Jenae Ryan, Horticulture Agent
As we prepare for the New Year, many people are planning their New Year’s Resolution(s). Many of those resolutions usually focus on improving our health and well-being. One of the ways to accomplish this is by eating healthier by including more fruits and vegetables in our diet. Unfortunately, many New Year’s resolutions are broken or forgotten within the first couple months of the year. How about setting a goal or resolution you can look forward to and benefit from for many months?
If you or your children are trying to eat healthier, one of the best motivators can be to grow your own food. Selecting which crops to grow, tending them throughout the year, and reaping the fruits of their labor can encourage children (and adults!) to be more willing to try new produce. Have you considered planting a garden? If you already have a garden, would you try new types of fruit or vegetables if you could get your family to eat them?
Winter is actually a great time to start planning your garden. If you have not had a garden before, use this time to identify an area around your home you could till up to create a garden space. Mark the area and plan out your garden. Depending on which types of vegetables you want to grow, the row spacings can be different. Draw out a map for your planned crops. Keep this in your records for future years to help plan with crop rotation. You can start searching for places to buy seed or transplants, whether it’s your local garden center or a seed catalog.
If you cannot dig up your own lawn, see if there is a community garden close to you. Community gardens have several small plots where community members can have space plant a garden and enjoy the benefits of each other’s company and gardening expertise.
You could also consider container gardening if you do not have lawn space for a garden or live in a rental home. You can purchase planting pots or you can recycle items (like buckets or empty cattle mineral tubs) to use for planting. Just be sure that the containers have drainage holes for excess water to run out, or you are able to drill holes if needed. While not all crops will grow well in containers, most vegetables have a few varieties that have been bred specifically to thrive in a container. Herbs are also easy to grow in containers, and many can be grown indoors on a windowsill or well-lit room. You are not limited to flowers when it comes to containers!
Please contact me or visit your local Post Rock District Extension office for more information on planning a garden and selecting vegetable varieties for our area. I wish you all a Happy New Year and good luck with your future garden!