Gardening Tips for Playing in the Dirt

by Sarah Stensland

The past few weeks and months have brought a lot of changes, and even fear, to our lives. Our idea of “normal life” has been drastically changed. Rather than living in a life of fear, I suggest we spend our time planning and producing. As I have been limited in my trips to the grocery store, I’ve been comforted by the thought that soon my garden will be up and running, and I’ll readily be able to shop for vegetables in my own grocery store in my yard—my garden.

Spring is definitely upon us and now is a great time to start a garden. Do you know that within 30 days you can grow your own spinach or lettuce? Do you know that you can have your own peas, green beans or carrots within two months? Many seeds are inexpensive to buy and are quick to grow. Currently, with lifestyle changes and cancelled events, many of us have more available time to tend to a garden.

Getting outside can be relaxing, a great way to get some fresh air, and a way to help reduce stress. I am certainly not an expert on gardening, but here are a few tips that I’ve learned over the past few years while “playing in the dirt”.

  • A plant won’t grow if you don’t put it in the ground. So even if this will be your first time gardening, give it a try.
  • Make sure to keep your plants watered—especially when they are small.  
  • Some plants are designed to be grown in small spaces. If you don’t have a garden or space to make a garden, get some pots and potting soil, and grow them on your deck or patio. Alternatively you could buy or build a raised bed. Cedar is a great material to use because it is non-toxic and rot-resistant.
  • Most fruits and vegetables like sunshine—six or more hours a day is best. Try to locate your garden or gardening pots in a sunny location.
  • It only takes a few simple tools to start a garden (once the ground is tilled), including a hand shovel, hoe, and a scissors or knife. 
  • Weeds are a lot easier to deal with when they are small. Spending a few minutes a day weeding can save hours of weeding with back breaking struggles when they are big.
  • Think about what veggies you or your family enjoys eating. It is easier to put time and energy into a product that you are going to enjoy.
  • There are some plants that thrive in the coolness of spring and fall. Spinach, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and peas are best suited to be planted in the spring for an early summer harvest, or late in the summer for a fall harvest.
  • There are some plants that thrive in the heat of summer. Green beans, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, squash, potatoes, cucumbers are best suited to be planted in early summer for a late summer or fall harvest.
  • Planting a garden is a great way to get kids involved with food and eating more vegetables.
  • If you want to have veggies throughout the summer, stagger the planting. This can be accomplished in two ways.
    • Plant a portion of your seeds in increments every few weeks (succession planting). For example, plant one row of carrots on May 1st, a second row on May 15th and a third row on May 31st.  
    • 2. Plant all of your seeds at the same time, but purchase varieties that mature at different rates. For example, plant all three rows of your carrots on May 1st, using one row of Mokum carrots (54 days to maturity), one row of Nantes carrots (62 days to maturity), one row of Bolero carrots (75 days to maturity).

Most importantly, enjoy the sunshine, the fresh air and your time digging in God’s garden!

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power, and love, and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate that he may bring forth food from the earth. Psalm 104:14

All hard work brings a profit but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

Sarah Stensland is a married mother to three children. She is a physical therapist, and she has a passion for healthy living.