Supplement your dinner or top your table with something you’ve grown yourself.
Want a hobby with multiple health benefits? Try gardening! Shown to offer physical and mental health benefits and improve your diet (hello there fresh herbs and veggies!) gardening is a great way to keep active.
Don’t let a lack of ample outdoor space sway you from starting! You can enjoy a thriving garden with something as small as a windowsill. For small patios, try an herb wall. Or if space isn’t an issue, a full kitchen garden might be calling your name. No matter what, you can start somewhere.
Know Your Why
First things first, think about your reasons for wanting a garden and then pair them with available resources. All gardens require time, water, adequate space, sunshine, fertilizer, and someone tending to it. Do you want a garden so you can pick lettuce for your salads right outside your doorstep or is it to snip fresh herbs for your dinners? Do you want to grow a lot or just a little? Is it for consumption or decoration?
“I always recommend beginning gardeners start small and grow from there,” says Denver-based Jodi Torpey, master gardener, writer and author of The Colorado Gardener’s Companion and the award-winning Blue Ribbon Vegetable Gardening. “Plan the garden to include the plants that will bring the most joy, whether that’s herbs, flowers, fruits, or vegetables. Keep in mind the master gar-dener mantra to ‘put the right plant in the right place’ to give the garden the best conditions for suc-cess.”
“Easy” plants are a great way to get started. If patience is on your side, start your plants from seeds. There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing a tiny stem sprout up and knowing you helped make that happen.
Containers are Your Friends
Torpey has a small garden bed where she grows heirloom tomatoes but prefers to grow a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers in containers on her sunny patio.
“Over the years I’ve discovered it’s possible to grow just about anything in containers,” says Torpey. Here are her top three tips for taking on containers:
- Match the size of the container to the size of the mature plan
- Use a good quality potting soil meant for container gardening
- Be sure to give the plants the right amount of sunshine and water
“Most of the problems with gardening start at the beginning — with the soil. A rich, loamy soil, amended with organic matter, will give plants a good start,” says Torpey. “The second problem is usually overwatering, so water only when the top few inches of soil are dry.”
Remember flowers and plants might not be the only thing that grows from cultivating a garden. You might also learn some life lessons while you’re digging in the dirt.
“I like gardening because of the lessons it teaches me: patience, attention to detail, and how to appreciate the natural world filled with critters of all kinds,” says Torpey. “I think gardening is a meditation because the simple act of placing a plant or seed in the soil relaxes the mind by focusing on the task at hand.”