Few people are actually harvesting enough veggies and fruits to feed their families full-time, but they are stretching what they buy from the grocery store and using it as a teaching opportunity for their kids. Whether you’re high-tech gardening indoors or getting dirt under your fingernails outside, the act of gardening is family-friendly, soothing and environmentally sustainable, so its popularity practically explains itself.
“People are drawn to gardens instinctively as a way to reduce stress and bring moments of joy into our lives. There’s nothing like the feeling of seeing a seed sprout and turn into a beautiful, nutritious plant that can feed our families,” explained Kelvakis.
So whether you prefer to stay in the air-conditioning or feel the sun on your brow, here are some ways you can catch up on this gardening trend:
One of the most popular recent inventions is the “indoor garden,” where you can hydroponically grow veggies, herbs and flowers. “Hydroponics is a technique of growing plants that uses water instead of soil in order to get nutrients to the plants. In soil, microorganisms break down complex organic chemicals into forms that plants can take up. In hydroponics, because we don’t have those same microorganisms, you supply nutrients in their simplest form which plants can immediately absorb. This is one of the reasons why hydroponics can grow food faster than soil,” said Kelvakis.
Some options can even fit on the kitchen counter, so fresh produce is always top of mind! Most indoor gardens provide you with 4-6 seed pods at a time, allow you to fill a reservoir tank for watering and provide automatic perfect light via an attached UV lamp that hovers above the seeds.
Kelvakis recommends growing produce with cooking in mind. “When you are able to grow greens like red and green lettuce, kale, chard and arugula, you can make some tasty salads,” he said. Lettuce greens, a variety of herbs — from basil to chamomile — and small tomatoes are easiest to grow indoors, as they can be harvested and eaten fairly quickly.
A 2019 study of home gardens, conducted by the University of Tennessee’s Department of Plant Sciences, revealed that bean varieties, okra, cucumbers, squash varieties, collards and pumpkins all grow fairly well throughout the state. Powers said, “I’ve found success with mustard greens, lettuce, yellow squash and leafy greens like chard, cabbage and bok choy.”
Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, starting small or building big in the backyard, gardening can bring you joy, fresh food and a sense of satisfaction. “These [veggies] are riper and more nutritious than grocery store produce,” Richards said. “It’s a healthy thing for me, that’s why I do it.”
So, don’t feel overwhelmed and just ease into it! “[Starting a garden] can seem like a lot,” said Powers, “but don’t hesitate. You can always figure it out. Don’t overthink it.” We hope you find advice and inspiration from this article — now get out there and start growing!
Gardening Tips & Tricks
Start small and experiment! Powers recommends using a 4×4 garden bed at first and utilizing the “Square Foot” gardening method, which simplifies the gardening process by dividing the bed into a grid and allows for planting seeds closer together. “It shades out weeds and creates a microclimate,” he said.
If you don’t want to break the bank on testing local soil or buying enough premium topsoil to fill an entire garden bed, alternate topsoil with yard waste, such as dead leaves and grass clippings.
Visit a local garden center! Local employees and owners will be able to advise you on what grows well in your area, the pros and cons of different gardening styles and so much more. Powers recommends buying your seeds here as well.
Have fun with it! Whether you’re aiming to be a “market gardener” who sells food at a local farmer’s market or simply trying to have fresh salads each day of summer, never let the stress of your vision get in the way of enjoying your garden.