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3 tips for growing your own food this spring

The beautiful aroma of sweet blooms and fresh cut grass have filled the campus air ? a symbolic and long overdue farewell to the brisk winter months and a cheerful hello to the sun-filled days ahead. This quarter is sure to be one marked by exciting outdoor activities and preparation for all the fun that summer will bring. However, spring is also the time to prep, plant and reap the benefits of gardening ? regardless of experience level or available free time. Before deciding whether or not to embark on a journey filled with vine ripe tomatoes and fresh picked strawberries, consider these tips on how to cultivate your own college-friendly garden.

No space is too small

Whether you live at home, Court 17, with roommates, or even in the newly developed Koz microapartments, it’s important to note that all gardens — big or small — are worthwhile. By looking at your space with a new perspective, you can see how utilizing most any window or spot in your yard that gets sunlight is a way to add greenery to your space and have vegetables on hand. If dealing with a small indoor/outdoor space, consider growing unfussy greens such as lettuce, arugula or kale. To start from seed, grab a pot with drainage holes and fill with potting soil. Sprinkle with around 15 seeds and cover with 1/8–1/2 inch soil and mist until damp. Place in sunny spot and keep soil moist. From there, you’ll be able to watch them grow!

Even the most careless people can grow produce

Are you a green thumb or more of a ‘I kill every plant I interact with’ kind of person? If the latter sounds more applicable, you’ve probably just been beaten down by failed attempts of growing high maintenance plants ? it happens to best of gardeners! The key is to find the right plant for your lifestyle and skill level. If you are looking for low-maintenance, vegetable bearing plants, then opt for a hardy plant such as squash or chilies. Both are easy to maintain and don’t require thinning or supports. Squash can usually go about 10 days in between waterings, and you can even boost that number up by placing a layer of mulch around the base of the plant to help halt evaporation.

There are several health benefits

Growing veggies and fruits improves one’s diet and health by making necessary nutrients readily available. It also eliminates the need to run out to the store and grab produce, which makes meal planning easier since you’ll always know what produce you have on hand. In addition to nutritional health, gardening is also very good for mental health and well-being. Similar to having a pet, it gives people a sense of responsibility and happiness when watching something you’ve nurtured grow. Gardening lightens up both indoor and outdoor spaces with vibrant greenery, which is a definite mood booster. Together these benefits outweigh the little time and effort required to uphold a garden — and as your garden grows, it will only increase in bountiful produce.

Alex Alderman

Alex is studying sustainable urban development. She loves going to events around Tacoma and telling people about them. Her goal is to use her degree to make cities more sustainable.