Niagara Gazette

May 20, 2014

APRONS READY: You can't get more local than your own backyard

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Two of the goals of Creating Healthy Places are to promote being active and eating a healthy diet. One way to be active and eat healthy is to grow a vegetable garden. 

Having a vegetable garden doesn’t have to be back-breaking work. Container gardening is a great way to garden anywhere. You can buy container(s) to use or you can reuse something from around the house. That old kiddy pool or baby bathtub that hasn’t been used in years can make a great container garden. Wooden fruit crates and wicker baskets make beautiful container gardens. Old tires can be painted and recycled into container gardens. If it will hold soil and you can make drainage holes in the bottom, you can turn it into a container garden.

I recently asked John Farfaglia, CCE-Niagara County horticulturist, what he suggests I plant this year. He explained that “Some of the easier vegetables to grow for first-time container gardeners include lettuce, radishes, beets, beans, Swiss chard, onions, peppers and patio tomatoes. 

“Herbs such as basil, parsley and oregano are also good choices. Virtually any other vegetable can be grown in containers if the container is big enough. Large plants such squash, cucumbers and tall tomatoes need at least 10 if not 20 gallons of soil volume for best results. 

“At the other end of the spectrum, lettuce, spinach, radishes and green onions can do well in tin cans, 10-inch pots or any container that holds one half gallon of soil mix.”

John’s advice was great for starting some new container gardening projects this year. He also told me to place containers where they receive adequate light. 

“Tomatoes, peppers, beans, eggplant and squash do best with at least six hours of sun per day,” he said. “ Leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, and Swiss chard require less light and may actually show leaf burn in direct south exposure on the hot days.”

Adequate amounts of soil, water and light are key for any container. A great perk of containers is that they can be moved if you find they aren’t getting enough or too much sun exposure.

If you have a location at home or the office that receives six hours of sunlight a day during the summer, you too can have homegrown produce!

Jennifer Grier works with Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work and Play. It is a five year grant awarded by the New York State Department of Health to Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County. The grant aims to prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases among the people of Niagara Falls by making it easier to be physically active and to eat more healthy foods. CCE Niagara County provides equal program and employment opportunities. 

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