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Gardening Tips While Social Distancing

April is a great time to start planting seeds for a garden. Hannah Smith, RD, explains how gardening can help when you're staying home.

March 31, 2020

Gardening tips

Finding different ways to pass the time while staying home can become difficult. Thankfully, spring is here and temperatures are beginning to rise.

Gardening is both a fun and educational way for families to spend time together, and April is a great time to start!

Hannah Smith, RD, Rochester Regional Health's Eastern Region Clinical Nutrition Manager, discusses the benefits of gardening during social distancing, how you can get kids involved, and what you need to get started.

Why April is a great time to plant seeds

Early spring is a good time to start planting seeds for a garden.

Since you’re spending most of April at home, you can monitor your early progress and ensure your seeds are growing like they should be for your garden to be ready for full bloom by summer.

“The best time to plant your seeds indoors is six to eight weeks prior to the last frost,” says Hannah Smith, RD. “Planting seeds right now will allow them to be moved outside when the weather is right.”

How to garden with materials at home

While you’re staying home and avoiding going to the store, you may think you don’t have the resources to start gardening.

But one of the best parts about gardening is that most of the required materials can be found in your home.

“You need an egg carton or a yogurt container, some plastic wrap, and some soil,” says Hannah. “And you can order your seeds online.”

Grow your seeds:

  • Cut the lid off an egg carton and place soil in the bottom
  • Plant the seeds in the soil
  • Make sure the soil is moist but not soggy
  • Lay the plastic wrap over the top of the egg carton (creating a greenhouse effect)
  • Place the carton near a window so the seeds can grow

Gardening outside has many benefits

As the weather improves, spending time outside will help you get some exposure to the sun. Starting a garden is a good way to add sunlight, fresh air, and movement into a family’s daily routine.

The CDC says that spending time outdoors:

  • promotes mental health and stress reduction
  • improves overall health and wellness
  • stimulates production of vitamin D in the skin

Although mild exposure to the sun can have health benefits, too much can be harmful. Remember to protect your skin while outside by wearing the proper clothing and UV skin protection products.

Ways to stay protected outside:

  • use sunscreen and reapply often
  • wear a hat with a brim
  • seek shade under umbrellas or trees
  • wear sunglasses
  • wear long pants and light colors

You don’t need green space for gardening

If you don’t have lots of room at your home, that’s okay! That doesn’t mean food can’t grow.

Some plants don’t need lots of space and can be grown from a small area like a pot on the porch.

“Tomatoes are an easy plant to start with,” Hannah says. “They can be transferred from indoors to a pot and be kept in the pot even when fully grown.”

Place the pot in an area outside that has the correct amount of sunlight. The back of the seed packet will provide recommendations on how much sun to allow the plant for the best growth.

Get your kids involved in gardening

Starting a garden with children is a great way to teach them where food comes from and how to grow it themselves.

“Gardening really shows kids how long it takes to make food and where it comes from,” Hannah explains. “It also teaches them an affordable food option. All of the materials can be found at home and seeds can be bought in packs of four for a dollar.”

Home gardening is an affordable way to provide healthy and safe food for children.

How to talk to your kids about COVID-19

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