One easy way to help protect our planet on this 45th anniversary of Earth Day is to plant a garden. Flower or vegetable, growing plants helps the air quality around us by storing carbon and releasing oxygen into our atmosphere. Plants can also act as natural insecticides by attracting beneficial insects to our yards and reducing our need for pesticides to deal with harmful insects.
Don’t forget the nutritious benefit of planting vegetables. We can grow them without pesticides and eat them daily to keep our families healthy.
Getting Started with a Garden
Forget about the gardening terms, and start with the space and sunlight you have. Sunlight is the most important factor in selecting a planting spot. Tomatoes like 8 hours of direct sun while lettuce and spinach can get by with less and some shade. Almost anyone can grow vegetables in their yard, though yards with lots of shade have limited options.
If you’re not sure how much sunlight your garden receives, watch the sun move over your yard over the course of one weekend, noting which spots get the most sun and how much. Six to eight hours of direct sun is what you’re looking for if you want warm weather crops like tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Don’t worry if it’s your deck receiving the majority of sunlight; you can still have a small garden, just in containers on the deck.
Start small. Pick a few plants to grow this year. I shared 5 easy to grow vegetables a few weeks ago on It is a Keeper. Ask your kids what they want to grow, and get them involved in the garden as a family project. Don’t forget to try growing herbs. Fresh parsley and basil are so amazing!
- Build raised beds using leaf mulch.
- Easy plants: beans, carrots, lettuce, spinach.
- Spring planting: greens, broccoli, cabbage.
- Summer: Pepper, Tomato, Basil.
- Use edible plants as ground cover.
Free Seed Starting Calendar
Not sure when to plant seeds or plants? Grab a copy of my seed starting calendar. Before filling in dates, you’ll need to find out the last frost date for spring in your area. In my zone, Zone 7, it’s April 15th. Using the last frost date, you can decide when to plant your vegetables, and how long to keep planting vegetables to take advantage of the power of succession planting.
Gardening: Vegetable Gardening and Edible Landscaping
Early Spring Gardening Tasks
Fruit and Vegetable Canning Recipes
Using Vegetable Garden Space Efficiently