Once you’ve tasted a fresh fruit or vegetable, there’s no going back to the grainy taste of supermarket produce. Maybe you get your fix from the farmers market, or you contribute to a CSA and get a share every month. No matter what it is, you get to enjoy the refreshing, clean taste of vegetables grown right where you live.
When you get into the local produce groove, you may be interested in starting your own garden. However, it isn’t always possible. Apartment dwellers and home renters may have a hard time finding the space and sunlight needed to grow their favorite fruits and veggies. If you’re feeling inspired to find your green thumb, you’re in luck. With a community garden, you can grow your plants in a shared space and harvest all the produce you could want.
Let’s go over some of the benefits of community gardens and find out what you should grow and when.
Benefits of community gardens
There’s a reason we have 13 community garden plots at Farmers Park. Some of the benefits of community gardens include:
- Get your dose of sun. The longer you spend outside, the more Vitamin D you get. This vitamin helps prevent loss of bone strength, fights disease, regulates your mood, and keeps your immune system working properly. Who needs supplements when you have gardening?
- Build up your muscles. Think you have to hit the gym to get fit? Think again. Gardening is an incredibly physical activity that involves a lot of lifting. When you’re transporting plants, digging into the ground, carrying bags of soil and mulch, or hefting a heavy watering can, you’re getting a muscle and cardio workout. Plus, you get to make a meal out of your workout!
- Create bonds with your community. In this day and age, it can feel like humans were meant to be solitary creatures. If your usual hobbies require little interaction, you’ll be pleased to find that gardening allows you to make new friends. Whether you need advice to keep pests out of your tomatoes or you want to discuss your garden’s progress, community gardens allow you to connect with those around you. You may just find your best friend at the garden.
What to grow in your garden
Starting out as a new gardener can be intimidating. If you need some help figuring out how to get started, we’ve listed some plants that may be easier for first-timers:
- Radishes. These hardy vegetables are great for beginner gardeners—both very easy to grow and difficult to accidentally kill. They should be planted either in spring or fall, as the summer can be a little too hot for them. They grow fast and can be harvested as quickly as three weeks depending on their readiness when you plant them.
- Snow peas. When the snow melts, it’s time for snow peas. These delectable peas can be eaten right off the pod from the garden, making them a great crop to harvest with kids. Even better, the more you harvest snow peas, the more peas they will yield.
- Peppers. After the last frost, peppers are ready to start growing. You can grow anything from bell peppers to habaneros to jalapeños—the only limit is your imagination. A fun fact while growing: The longer you leave a bell pepper on the vine, the sweeter it becomes. Also, as a green bell pepper turns into a red one, the vitamin C content doubles.
- Tomatoes. Tomatoes are usually the first plant a beginning gardener will try since they don’t require much management. They need a lot of sun, especially during the hot days of summer. Since they are a vine plant, you’ll need to add a trellis or stakes to your garden to keep them upright.
How can I get started at Farmers Park?
Our community gardens are open on a first-come, first-served basis and available to anyone. If you’re interested in having a plot, contact Farmers Park to discuss availability and the responsibilities for your plot. If you’re unable to get a plot, you can get fresh produce year-round at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks right here at the Park.
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