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Grow it Yourself!

May 24, 2021

We are lucky to live in Southern California, where the weather is wonderful year round. This means we get to be outside all the time, and we can grow our own food!

Some of you got into gardening over quarantine, judging from the lines at nurseries and the fact that tomato cages were out of stock faster than the latest gaming console. No wonder, as it was a tough year and studies have shown that gardening outside lowers cortisol levels and raises our mood more than almost any indoor activity. (Cortisol is our "stress" hormone.) But for those of you that didn't, here are some fun tips to get started!

As May comes to a close, our foggy weather will end and it will start to get warmer. This is a great time to head over to a nursery (Walter Anderson's, Armstrong) or home improvement store (Lowe's, Home Depot) and grab some seedlings. These usually come in small containers or in little six packs. Transplant these guys to bigger pots right away and give them lots of water. If you read the little tag that comes with each, it will tell you how much water, sunlight, and other nutrients they need, as well as when you can expect them to bear fruit!

May and June are a great time to start melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew), squashes (zucchini and all its varieties), peppers (all kinds, from the hot ones to bell peppers), tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and corn. Herbs also do great year round (as long as they don't get too much sun or heat), so grab some mint, rosemary, and basil to spice up your dishes!

Gardening is a great way for kids (and also for adults!) to understand where their food comes from and the work it takes to get that food to their plate. Gardening can be a fun family activity, from choosing the seeds or seedlings at the store, to taking care of the plants, to harvesting the fruits and veggies, and of course, to eating them together! The excitement of going through the process together, checking the plants each day to care for them and harvest when it's time, can add some excitement to vegetables, which we know aren't usually a favorite of most kids.

As you probably learned sometime during your middle school science career, plants need three things to grow: soil, water, and sunlight. (The occasional fertilizer never hurt either.) The correct soil can be picked up at any nursery, and the other two, hopefully you have at home! The easy thing about veggies is that once they have those three things, they do great. If you have an outdoor spot for a big garden, your veggies will grow wonderfully. But if you've got a small spot (like a patio or porch) that gets good sunlight, you'll get some great plants too.

So give it a try! Plant some veggies for some home grown additions to your diet, increases to your mood, and overall health. You won't regret it, especially when it comes time to harvest your hard work. Let us know in the comments below what you think you may try this year!


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