It’s Easier Than You Think
I remember gardening as a child. We had a big backyard filled with everything a kid could love. A swingset we’d play on until dark. A trampoline I spent many glorious hours on throughout the years.
And tucked into the corners were our gardens.
My mom had a green thumb. She’d fill baskets and pots and put them everywhere, front and back.
I was a kid. I pretty much ignored it all.
But I remember heading to the garden and pulling up a fresh carrot. Or picking snap peas off the vine and popping them into my mouth. Mmmm …
As an adult, my green thumb came slowly.
I placed hanging baskets on my porch. Built a rock garden in the backyard.
But veggies? Not so much. We always had good intentions, but never went the extra mile.
That’s changed in recent years.
I think it has something to do with plant-based living. I’m more in touch with food than ever before. And as such, I want to try my hand at gardening too.
The thing is, it’s really not that difficult. What it takes is time, commitment, and just a little planning.
I’ve learned a lot these past few years. And I thought I would share a few of the things I’ve picked up about better eating to help you too.
A few years ago, I started spending a lot of time at farmer’s markets. I have one nearby from May through October, and I LOVE the fruits and veggies I can buy. Why? Because they taste better.
I’m often surprised at the difference in taste. Compare something locally grown with that you’ll purchase in a store. It has flavor. If you’ve ever complained that produce has no flavor, I challenge you to find a farmer’s market and make friends with a local farmer.
It’s the shipping process that gets rid of the flavor. They pick it so early, it doesn’t have time to ripen on the vine. And without that process, produce can be bland at best.
After several years of eating exclusively from farmer’s markets in the summer, I wondered aloud if I could grow my food. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Start simple. Talk with people at your local garden center. Choose things that work well for your living situation.
Herb gardens are awesome because you can grow them in your kitchen window. And there’s nothing quite like being able to clip rosemary, sage, or thyme fresh and adding it to your cooking.
Plant what you use
We went to our local garden center, and bought a variety of plants they had available. They were out of zucchini plants, and had lots of crookneck squash instead. So in went the crookneck squash plants – and dozens of squash started growing everywhere.
I love zucchini. Crookneck squash? Not so much.
It’s okay … But when you have them by the dozens sitting on your counter, you start wondering what you’re going to do with them all. My neighbors love me. ?
Don’t buy based on what’s available. Sit down and plan out what works best for you. Do you eat it regularly? Is it something you’ll enjoy?
That’s the only reason you should grow anything in your garden. (It makes the process more fun!)
Seeds or plants – what’s the difference?
I was browsing a rack of seeds, selecting things that looked good. Radishes, carrots, pumpkins, and broccoli.
A scored a line in the dirt, sprinkled seeds and covered them with soil. And waited.
Nothing came up in one section. In others, I had dozens on top of each other.
I always had better luck with plants. I guess it’s because I can see them, touch them, dig a hole, and plant them. They aren’t as fragile. It makes more sense.
This year, I took a seed class – and oh, what a difference. I actually learned a lot about what I’d been doing wrong.
So I have a new approach this year. I’m starting my tender little seeds indoors. Just one or two seeds per space, with just the right amount of nutrients to thrive.
It’s a work in progress. But I’ve learned, if you have a desire, do a little research. Learn something – it can change everything about your approach.
Classes are always your friend
I have two resources for you. The first is your local parks and rec. They start offering gardening classes as early as February in anticipation of the coming growing season.
This year they had classes on planning your garden space, starting from seed, and working with mason bees. And I’ve been impressed with the lessons I’ve attended.
If your local parks and rec doesn’t have courses, head into your local garden center or nursery. The ones around me also offer a variety of courses.
You can also find them online. I found Floret Farms a couple of years ago, and fell in love with her books. I signed up for her newsletter, and have fallen in love with her courses. She’s currently running a seed-starting class for free – I’m following her advice with some of her flower seeds. (I’ll keep you updated on how well I do at growing them.)
Say YES to community gardens
Community gardens are popping up everywhere. If you don’t have one near you, start your own.
The concept is simple – a plot of land where a bunch of people are given small plots of land to grow fruits, vegetables, and flowers. They usually have community guidelines for what you can and can’t plant. No invasive plants, please.
But from there, it’s up to you.
The first year, I had a goal: grow one edible thing.
The very first radish we picked and ate, I felt like we were uber successful!
Of course, we got a ton more than one. But we made a lot of mistakes in what and how we planted. Something we took to heart with year two.
With a community garden, you can wander around and see what everyone else is doing. Talk with your neighbor and follow their advice. Our neighbors have been there for almost twenty years! You bet I listen to what they say grows best.
I can’t express how much fun we’ve had by being a part of this community. If you have any interest, jump in! You’ll learn a ton and have fun too.
Flowers are edible too
I found a book on a shelf. I was intrigued.
I live in a townhome with only a front porch and a small back patio. Not much room for a garden.
But every year, I fill baskets and pots up with tons of flowers. Why not grow edibles too?
So I planted a variety of edibles based on the planters in this book.
Did I have success? Somewhat. But once again, I learned a ton. (I’ll be back at it this year.)
The key is to plant what works for your surroundings and lifestyle. Pay attention to sun and shade plants – you get what you put into them.
What was magical was picking flowers and popping them into my food.
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