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How to Grow a Vegetable Garden in College

 

College students often find themselves living in small, tight spaces, eating packaged convenience foods that generally lack nutritional value. One way to try to get around this nutritional barrier is to grow a garden. When you think of a garden, it is generally a sprawling outdoor space with lots of sunlight. However, with a little creativity, there is no reason that you cannot grow a garden right in your apartment, no matter how cramped it may be.

Herbs

Herbs are the perfect plant for a beginner gardener to start out growing. Place them in small potting containers with organic soil in an area that receives direct sunlight. If you have a porch, set these pots outside on a table. If you are limited to indoor space, keep the pots on your windowsill. Having fresh herbs on hand is the perfect way to add intense flavor to any meal. Add fresh basil to marinara sauce, blend the leaves with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese to make pesto, or make a basil, tomato, and mozzarella sandwich with balsamic vinegar. Parsley adds great flavor to hearty dishes like soups and casseroles. Cilantro is great for cooking Mexican inspired dishes, whether it be topping tacos or using as a garnish for tortilla soup. Chives are also great to add to cream cheese, salads, and create a delicious flavor for sandwich spreads.  

Pole beans

Pole beans are a great vegetable to grow in a small outdoor space because they grow vertically. Plant these in a medium sized pot and give them something to grab onto as they grow. Put a piece of trellis in the pot, or to add a nice green decorative touch to your outdoor space, let the beans wrap around your balcony railings.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a great vegetable to grow in pots and they produce a bountiful crop. To maximize your outdoor space, try hanging these plants from your porch. Look for plant varieties that are labeled as “dwarf” plants to ensure they stay small in size as they grow. With all of the hybrid options available, you can choose from anything between cherry tomatoes all the way to beefsteak tomatoes that grow in compact spaces.

Benefits of Having a Garden

Growing  a mini garden in your home away from home is a great way to help bring fresh produce into your diet. Once your plants start producing the fruits of your labor, you have no excuse not to eat your fruits and vegetables, especially after all of the time you put into growing the plants. Tired of having grilled chicken every night? Try making tacos using wheat tortilla wraps, shredded chicken, and top with homemade salsa using your fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and cilantro, and from the store, add red onion and avocado for a tasty meal that is healthy and delicious. Another great idea is to make batches of marinara sauce with fresh plum tomatoes and basil, and pesto sauce to freeze and enjoy all year round.

If you start gardening now, by the time you graduate from college and are ready to move into a bigger place, or back home, you will have the skills and the green thumb to grow even bigger and better gardens for years to come.

 

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