Saturday, May 25, 2013

Gardening Fun Around the Corner

Memorial Day weekend is here and for many that means planting season has begun! It looks like its going to be a very wet weekend here in Vermont, so I won’t be planting my vegetable garden yet, but hopefully this rain will pass and I can plant later this week! 

A few years ago Steve (my boyfriend) and I had our first garden. It was lots of fun watching everything grow and we had plenty of fresh vegetables throughout the summer. He picked on me about having a “black thumb” but between the two of us, we did it!

Growing vegetables may be easier than you think. Last year we didn’t any green space to plant vegetables and didn’t take advantage of growing in containers on the deck. I was bummed all summer long (especially in August when I would have had a bounty of summer squash and zucchini). This year I was determined to plan ahead. It was easier than I thought… I decided to buy a plot in the community garden at my job (Porter Hospital).

Community Gardens Rock!
For beginners, a community garden is a great place to start. Most till the land, provide good soil, water, and even tools for planting and harvesting. It can also be a great way to make some new friends and learn more about gardening. I know I picked up a lot of tips from our “neighbors”. You may even be able to swap produce mid-season or have them water your garden if you go away on vacation.

Why grow a garden?
  • Fresh vegetables taste better! The flavor and texture of home-grown vegetables trump the far-travelling convenience produce that you find in the grocery store.
  • It’s better for the environment and reduces your carbon footprint! Food comes from your backyard and is not shipped thousands of miles before it gets to your door.
  • You know what is in your food! You can control what herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizer is on your food and can be sure that no GMOs have been used.
  • It can help you save money! Planting your own vegetable garden is often cheaper than purchasing produce from the grocery store or farmer’s market.
  • It is a great way to de-stress, get some sun, and enjoy the outdoors.
  • It can be great exercise! You may burn 250-500 calories an hour based on your weight and how strenuous the activity is.

My biggest dilemma was deciding what to grow this year. My growing space is limited (3x 24 feet) and so is the time that I have to give tending the garden. This means I have to start small and select the vegetables I know that we will enjoy most. On my list to plant: lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, summer squash, zucchini, kale, carrots, beets and a variety of herbs. I will purchase some of these as starter seedlings from local farmstands and farmers markets and the rest I will plant from seed. Use the information on the seed packet for growing, planting, and watering directions!

Things to think about
  • Vegetables need adequate sunlight (many 6-8 hours per day)
  • Vegetables need healthy soil. You can plant in raised beds or containers if the soil is too difficult to work with. Consider enriching with compost or an organic fertilizer for better growing conditions.
  • Vegetables need adequate water. If there isn’t adequate rainfall you will need to water your plants regularly. Keep in mind that many plants need additional water in critical stages of development!
  • Once you have planted, you have to commit time to weeding, watering your plants, and taking care of any insect pests.

I know it sounds like a lot of work, but once you plan it into your schedule it will become just a part of your every day life. When you slice into that fresh tomato in mid-summer, you know it will be worth it.

What are you planting in your garden this year?

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