As the warmer weather starts to creep in, it’s the perfect time to get those joints moving again. What better way to get a bit of extra time in the sun that to invest in growing some of your own fresh produce through a bit of gardening.
Gardening is a healthy activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. An edible garden can be started in a small area or in pots. This ‘could-be’ hobby provides exercise, relaxation, fresh food and enjoyment.
Research shows that gardening is a healthy activity. Working in the garden provides benefits that include but are not limited to:
Exercise – physical activity improves your endurance, strength, mobility and flexibility;
Promotion of heart health and reduction in stroke risk;
Relaxation – Helps with stress-relief and improves self-esteem;
Increased hand strength and dexterity;
Improved brain health and reduction of Alzheimer’s risk;
Encourages immune system regulation;
Decreases likelihood of depression and optimizes mental health;
Fresh food – provides you and your family with a healthy source of inexpensive fresh food;
Appreciation of food growing – provides an appreciation of foods and their origin.
The food you grow yourself is the freshest food you can eat. And because home gardens are filled with fruits and vegetables, it’s also among the healthiest food you can eat. Not surprisingly, several studies have shown that gardeners eat more fruits and vegetables than their peers. Not to mention that homegrown produce simply tastes better.
An edible garden can be started in a small area or even a garden shed! Courtyards, balconies, porches and very small gardens are all suitable sites. If you don’t need a raised garden bed, you can create a space directly into the soil in your garden.
If you want to be a little more creative, there are a variety of containers that can be adapted to grow plants in. These include:
Old wheelbarrows or open prams;
Old bathtubs or laundry tubs with holes for drainage;
Old car tyres that can be stacked on top of each other at different heights;
Plastic and terracotta pots on castors that can be moved around easily;
Large pots, polystyrene boxes, barrels, large terracotta pipes and recycled containers;
Purpose-built raised garden beds that can be made to suit your needs.
Here are a few easy starters that require little care to get growing and once ready can be used to make delicious spaghetti bolognaise. Just remember everything you pick to eat should be washed carefully.
Plant your tomato seedlings 15cm deep in a sunny spot with lots of air circulation. Keep the soil moist – neither dry nor wet. Water plants with seaweed solution and don’t over feed them; you can simply add simple manure or fertiliser through the growing stage. As the plant starts to grow, support with a bamboo stake.
Rather than purchasing seedlings – which can take a lot of time to grow – buy a small Basil shrub and plant with soil in a pot or in the garden where it will receive 6 to 8 hours of full sun daily. The soil should be moist and well-drained. For the plant to continue to grow, make sure to pick the leaves regularly and pinch off any white flowers that start to grow. If flowers do grow, just cut them off.