How to go green, in a dorm, on a budget

Example of plant set-up in a dorm.

Spring is hopefully on its way any day now. Winter is well known for bringing on the blues for just about anybody and many Minnesotans are more than ready for warmer weather and brighter skies. As the weather warmed up in the middle of February, we all enjoyed it thoroughly, however, for most, it’s fair to say there was a bit of concern as climate change showed itself during those warm days. Helping the environment and going the route of eco-friendly is never a bad choice. While it may not be the most convenient to have a compost bin in your dorm room there are tons of other ways you can help the environment, your budget, and your overall health.

It turns out just the presence of plants helps with stress and boost pain tolerance. For you biophilics (someone who loves plants) it gives off the same lovely feeling of being outdoors.

Organic Air Fresheners:

Lemon, Rosemary

What you need:

-Mason Jar

-Lemon

-Rosemary

Cut the lemon into 4 or so slices and combine all in a mason jar with water.

Air Freshener with lemon, mint and rosemary.

Lilac:

What you need:

-Mason Jar

-Lilac oil

-vodka

-Water

Combine all!

To save money (and the planet!) don’t throw out the empty cartridges of plug-in air fresheners. Instead, refill them with water and essential oils.

Buying plants can make a bit of a dent in your wallet (I ended up spending $30.00 on 4 plants the other day). There are plants that you can just take a clipping and regrow in soil or water. So if you are house sitting, walking your dog or see a plant in the store that you like, grab a small clipping and you got yourself a free plant. Granted, some stores may see that as stealing so proceed with caution.

Lavender is a great plant to have in your dorm, especially since St.Catherine prohibits the use of candles, it works as a natural air freshener. It’s a bit tricky and each type of lavender grows a bit differently but do your research and you’ll be good as gold. You can take a clipping of lavender and place it in compost or rich soil and it’ll start to grow roots.

Find other plants that grow from clippings here!

Produce is also an exciting, cost effective thing to grow indoors. Easy, indoor fruit bearing plants include garlic, spinach, lettuce, rolande bush beans, cucumber and zucchini squash.

Garlic:

Use a piece of organic garlic as most grocery store garlic comes coated in a chemical that prevents budding to prolong shelf-life. Separate the cloves of garlic and plant them vertically in soil.

Spinach:

Plant the seeds in a pot about half an inch down. You should start to see sprouts in about a week or 2. Spinach needs soil that can breathe. Water when you feel it is needed, soil is dry and avoid letting water pool (this causes root rot) and avoid getting the leaves wet.

Lettuce:

Using a head of lettuce, chop off the part you want to eat, enjoy your salad and, before you throw away the base, place it in a shallow amount of water and watch the leaves regrow from the center. Turns out you can also do this with green onions, garlic chives, and celery.

The start of regrowing lettuce.

Ginger:

Leave a piece of ginger out, as soon as buds begin to appear, plant the whole piece of ginger in healthy soil with the bud facing up and watch it grow!

The others mentioned above (rolande bush beans, cucumber, zucchini squash) grow in soil using seeds. Don’t forget to do your research with each. As a student, you are too busy to experiment, many others have done this process for you. On the topic of easy care did you know you can set up a self-watering plant using only a glass bottle. Simply fill it with water and place it nozzle down in the soil. It will keep the plant watered as it needs.

Watercress

Parsley

Do you have little to no room in your dorm? There are vertical gardens as well! You can also use a hanging shoe holder as a hanging garden.

One last popular dorm accessory: SUCCULENTS

“I think aloe plants specifically are good for producing clean air, as well as spider plants. Tips for people who want to grow: DO NOT OVERWATER! When in doubt, do not water succulents since they are desert plants and thrive in dry conditions with occasional water. With succulents, you water them every couple weeks or so by thoroughly watering them and then allowing the soil to dry out completely,” said Kahley Steinmetz, Public Health & International Development, ‘20.

Steinmetz has an adorable set up of a variety of succulents in her dorm room.

Steinmez

Steinmetz’s sweet succulent set up.

“If anyone is curious about succulents you can [contact] me, and I can help them out or point them to some good resources,” said Steinmetz.

Healthy eating has an enormous impact on the health of a person. It gives you more energy, keeps your body fit, and makes you feel better overall. Growing your own produce not only supplies you with cheap healthy food, it also comes with the enjoyment of eating something you have grown yourself. Not to mention the mental advantages of plants indoors especially in a grungy dorm room.

The Wheel would love some more ideas to share for indoor gardening, do not hesitate to comment with photos of your own garden or DIY’s you know of!

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