As we slide into the new year, here are some simple and easy things you can do in the garden to improve your life.
Start an Edible Garden
When you start an edible garden and begin to successfully grow things you really get such a confidence boost. Even if it is only one snap pea that grows on the plant, plucking that pea off the plant you just grew and eating it will make you feel so accomplished. To be honest, even when you become a more experienced gardener this feeling never goes away. I always feel so accomplished as I watch my garden grow and every year it is different. Studies have shown that gardening reduces stress because it allows your mind to focus on something new. It is also such a methodical process sometimes like sowing seeds that you can let your mind wander and since you are outside and creating something new your mind most likely will wander to happy memories. As your garden flourishes, you will inevitably have too much of some varieties and this provides a great opportunity to share the bounty of your garden with others and create stronger bonds with those around you. But if those benefits weren't enough, gardening also helps your immune system by helping you eat better and get a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the sun.
My best advice for those that want to start an edible garden is to start small. It is surprising how much you can grow from just one garden bed. I would recommend starting with a some wine barrels or horse troughs as you can easily purchase these items and plop them on your site (make sure to drill holes in the bottom if there aren't already ones). In your first season of growing things, start off with easy plants. A simple way to determine this is by visiting your local plant nursery to see what starter vegetables they have the most of and start with those. Or if you only have a small wine barrel, I would recommend starting off with herbs such as mint (make sure contained), chives, cilantro or thyme.
Get a House Plant
During the gloomy days of winter, house plants can give our homes the life that we need. They add color, texture and a calming element to any room. Studies have even shown that house plants can reduce stress, boost your mood and improve your productivity. You don't have to own lots of plants but even just having one can boost your mood. Although some research in the past has shown that house plants can clean the indoor air, more recent studies have shown that you really have to own a whole lot of them to make a real impact. However, the emotional impact indoor plants can have is well worth it.
Choose easy plants such as succulents, herbs, snake plant, pothos, air plants or philodendron. The key to houseplants is really just knowing the care of them. Usually the care refers to what type of light a plant needs (bright to low indoor lighting) and how much water they need (usually you wait until the top inch is dry before watering). Once you get the hang of how long between watering your plants need, you can get in a routine with them and you will notice how little care they truly need. For all indoor plants, note if they are pet/child safe before determining where to put them in your home.
Plant a Native Plant
Planting a native plant is one of the easiest things you can do to start improving our ecosystem one plant at a time. Native plants provide habitat (food/shelter) for native wildlife such as birds. Your life will become so much richer by seeing the native wildlife visiting your garden. Native plants require less maintenance, less water, and no toxic fertilizers since they are planted where they should be. By you simply adding a native plant into your landscape you will know you are taking one more step to help our environment and the biodiversity where you live.