• 24May

    Contributed by Good Measure Meals Registered Dietitian, Joy Goetz.

    One look at Pinterest, Tumblr, or just about any social networking website, and it’s clear that DIY is all the rage!

    Nothing gets me more excited than a new project, but I know from experience that they usually involve more work than I think, and things often do not go as planned – especially when Mother Nature is involved.

    Maybe that’s why gardening is intimidating for some people. Outcomes are not guaranteed, even when we do everything right! However, there is nothing more satisfying than picking your own fresh herbs from your garden or biting into your first home-grown tomato of the season.

    Garden-fresh cucumbers and tomatoes

    Garden-fresh cucumbers and tomatoes

    If you’ve never had a green thumb before, here are some of the most important things to remember:
    1. Pick a convenient location. This is key! If you see the garden every day, you are much more likely to notice if your plants need attention and it will increase your chances of success…AND your enjoyment of your  garden. Your ideal spot will get at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day, have easy access to water, and be convenient for you.

    2. Plant the right thing at the right time. If this is your first summer, set yourself up for success by starting small: cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers and herbs are pretty fool-proof and grow really well in containers. For a June garden, I’d recommend buying tomato and pepper plants, but herbs and vegetables that have larger seeds (think cucumbers, beans and squash) grow quickly and you can save some money by buying seeds for those. How many should you buy? The Square Foot Gardening method has excellent instructions for how to space your plants to maximize what you can grow by planting 1, 4, 9 or 16 plants per square foot. Do a little math before you go shopping!

    Potted cherry tomato plant

    Potted cherry tomato plant

    3. Pay attention to your garden. Picking a good location (step #1!) helps with this. Gardens are kind of like babies. They can’t talk to you, but if you pay attention, you’ll notice if they’re looking thirsty or if a pesky bug is bothering them.

    It’s really just that easy! Anyone can do it.

    Potted basil plant

    Potted basil plant

    In fact, as part of the Senior Community Garden Initiative last year, I helped over 100 people (half were first-time gardeners) get started.

    The Senior Community Garden Initiative was a joint project between Open Hand, the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Atlanta Community Bank, and resulted in 8 new community gardens in the Atlanta area, most of them in low-income neighborhoods.

    This is one of the ways Open Hand is working to improve the nutrition and quality of life of our neighbors. Remember, 100% of the profits from Good Measure Meals go directly to Atlanta non-profit Open Hand, and help to fund exciting projects like this.

    Let’s get planting!