Want To ‘Go Green’? Why Not Start With A Garden?

There is so much talk, and let’s be honest, controversy around the topic of going green.  As a society it can seem daunting, but as an individual or a familia, there is a lot we can do. One of the simpler ways to start ‘greening’ you vida this season is to plant a garden.  

That’s right. Raising frutas y verduras in your own backyard or, for city dwellers, in containers on your own balcony or window sills, brings a bounty of benefits and helps the environment. Most obviously, it’s a wonderful source of fresh, delicious, wholesome food. But beyond that, gardening is also great exercise. It’s relaxing, spiritually rewarding, and deeply satisfying.  And according to author Ellen LaConte, it’s a life skill we should all cultivate and pass on to our niños.

The great news is that gardening is downright easy—even if you’ve never grown anything except mold on your store-bought cheese! Here, Ellen offers some tips sure to inspire even the most tentative “veggie virgins” to dig right in!

Don’t Assume Lack Of Space Is A Deal-Breaker

Most of us don’t live on farms. Nor do we have spacious, magazine-worthy backyards. And in the case of city-dwellers, we may not have backyards of any type! That’s okay, says LaConte, who is something of an outside-the-box thinker when it comes to gardening in smaller or unconventional settings.

In general, LaConte recommends that neighborhood gardening novices start with one of two easy options: the container garden or the raised-bed garden. While a quick Internet search will unearth a plethora of advice, instructions, and details about each, here are some tips to get you started.

Make It A Group Effort

Nobody ever said that gardening had to be a solitary activity! It can be a great bonding experience for families, too—working outside is much healthier than playing a video game or watching TV, and your kids will learn quite a bit in the process.

Make Your Bed…Raised!

A raised-bed garden is one that is built on top of your native soil—in other words, you don’t have to dig into your yard and can build it wherever you want. It can be enclosed by lumber, stone, brick, concrete, or even hay bales, and is filled with whatever type of soil you choose. Advantages include (but are certainly not limited to): improved accessibility (you don’t need to stoop as far to reach your plants), good drainage, fewer weeds, the ability to plant more densely, and improved soil quality. Also, raised-bed gardens heat up more quickly than the native soil, so you’ll be able to plant sooner and you’ll probably enjoy a higher produce yield.

Contain Yourself!

Did you know that almost any vegetable, and quite a few fruits (such as berries, limes, and melons), can be adapted to growing in a pot? It’s true! So even if you’ve got no yard at all, you can still cultivate a container garden on your balcony, patio, or windowsill. As with a raised-bed garden, container gardens are very accessible and offer you total control over soil quality. Keep in mind a few simple guidelines such as making sure that larger plants are in larger containers and that all have adequate drainage holes, and you’re good to garden!

Start Small

If you bite off more produce than you can chew, you may become overwhelmed and leave your garden to the not-so-tender mercies of nature. If you’re a newbie, choose just a few easy-to-cultivate vegetables, fruits, and herbs, preferably ones that already feature prominently in your diet. You can let yourself gradually catch the gardening bug from there!

Don’t Panic: You’ll Find The Time

Prospective gardeners may be excited by the idea of growing their own fruits and vegetables but daunted by the scope of the project ahead of them. If you’re wondering where you’re going to find the time to cultivate and harvest plants, take a deep breath. After the initial effort of planting and potting is over, your daily garden chores such as watering and weeding will usually be done in 15 to 30 minutes. And when you consider how much time most of us waste in front of the computer or TV, well…the task ahead of you might not be so difficult to fit in after all. And it’ll certainly be more nourishing!

“Grow” Easy On Yourself

The fact is, some types of produce are much hardier and easier to grow than others. Why make your first foray into gardening more difficult than it needs to be by trying to raise plants that are needy? Start with tried-and-true plants like basil, rosemary, blueberries, tomatoes, lettuce, and peppers, for example.

It’s As Easy As One, Two, TREE.

When most people think “gardening,” trees don’t necessarily spring to mind. While it’s true that trees can take longer than tomato plants or berry bushes to yield fruit, the wait is usually well worth it. Consider planting cherry, apple, peach, etc. saplings in your yard. As they grow, these trees will be both beautiful and practical. And the yardless needn’t be left out—remember that fruits such as peaches, plums, figs, lemons, limes, etc. (often available in dwarf varieties) can be grown in pots.

Farm Alongside Your Flowers

Many people whose patios or yards are livened up by colorful flowers have never given a second thought to raising produce. If you’re one of them, consider this: You already have the knowledge and skills to care for plants. So why not plant some tomatoes or cilantro along with those zinnias and pansies?

Make Friends At A Farmer’s Market

Chances are, there’s one near you…and who better to ask for tips and tricks than your fellow citizens who have already learned to garden successfully? This is also a good venue at which to learn about community gardens and group efforts.

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  1. Rachel
    Jun 13, 2012 - 08:58 AM

    Love the ideas here! They are practical, doable, green, and best of all healthy!!! Children who help in the garden are more likely to eat vegetables because they helped to grow them and feel involved.


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