeds. We think it will be a fun addition our garden.
Thank you so much for sharing our gardening journey! For readers to receive our fun and passionate knowledge of fruits and veg, growing tips, ideas, and mishaps, they can find me on Instagram at @homegrownkaren or on Facebook at Karen Carstedt Meseraull