A Year of Drops: Start a Garden

by Katie LaFond

Step 8: Start a Garden

Your own yard is the most local food possible!

  • Inside: put containers (pots, window boxes) in your southern facing windows. Herbs and small things like carrots and bush beans work well.
  • Your local garden center can help you learn how to care for your plants. Consider your soil and make sure it has enough drainage.
  • Outside you have a lot of options. You can make your garden as complicated or simple as
    Photo by Irene Kightley, used under a Creative Commons License

    Photo by Irene Kightley, used under a Creative Commons License

    you’d like. Start small, add to it each year, educate yourself, read lots of books and ask for help.

  • You can have your soil tested for contaminants cheaply, usually through your local university extension center.  In Massachusetts, UMass does this.
  • Container gardens can be a great option for those in condos or apartments. These can be in or outside, and depending on the size of your container, can be as simple or complex as you’d like.
  • Rooftop gardens are quickly catching on in the city. Community gardens are also popular.
  • Start with easy to grow items: beans, tomatoes, carrots, garlic, and squash like zucchini and butternut.
  • Plant bee- and butterfly-friendly plants like milkweed, bee balm, black-eyed susans and sunflowers to keep your local bee populations fed and healthy
  • Buyer beware: pesticides are sometimes present in plants you can buy. Last year I was dismayed to learn that there were plants for purchase at a large popular store that kill bees when they visit them. Visit a local garden center where you can talk to an expert and get ideas. It might be a little more expensive in the moment, but well worth it in the long run.


This is part nine in Katie’s thirteen-part series on how to walk lightly on the Earth.  Read more: introduction, step 1 (recycle), step 2 (reuse), step 3 (reduce), step 4 (compost), step 5 (drive less), step 6 (local food), step 7 (buy local).

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