Spring and summer are rapidly approaching Eugene (despite the recent hail storms), and there are several ways people are preparing for the upcoming months. Starting a garden in which you can grow your own food — and then cook it — is a great option for getting outside, saving money and investing in something beneficial for your health and the environment.

“I’ve wanted to start a garden for a while,” Eric Dittmore,@@http://www.uoregon.edu/findpeople/person/Eric*[email protected]@ a University senior, said. “I’m just not sure how to go about it since I live in an apartment complex.”

In Eugene, there are plenty of community gardens to be a part of, but there are also ways of starting your own private garden at home. You don’t have a backyard? Not a problem. You can grow herbs and small vegetables in your own place with great results.

“I grow my own herbs at home. They just sit in the windowsill, and I use them for almost everything when I cook,” Ashley Nyquist, a University student, said.@@http://www.uoregon.edu/findpeople/person/Ashley*[email protected]@ “It’s really easy!”

For many college students, the upkeep of a garden may seem overwhelming, but there are several tips and steps to keep the process simple and easy. A garden can be as big or as small as you need it to be, and the tips below can help you out.

1. Plan in advance. Think about the types of plants, herbs, vegetables or fruits that you would like to grow and also take into consideration the environment they will be growing in. Do you have a lot of space? Will the plants be inside or outside? How much time do you have to spend on the plants?

2. Less is more. It’s better to start with a small amount of plants and be wanting more than to plant too many seeds and be overwhelmed by mid-summer. If you are already a busy person, make sure to consider how much time you have to spend on these plants.

3. Research your plants. Do you want to have plants you can eat? Flowers you can look at? Understand everything about the plants you choose to grow: how many times a day they need to be watered, how much sunlight they need and any additional care as well.

4. Complement your plants. If you are starting out small, choose plants that will grow well with one another. In certain instances, plants will struggle to grow when planted in the same soil as some other plants. (So, do your research!)

5. Have fun! Having a garden should be something that you find useful but also enjoyable. When planning a garden, make sure it’s something you find interesting. Taking care of plants is a simple and easy process if you do it correctly.

There are many things to take into consideration when planting your own garden. Not only can it be extremely beneficial to your health and your wallet, but it can also benefit the environment.

According to Diane Rehn of NPR@@http://www.npr.org/people/2101067/diane-rehm@@ News, “Individual and community gardens are also extremely beneficial for the environment and can reduce your carbon footprint and the rate of global warming significantly.”

For those of you who are looking to help the environment — even in small ways — this is a step in the right direction.

When thinking about starting your own garden, take into consideration the five steps above. Then just have fun with it! Gardening is meant to be something you enjoy while also being something extremely valuable.

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