In case you didn’t know, today is Earth Day! While the FBGs are big fans of saving gas and recycling, another way we like to go green is by growing our own veggies! In fact, gardening is one of the best ways to go healthy and go green, no matter what size space you have to grow in.
We recently chatted with Jackie Keller, nutrition expert and founding director of NutriFit, for her tips on creating windowsill gardens that enable those living in even the smallest apartments to become greener.
How to Celebrate Earth Day 2011 With a Flower Pot Garden
What are the benefits of creating a garden? Almost too numerous to list, but here are a few: Gardening is a multi-sensory experience. It even improves the functioning of the brain, as it incorporates spatial relationships. But on a fundamental level, it uses your sense of sight (you can watch plants grow, and be stimulated by the colors, sizes and shapes of plants and seeds), and it employs the sense of touch, smell and taste. Not to mention the economic advantages of growing your own herbs, tomatoes, peppers, onions and other vegetables!
How do you get started—whether you’re living in a house with a yard or a tiny apartment with just a windowsill? Simple works best. Start with a few seeds or baby plants in a clay pot on a windowsill in a sunny spot. Basil, mint and rosemary are all very easy to grow. A small bag of potting soil, good drainage and sunlight are all you need. If you have a yard, the same criteria apply.
What are three things you need to keep in mind when creating a garden? Plants need light, water and air (for the roots to breathe). Remember this, plus do not overcrowd your gardening space. Also, be patient. Plants have their own cycles.
Why is taking the time to grow your own food worth it? The taste of fresh-from-the-garden produce is significantly better than grocery store produce. The economic benefit is substantial too—consider that one small package of fresh basil costs anywhere from $2 to $3, and you can grow it for pennies. Plus, you’ll eat more vegetables and use more herbs if you grow them yourself. You can control what—if any—chemicals you use to control insects (I recommend no chemicals at all, nature offers a variety of remedies that work and are more healthful than any chemical). Finally, you get exercise when you garden, and it’s very emotionally gratifying to see living things grow!
What’s the No. 1 mistake people making when growing their own produce? Over-watering, followed by under-watering. Also, start small! There’s no need to invest a lot of money in your first crop. Learning to grow is like learning to play a musical instrument—you get better and better with experience and practice.
Any other tips or advice? Get the whole family involved. As I said before, gardening is good for the brain, as well as the body. At NutriFit, we have our own farm and are growing more of our own produce every season.
Happy Earth Day 2011 and a big thanks to Jackie for the tips! We love going green! If you want more of Jackie’s awesome advice and tips, check out this review of her new book! —Jenn