Gardening is a lifestyle and hobby that many people enjoy and is a rewarding skill. It can provide food for the family, new knowledge about plants, and give the gardener a moment of rest and time to connect with the earth. However, getting started with a garden of fruits, vegetables, and flowers can be overwhelming for a beginner.
Where to grow a garden and plant the seeds are all questions that go through the mind of a new gardener. There are several routes that can be taken when choosing a site for a garden, and one of them does not involve as much strain on the body as a person might expect.
Because plowing and preparing the soil can be a chore, an effective way to start a garden is by using a raised bed. These beds can be raised to a comfortable height that takes some strain off the gardener’s back.
A raised bed comes in a few different shapes. You can use materials like wood, cinder blocks, or other things like milk crates. If you don’t like the construction of the bed, you also have the option of buying ready-made beds. These can be found with a quick internet search. These allow you to choose the style, color and size that best fits the space available.
Because raised gardens are off the ground, this can help reduce weeds and potentially harmful insects that could ruin flowers and crops.
“It’s so much easier. You will have minimal weed growth compared to a traditional garden,” said Truman Lamb, County Extension Agent for Agriculture and Natural Resources at Texas A&M AgriLife.
A good place to buy seeds is at local feed stores. If seed spending is not in the budget, there are other options for people in their communities.
The Amarillo Public Library has partnered with Randall County’s master gardeners to let people “check out” seeds. Unlike library books or other available materials, there is no expectation of returning the seeds. These seeds are selected according to the season by Randall County’s master gardeners. You choose a variety of different options such as zinnias, cosmos, cucumbers and dill.
Along with the seeds are instructions on how to care for the future plants to ensure the gardener has the right knowledge needed for a successful harvest: suggestions on how, when to plant, how far apart they are and even how much sunlight that is is needed in a day.
According to studies, gardening is not only beneficial because it is fresh, home-grown produce, but also good for physical and mental health. Being outside in the sun can increase the amount of vitamin D a person gets. Gardening is also known to reduce stress and improve overall mood.
“Even if you can’t get flowers and vegetables out of it, it’s a good thing to do. It allows people to grow their own food and flowers to make their world a better place,” said Stacy Clopton, public library relations coordinator for the Amarillo Public Library.
Participants are encouraged to get seeds; The library allows for five packs of seeds to be “checked out” per month, which can be mixed and matched. Someone can choose all vegetables, just flowers, or even all herbs. The Amarillo Public Library also allows for someone to call and put their seeds on hold for them to collect.
If a budding gardener is looking for inspiration or innovative ideas, an example of a fully functioning raised garden can be viewed at Sharing Hope Ministry at 2300 SW 7th Avenue in Amarillo.
After the Sharing Hope Ministry was renovated, two businessmen donated two pieces of land. Back then, the lots were unattractive, but with the help of the Food Bank, Washington Avenue Church, the Sappenfield family, and many others, the community garden was born.
“We had seen some above ground gardens and for us it was the perfect opportunity to change the look of this corner and the way people perceive us,” said April Riggs, executive director of the Sharing Hope Ministry.
This garden consists of organically grown public and private raised beds. Gardeners pay a $5 fee to ensure commitment to their beds. Water is provided by an irrigation system and the gates are open from 7am to 7pm
“We’ve had people with illnesses, and along with the benefits of the food, it also provides a very therapeutic environment,” Riggs said.
The variety of crops and produce that can be grown is endless. Some plants that can be grown in a raised garden are asparagus, okra, herbs, green beans, and many more.
At the Sharing Hope Ministry they also have some products in front of their gates that passers-by can pick up and consume.
A few plants to consider growing for fall are:
The Garden Guy, a longtime column by Bob Hatton, also has valuable information he provides about gardening in our own paper. Find out every Sunday in the print edition of Globe News and online at amarillo.com.
More:Garden Guy: Time for fall and winter vegetable gardens
Visit txmg.org for more general gardening tips.
For more information on “checking out” seeds at the Amarillo Public Library, see https://www.amarillolibrary.org/home-citylibrary.
For more information about the Garden of Hope at Sharing Hope Ministry, visit sharinghopeministry.org or call: (806) 358-7803.