Backyard Bounty – Gardening for Family and Community
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With the pandemic uncertainties before us, more people are choosing to start a garden. A backyard vegetable garden can help reduce food costs and provide an engaging outdoor activity. While these are excellent reasons to get growing, did you know your homegrown fruits and veggies could also help others in need? Food pantries, soup kitchens, and even those in your community who are most vulnerable can benefit from your garden’s bounty.
Getting Started With Gardening Is Easy
Starting your first garden can feel a little intimidating, but it can be fairly easy to grow fruits and vegetables in your backyard. It just takes a little planning, the right amount of sun, and a lot of digging.
● When you plan your garden, you obviously need to decide what to grow (https://www.homeadvisor.com/r/home-gardening-tips/) and where to set up your plot. Ideally, you should start small with easy vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, or squash.
● You can buy transplants to speed up the process, but it’s cheaper and you may see better results if you use seedlings (https://www.thespruce.com/vegetable-garden-seeds-or-seedlings-1403412) you’ve started indoors
● Rainwater is wonderful for backyard gardens, but you cannot rely on it to provide enough water for your plants. Determine a watering (https://www.almanac.com/content/when-water-your-vegetable-garden-watering-chart) schedule to ensure your garden gets all the moisture it needs.
How Can I Use My Surplus to Help Others?
With the right tending, your garden could yield a significant amount of vegetables; you may have more than your family can eat. Or, maybe this garden is a labor of love that allows you to help others in the community. Here’s how to share your bounty:
● Look to local soup kitchens, and call to see if you can drop off produce (https://www.almanac.com/content/when-water-your-vegetable-garden-watering-chart) weekly. Note there are specific items they can and can’t accept, so make sure you have a clear idea of what you can share.
● Make a point to also check with nearby food pantries to see about donating your vegetables (https://www.extension.iastate.edu/news/donate-excess-garden-vegetables-food-pantries-0).
● And don’t forget your neighbors, especially older folks who can’t get out right now.
What Else Can I Do With My Produce?
Nobody wants their gardening efforts to go to waste. If you still have a considerable abundance after sharing with others, why not plan ahead for the cooler months? You can put your produce to good use by stocking your pantry and your freezer.
● While you should certainly eat your veggies now, canning produce sets the stage for delicious meals later in the year. You can also freeze your produce or use a food dehydrator.
● Speaking of meal preparation, senior gardeners cooking for themselves get a double-dose of health benefits. Vegetables provide necessary nutrients while cooking benefits you physically and mentally.
Starting a garden is an incredible way to stay active, lower food costs, and ensure a regular dose of vitamins and nutrients. However, your efforts can also contribute to helping the food supply and giving back to your community.