Thursday, January 1st, 2009...12:00 am

Gardening to Cope with Tough Times

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TheGardenLady wants to wish all her readers a Happy, Healthy New Year.

These are trying times – especially because of the economy. Remember that gardening can reduce stress. Many articles point this out. Going outdoors to garden you will be working in the sun so that you are getting extra Vitamin D for free while you are getting some exercise both to reduce stress and  to save on your gym bill.

Buy packets of seeds. They are the cheapest way to go.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds

Thompson & Morgan

Burpee Seeds and

Park Seed are just a few of the excellent companies where you can go online to read what they have or they will send you a catalog.

With the strange winter we are experiencing, you may want to start planting seeds indoors (see this previous post). For example if you have a sunny window, you may be able to start your own herb garden. Buying herbs in the supermarket can be pricey and fresh can be better.  By buying packets of seeds, each seed that germinates potentially can grow into a plant so that you can grow many plants, enough to plant outdoors when the weather in your area is right or enough plants to harvest and dry or even enough to give as presents. Or you can use the extra seeds to plant outdoors when the time is right.

If you are now keeping your house colder, you might be able to start lettuce seeds indoors. They like temperatures of 65 degrees or lower but not freezing so you should not put them near a window.

Raising plants indoors is trickier than raising plants outdoors because it is not the ideal environment- you might need growing lights or a special soil mix, unless you are lucky enough to have a green house. But this column is not about spending lots of money; it is about trying to save a little while doing something that is fun.

But of course, you can just curl up and enjoy the seed catalogs during the winter. (Remember that catalogs are made out of paper which is made from trees and for the stress level of the earth, we don’t want to cut down too many trees. So order only those catalog that you will really use.). Dreaming is a great stress reducer.  So dream away about the wonderful garden you can start this spring- either in your yard or in pots on your deck – if you have such places.

Sometimes, if you have no gardening space, you can call your township to see if there is a community garden you can be part of. You can begin these gardens by starting seeds indoors. This will give you a head start.

With the economy as bad as it is, if you are lucky enough to have the space to garden, the old idea of a Victory Garden may be the idea coming back. The victory for you will be having delicious, inexpensive produce to eat during the eating season and perhaps to preserve for next winter.  And if you have a sunny front lawn, that may be the place you want to convert into your vegetable garden. No more money spent on maintaining a lawn. Now the money will be spent on fresh vegetables, herbs and if you are lucky, flowers. This year though, you might want to consider edible flowers like nasturtiums. But if you don’t have land, if  you are lucky enough to have a sunny deck, you could raise some vegetable plants in pots.

Let TheGardenLady and her readers  know what you did to help your economy. Pictures would be appreciated. A toast to 2009- May you eat wonderful, homegrown vegetables.

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