April is National Gardening Month; it is the time when our ground thaws and our gardens are ready for a new year of growth. With most people spending more time than ever eating and working at home during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we are given a positive opportunity to plant bigger gardens than we have in previous years! In this blog, we will share tips for getting started, the benefits of gardening, and how to enjoy and share your harvest!
Whether you have planted a garden for years or this is your first attempt, you need to make a plan that outlines what you are going to plant and where you should plant it in your garden. The Farmer’s Almanac offers a great resource with 20 different layout options for your garden. Once you select the layout based on the size and location of your garden, you need to map out where you will plant each seed. Start by drawing out your garden and placing symbols for each vegetable you want to plant in the drawing. The Almanac has a Garden Planning app that you can use for some expert advice on the best layout for your garden plus when to plant and harvest each crop!
Benefits of Gardening
There are many physical and psychological benefits that you receive from gardening. The acts of planting and tending to a garden are great ways to get in daily movement and keep your body active. It is also a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the benefits of the sun and fresh air. Then, when it comes time to harvest and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor, you get the benefit of eating healthy, fresh food!
The psychological benefits of gardening include stress relief, ease of depressive symptoms, feeling more connected with others and the world, and becoming more accepting of the “imperfect” (Psychology Today).
When your vegetables are ready to harvest, you will likely have A LOT of produce to use up! The key is to diversify the way you prepare it, share it with your family and friends, and preserve it for future use.
If you planted zucchini and suddenly have 20 large zucchinis ripen at the same time, you need to come up with creative ways to use it! Try some of these creative and delicious recipe options for zucchini from Good Housekeeping, and look for recipe ideas for all of your produce on the internet or apps like Pinterest.
Check with your neighbors, family, friends, and co-workers to see if they would like to receive some of your harvest. You could even set up a weekly trade if they are growing something in their garden that you aren’t!
Extend the time that you get to enjoy your harvest with preservation. You can preserve fruits and vegetables in four ways: freezing, drying, pickling, and canning. Depending on the type of fruits and vegetables you grow, you can pick the method that you will most enjoy.
We hope you feel inspired to get outside and start your own garden this year!