Health: Reaping the Benefits Out of Starting Your Own Garden

By Megan O'Connell, Student at University of Wisconsin – Platteville

Spring is blissfully around the corner. If you live somewhere with freezing winters like me, you’re probably anxiously awaiting that much-needed sunshine. Nothing says summer break is around the corner like flowers peaking up through the grass on your walk to campus.

Another perk to spring being right around the corner is that it’s almost time to start preparing your garden. Even if you’re interning this summer or taking summer classes, maintaining a garden is simple and you’ll definitely reap the benefits in your checking account and your healthy lifestyle — just plant accordingly to your diet. You don’t need a huge garden; just plant the things you generally eat. Love salads? Plant some lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. Love baking? Plant some herbs.

Live in a dorm room or apartment? Don’t let that hold you back, as you still have several options. You can see if your town has garden plots to rent out, grow a garden on your front porch or even inside your apartment. Let’s find out how.

Renting out garden plots:
Bigger cities are catching on to the community garden trend. What is a community garden? It’s a large plot of land used for people with no yards to plant a garden. Do some research and find out if your city has one. Another plus side to a community garden is that there’s experienced gardeners who can help you every step of the way. Visit this website to find a community garden near you.

Garden on your front porch:
Don’t feel like venturing too far from home to tend to your garden? No big deal. This idea was inspired by one of my closest friends. Last summer, she grew banana peppers, green peppers and tomatoes right on the front porch of her apartment. How did she do this? First, at the beginning of summer, she visited the local farmers market and purchased plants that were already growing. Next, she transplanted them to three medium-sized ceramic planting pots. You can also start your own plants from seedlings. Check out Sprout Robot and type in your zip code to see when you should start planting seedlings.

Planting a garden inside your apartment:
Planting a garden in your apartment requires a bit more work than planting one outside, so make sure you are adequately prepared. First, prepare a spot where you have a bit of space. Make sure the chosen area is well lit. Next, purchase pots. Medium-sized pots will work for most vegetables. If you’re growing plants that have a lot of vines, such as cucumbers or squash, use a hanging planter so the vines have room to grow.

Caring for any type of garden:
Indoors, outdoors or on your front porch, all gardens can be taken care of in the same manner. To take care of your garden throughout the season, water your garden once a day. The amount of water your plants need depends on the size of your garden. My theory is to water them until they look like they’re not thirsty anymore. If you’re planting a garden in your apartment or on the front porch, you probably won’t have too much weeding to do. If you plan on using a community garden, however, you’ll want to visit your garden at least once a week to get rid of any weeds. Finally, reap the benefits. Be patient with your garden. Once the first vegetables or herbs start growing, it will definitely be worth the wait.

Image: winnond /

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