May 19, 2011

With the change in seasons, there’s a host of delicious food that is now available. This year, try your hand at keeping a garden and save yourself a trip (or several) to the produce aisle!

Once you decide that you’d like to plant a garden, there are a few steps to prepare:

  • Space: Where will you grow your plants? Designate a space in your yard to devote to plants. This will depend on what type of plants you’ll be growing and how much you are going to want to plant. If you live in an apartment, check to see if and where planting is allowed.
  • Time: How much time are you willing to spend on a garden? Will it be a single year investment or do you plan on continuing the hobby in the future? In addition, will you be able to constantly monitor your plants, or do you prefer a more hands-off approach?
  • Climate: As we all know, Missouri has some incredibly varied weather! It’s important to plant items that will be able to withstand the weather changes, as well as will be able to grow in this area and climate.
  • Plants: What type of plants do you want to grow? Fruits, vegetables and herbs are all popular options. Fruits usually take more than one planting season to provide edible fruit, while vegetables will yield a crop each year. Herbs are great to plant for beginners, or for those who may not have a lot of time for a full-blown garden. The University of Missouri Extension Program put together a great web resource for planting in this area. You can also check out Grow Native! for Missouri-specific plants.
  • Education: Take care to learn about the different items you’ll be planting, as well as the proper techniques for maintaining plants. Tips about fertilizers, tools, watering times and equipment will all come in handy!

In addition to being a hobby and great way to get outdoors over the coming summer, planting a garden is a way to save on certain groceries because they are available right outside the door. It can also be used to give back to different community organizations. SERVE, located in Fulton, encourages residents to “plant a row” for its food pantry.

If you aren’t sure if you will be able to dedicate yourself to a garden, there are plenty of resources in mid-Missouri for local produce. There are several area farmers’ markets where you’ll be able to purchase food planted very nearly in your own backyard:

What are your gardening tips? What do you grow in your garden?