Key to starting a successful garden is a plan
At this juncture in the year, we resolve to make changes. Gym parking lots go from ghostly unoccupied in December to double-parked mania overnight, weight loss commercials abound, and your close friend who invited you to the cookie exchange three weeks ago is now preaching her new calorie-cutting lifestyle.
It seems funny how much weight we give resolutions for the new year — but we all, myself included, do it. And surprisingly your garden can play a huge role in aiding the implementation of these changes for 2012. Whether you have resolved to lose weight, eat healthier, save money, become more active, live greener, or even become closer with friends a garden can be the key. Even though it is the beginning of winter, having a plan makes everything easier. Some options, however, are available right now like growing microgreens on a windowsill to make an easy, fresh, and very nutritious salad. Susan Liechty, another Master Gardner and frequent Gazette contributor recently wrote an article all about the propagation of microgreens. it can be easily looked up on the Delaware Gazette’s website.
As I often stress, the key to a successful garden is simple—a plan. Start thinking about which vegetables you purchase most often, which you avoid purchasing due to price, and which vegetables would you enjoy that may not be available.
There are approximately four months until planting is safe in our zone so there is plenty of time to track down all your favorites. Also an advantage of planning at this time of year, when there is snow-cover you can plan your garden beds by spraying their outlines with spray paint right on top of the snow. This allows you to walk around them and feel if your proportions will work. An advantage no drawing can offer. If ’green’ is an initiative for you in 2012, growing organic herbs and vegetables is a very easy way to make an environmental difference. It may seem hard to believe, but even just growing your own tomatoes over the summer has a positive environmental impact. Any living plant goes through photosynthesis, of which oxygen is the end result. Despite how miniscule the difference may be from a few tomato plants here and there it is a difference regardless and you should feel good about it. Another resolution addressed by a vegetable garden is fitness. Digging, lifting, kneeling,—all the relatively mundane tasks of gardening take on a new life when regarded as a fitness regimen.
Yet another enjoyable result of a vegetable or herb garden is saving money. Something to remember when purchasing vegetables in a grocery is just how many components are reflected in the retail price. Growing, harvesting, packing, packaging, shipping, and the grocer’s profit are all included. Spending $10 including soil for one tomato plant is an incredible bargain when you consider how much you would spend for its’ harvest in a grocery store. Another even easier and green way to save is supporting the fabulous Delaware County Farmer’s Market. Prices are much lower than grocery stores because there is no middleman.
In our society all functions, social or family, seem to revolve around food. This can be difficult when trying to lose weight. The answer is not to become a social recluse, but to plan healthier meetings with your friends. Meet up with friends at the Farmer’s Market and pick out ingredients together to cook for your gatherings. Changes have a much better chance when they are fun to implement.
It seems difficult to fathom that the holidays have come and gone and we are headed into a new year. While years and resolutions seem to come and go as well, when your resolutions include fun with friends and positive environmental impact I believe they are a little easier to keep. As always, if you have any questions on growing vegetables, or planning your garden for the season please contact our Master Gardener Association at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to help. We wish you a happy and healthy new year!
Stephen Jones is an OSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.