As colder weather starts to roll in, now is the perfect time to start your fall garden! You can create a garden in any space, whether you have a huge backyard or just an apartment windowsill.
Why grow your own food? There are so many reasons! As grocery prices continue to rise around the country, having an independent source of nutritious food can save you money in the checkout aisle. If you are someone who wants to eat more vegetables but struggles to come up with recipes to cook, a free supply of herbs and vegetables can easily add a boost of nutrition to any meal without too much effort. Also, scientific research has proven that adding plants to your living space can have major impacts on your mental health and well-being, and there is nothing more exciting than finally seeing that first sprout pop up out of the dirt!
There are a few things that every plant needs to survive:
Sunlight: All plants need at least 4 hours of sunlight every day! This can be accomplished in a few ways, depending on your space. Outdoor spaces are ideal for growing, but if all you have is a windowsill, don't worry! There are many herbs and plants that thrive in lower light conditions (keep reading for more details on those). Grow lights are another great option for creating better light conditions inside! You can purchase one online, or you can easily make your own using a height adjustable lamp and an LED bulb.
Water: All plants need water, although in varying amounts. If you are the type of person that never knows when or how much to water their plants, there are a number of free apps to help you track watering schedules and give tips for your specific herbs and veggies.
Good Soil: Soil is the foundation from which growing plants derive most of their nutrients, so it is important to pick a good one. Indoor/outdoor potting mix can be found at most hardware stores, grocery stores, or gardening centers.
Container: There are so many options for potting containers when starting your garden! You can use juice boxes, milk jugs, old cans, buckets, pots, plastic-lined baskets, or anything else you can think of to grow your vegetables, just make sure that you make a few drainage holes at the bottom of your containers to avoid root rot. As a general rule, plants that will grow larger should be in bigger containers, while plants like herbs will thrive in smaller ones.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PLANTS
You can either start your plants as seedlings, or buy pre-grown plants at the hardware store or garden center. Since it is the fall, there are likely to be fewer pre-grown plants available than in the springtime, but seeds are cheap and can be found anywhere that plants are sold. The plants you choose will depend on the space you have, as well as the lighting conditions. Here are a few ideas for what plants to grow:
Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beans, lettuce, kale, arugula, chard, spinach, carrots, onions, radishes, parsley, basil, mint, thyme, rhubarb
Lettuce, kale, arugula, chard, spinach, radishes, carrots, onions, parsley, basil, mint, thyme, rhubarb
If gardening at home isn't an option for you, consider looking into a community garden plot near you. Denver Urban Gardens has a network of over 190 community and school based gardens throughout the city, comprised of 10 x 15 ft plots tended to by families, individuals, and volunteers. The annual fee for one of these garden plots is around $40, varying slightly depending on the garden. However, no one is ever turned away because of an inability to pay. Applications for these plots begin on April 1, 2023. Click here to find a community garden near you!