Are you the Sam-I-Am of gardening?  Stop for a moment and consider the long days of sitting at home with nothing to do that have been a mainstay of the covid crisis.  Add to that the stress over food supplies, and now may be a good time to throw off the old bah-humbugs and give gardening a try.  Gardening is not only a way to increase sustainability, but it also provides an entertaining and informative project for those stuck at home with bored children.  How about a burgeoning veggie garden brimming with healthy eats?  Perhaps, a beautiful bed filled with bee’s balm, asters, and veronicas to attract birds and honey bees. So come on Sam, try it , try it, and you’ll know how to shovel, rake, and hoe.

Will You Build It in a Box?

The first step to a garden project is to create a plan, which includes deciding what you will plant, where you will plant it, and how you will structure your garden.  Those with large yards may be able to map out plots for planting, while those with limited space may need to opt for planting in tubs or pots.  But one of the best, and most productive, ways to design your garden is by creating a raised bed.

Raised bed gardens allow for soil that is free of local fungus and bacteria and provide four times more yield on average.  To build a planter, map out a spot and measure the area you have in which to build your bed.  You’ll need some basic tools, lumber, and nails to get started.

I Will Not Plant Them in a Row

For the actual planting of your garden you will want to purchase some basic tools, such as a shovel, a trowel, a garden hoe, gloves, and, unless you have an easily accessible water supply, a large watering can.

To begin, create a rich soil of a 50/50 mix of compost and topsoil and fill your raised bed to at least six inches with soil.  Most root structures need between 6 and 12 inches of soil to grow, so deeper is better.  You can naturally enrich your soil by using worm castings as a fertilizer.

What you plant will depend in part on space and on your personal preferences, but you can maximize space by planting in triangles rather than in tidy rows.  Another easy way to utilize space is to trellis vining plants, such as squash and cucumbers, upwards on stakes, cages, or poles.  Be sure to pay attention to the spacing suggestions on seed packets and the depth requirements for planted seeds.

Will You Watch Them Like a Fox

The most important step once your seeds are planted is to nurture your garden.  Plants need the right amount of water to thrive.  Under-watered gardens will never produce healthy productive plants.  But overwatering is just as bad and leads to rotted seeds and roots.  A good rule of thumb is to provide one inch of water during the growing season.

Whether over or underwatered, stressed plants are more susceptible to disease and succumb quicker to pests.  Should you have problems with either you can almost always find eco-friendly sustainable ways to deal with garden problems.

In areas with high temperatures or intense sun, you can prevent soil from drying out by providing a quality mulch.  This also discourages weed growth and makes it easier to spot certain pests.

With just these small touches of nurturing, you can keep your soil healthy so that you can repurpose your garden in the fall for a lovely display of crocuses, narcissus, or fragrant bulbs like hyacinth.

Yes, I’ll Eat Green Beans I Grow

So, Sam, with a modicum of expense, a little planning, and some time outdoors, you’ll have a project to break up the humdrum of your day, entertain those around you, and provide delicious, nutritious food that can keep you stocked for the months ahead!