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Start Planting Your Vegetable Garden!

By Brandy Strub, MS, RD/LD, Dietitian, Veterans Memorial Hospital

Spring has sprung!!! That means it’s time to start thinking about getting your vegetable garden started, if you haven’t already.   Never had a vegetable garden……..then now’s a good time to start one, especially if you want to eat a little healthier, increase your activity level, need to decrease some stress, want to save some money on groceries, or need to increase your vitamin D level with a little sunshine.

Don’t have the space for a vegetable garden? Share space with family or friends, inquire if there’s a community garden available, build some raised beds or window boxes, use an old ladder as a trellis, or try gardening in containers.  Per the article, “15 Best Container Gardening Vegetables for Your Patio,” by Arricca Elin Sansone, the following grow well in containers: carrots, leafy greens, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, pole beans, radishes, peas, turnips, cucumbers, egg plants, green onions, herbs. She also notes that shallow-rooted veggies do ok in window boxes, but larger plants need containers that are at least 12” deep. You will just need to find a spot with some direct sunlight and have a water source available.

Think gardening costs too much?  It doesn’t have to. Use whatever you have around the house for containers (e.g., old planters, buckets, wheel barrels, bath tubs, toilets, etc….the sky’s the limit) and inquire with your city to see if they have a free mulch pile. Seeds are inexpensive and you can also save them and swap them with other gardeners. Just make sure that when choosing seeds or plants, that you choose the ones that you eat and buy often, and that produce a lot. Instead of buying fertilizers and chemicals, you can also make your own compost using food scraps/waste and use natural pest control such as companion planting.

Think you need to know a lot about gardening before starting one? Not really…..A lot can be learned by trial and error. However, if you want to learn more, you can go to almanac.com (the Farmer’s Almanac) or extension.iastate.edu (Iowa State Extension) for more information on gardening. The Iowa State Extension Office website also has a link to Master Gardeners in your area if you have questions. Who knows…..you may find out that you actually enjoy gardening so much, that you yourself may want to become a Master Gardener😊