SNAP-Ed New York:
Spring has sprung! Are you thinking of planting a garden this year?
by Wendy Beckman, MS, RD, CDN
Last year for the first time, my husband and I tried planting a garden. We didn't know much about what we were doing, and we planted everything too close together. We got some lovely vegetables, but some of them underperformed from being over-crowded.
It was a fun experiment, and we enjoyed getting to eat what we grew. This year we will be planning out our space better in hopes of getting better results.
Not everyone has the space to plant a garden outside. Did you know that you can grow several types of vegetables in containers? Container gardening is an excellent option for someone who doesn't have a yard or doesn't want to put all of the work into a large plot outside.
Lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, carrots, and peppers are just a few of the plants that can do well in containers.
Additionally, some herbs can be grown indoors all year round. Basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, and thyme are all herbs that will grow indoors all year round.
If you want to start a container garden indoors, you can use recycled containers such as milk jugs and milk cartons. You want to make sure that you have holes in the containers' bottoms to allow for drainage. Some plants need enough light to do well, so you will need to evaluate any window space to make sure your plants will be getting enough light.
There are many online resources that will give you some background on which plants will do best, how much light they need, and what temperatures they prefer. If you have space, you can transplant your herbs and vegetables outside.
Here are some resources to get you started:
Container Gardening for Beginners
10 Best Veggies to grow in a container
The Farmer's Almanac vegetable container gardens
Urban Gardener New York Vegetable planting calendar
USDA plant hardiness region map
Farmer's Almanac Planting calendar for New York State
Gardens can be a great way to increase your access to fresh vegetables and herbs. Having fresh herbs is a great way to experiment with different flavors without adding extra salt (sodium) to your meals. Remember that one of the goals of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is to make half of your plate fruits and vegetables. What better way to do that than add a salad to your dinner using lettuce and tomatoes that you grew yourself! When you grow your own vegetables, you know how fresh they are – just picked today!
If you are a SNAP recipient, you can use your SNAP EBT card to purchase seeds to grow your own food, which is a great way to stretch your SNAP dollars!
Wendy Beckman, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian with the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA). She has over 13 years working as a Registered Dietitian in long term care and acute care settings and currently oversees the NYSOFA SNAP-Ed Nutrition Education program for older adults in New York State.
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This institution is an equal opportunity provider. For more information on how to save time, save money and eat healthy, visit www.snapedny.org