I had a moment in my garden the other day. The sunshine was warm on my back and birds were chirping. Just far enough from my house, I could barely hear the drone of my kids screaming inside. Anticipating the taste of the fresh peas and lettuce that I was planting, my mouth started to water.
Over the years, gardening has become an activity that brings me joy; peaceful and meditative, it helps me relieve stress and connect with nature. Although it is a lot of work, the payback of delicious produce or beautiful flowers makes it worthwhile. From a nutrition perspective, research has shown that kids involved in growing and harvesting vegetables are more likely to eat them, and vegetables picked at their peak ripeness are higher in vitamins and minerals. Unfortunately, gardening, like most things, is a skill that needs to be learned. I remember the disappointment of my first garden – green tomatoes, onions the size of garlic cloves, and a lone watermelon, harvested too soon, tasting like – water. The only edible things that grew well were chickweed and chard, two vegetables I don’t even like to eat. So how can we make our first experience with gardening successful?
• Start small – if you have never grown food before, start with a single box or planter garden. Plants require sun, water, space to grow (i.e. you may have to do some weeding) and nutrients (soil, compost, maybe some added fertilizer).
• Some easier seeds to start are radishes, lettuce, peas, beans, chives, arugula and basil. Some edible flowers include pansies, nasturtiums and marigold.
• Talk to experts at some of Salmon Arm’s gardening stores –Nico’s, Pedro’s, Hanna and Hanna’s…
• Planting dates are listed in the Farmer’s Almanac website: http://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates/BC/Salmon+Arm.
• To learn more about gardening and growing food, check out the Shuswap Garden Club (http://www.bcgardenclubs.com/clubs/shuswapgardenclub.html), Shuswap Food Action (www.shuswapfood.ca) or the Shuswap-Thompson chapter of Master Gardeners (http://mgabc.org).
• If gardening does not interest you, you can still enjoy eating fresh garden produce from one of our many Farmer’s markets.
-Serena Caner is a registered dietician who works at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.