Originally published in the Daily Local News
Spring and the opportunity for in-season produce we’ve been missing throughout the winter is here. And, while pick-your-own produce at local farms is still a couple of months away, it’s the perfect time to get some other things in the ground while the weather is still cool. Don’t think you have space for a garden? Maybe you have the space but no longer have the agility of your youth to get on the ground to tend to one. It’s okay. Believe me; you’re not alone. But with a container and a few selections from your local nursery, you can have your own fresh vegetables and herbs in no time—with or without a backyard. So, let’s dust off those gardening gloves and get outside!
Step 1: The Container
Almost any type of large container will work, from waist-level planter boxes to large flowerpots and even cloth bins with handles. The important thing is that you can comfortably tend to its contents and that it has drainage at the bottom. Check your local nurseries and hardware stores for the best choice.
Step 2: The Contents
First, you’ll need soil for your container garden. But beware … there are seemingly more varieties of soil than there are types of toothpaste (who knew?). A simple place to start—especially for the novice gardener overwhelmed by the options—is with an organic potting mix.
Next, of course, you’ll need your plants. Think about what you’d like to grow (or should I say eat?). In the cooler days of early spring, the following tend to do well:
If getting out to a nursery is difficult, there are companies like BloomBox that will deliver your plants to your doorstep! You must live within their delivery radius, but once you specify your location, you can select from all sorts of locally grown produce for your garden. Be sure to consider the sunlight your container location gets when deciding what to plant.
Step 3: The Care
No matter what your source for your plants is, they are sure to arrive with little identification tabs outlining their care instructions. For me, a self-proclaimed amateur gardener with an inconsistent green thumb, these are little cheat sheets. Simply follow their instructions, and it’s hard to go wrong! Just keep in mind that early spring brings the threat of occasional frost. Pay attention to the weather forecast! If frost is likely, cover your garden with plastic or cloth for protection against the night chill.
Don’t let the idea of starting a garden intimidate you. When you use containers and keep it simple, gardening becomes accessible for folks of all abilities and skill levels. It’s time to embrace the joy of being outdoors and experience the satisfaction of growing your own food.
The Hickman is a senior living community located in the heart of West Chester, Pennsylvania. Guided by Quaker principles and traditions that value all life and welcome diversity, The Hickman offers individualized care allowing older adults the opportunity to enjoy a productive life and to explore the richness of all of life’s possibilities.
Jennifer Singley, MGS