Campus Life

How to Grow a Green Thumb

by Kristen McDonald

Farms are not an uncommon sight while living in the Midwest, but you don’t have to live on a farm to grow a garden. Growing a mini garden in your dorm room is easier than you think.   Katelyn Doyle’s 2011 article, “How to Grow a Mini Garden in Your Dorm Room” states that the five essentials of any garden include:

  1. the plant
  2. its containment
  3. sunlight
  4. soil
  5. water source

Seeds can be found anywhere from the dollar store to the local grocery store, especially this time of year.  There are also ways to regrow store-bought vegetables such as celery and onion. There is no need to buy a dozen terra cotta pots.  Old k-cup containers or rinsed soup cans work well to start sprouting any kind of herb or vegetation. If the container does not have a draining hole on the bottom, Doyle suggests putting a layer of gravel on the bottom of the container, so the plant does not rot.  Most plants can be planted any time during the year, especially when planted inside. Just be sure to have a nice sunny window space for plants to settle and be able to grow. Doyle encourages students to use any dirt from outside as long as it is from private property.  She even suggests using the contents of tea bags as a cheap fertilizer for plants, as tea bags contain nutrient rich spices and tea leaves. Be sure to water the plant only when the top layer of dirt is not saturated with water. Often there are instructions on the back of seed packages, but it is always easy to Google how often certain plants should be watered.

As the summer approaches, a garden outgrowing an indoor location can be moved outside.  According to the Harvard Health Publishing article “Backyard Gardening: Grow Your Own Food, Improve Your Health” by Heidi Godman in 2012, there are many benefits to growing your own food.  For instance, according to Godman’s study, after working hard to grow food, people tend to savor their harvested plants more. Growing a garden also often involves physical activity, eating healthier, and learning more about the sources of food in ways most people never learn about.  Godman recommends that if someone is interested in growing a garden, they should start small, such as an indoor garden space, and pick plants that a person already enjoys. She also recommends checking out the book “American Grown” and seeing ways the American Community Gardening Association is active in the local community to find support in growing a garden.

Whether big or small, growing a garden can be rewarding and beneficial.