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Growing Food and Flowers in Small Plots

By Sandy Schroeder

Some of us have been gardening forever, and others are just discovering how great growing things can be. My mother was an accomplished gardener and I learned a lot helping her. Then my older son caught the bug and started raising prize-winning tomatoes.

I followed them because I love homegrown tomatoes and fresh spinach and lettuce. If you can relate, you might want to give it a try. One of the big surprises turns out to be just how much tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, artichokes, and flowers can be grown in a small 200-square foot plot.

I was reminded of this recently when I read about the small plots being used in an Orange County, Calif., senior housing complex. As they coped with ongoing issues, many of these seniors started using the small plots that are available in their complex as 200-square foot spaces.


Along with an abundant supply of fresh produce and lovely flowers, the seniors also shared a new sense of community as veteran gardeners helped newcomers get started. One senior couple, who have a tree plot for apples and oranges and a garden plot to grow vegetables, said the gardens are a great way to stay fit and boost one's spirits. The garden work turned out to be a very satisfying daily effort.

Residents are required to maintain their own plots without subleasing. Maintenance includes weeding, watering and harvesting. Often residents will pitch in and help each other when needed. As expected, the waiting list for plots has grown. Plots are assigned on a first-come first-served basis.

If this sounds like fun for you and your family, think about the area that you have and what you might like to grow. Backyards can blossom into full-blown gardens with roses, tomatoes, spinach, carrots, oregano, parsley and lettuce. Pick whatever pleases you. 

If you are limited to a patio or balcony and windowsills, you can still get special planters and pots to fit and grow herbs such as dill, rosemary, basil or oregano, cherry tomatoes, spinach or more flowers and cacti.

Sometimes going online or taking a walk around your neighborhood can inspire your picks. Calling your local nursery for advice works too.

Several families that I know have gotten into gardening and they all recommend it. In fact, we have benefited from their extra zucchini and tomatoes. One mom says the garden has proven to be a wonderful spot to help her enjoy a little quiet and regain her balance. Another neighbor says her garden provides needed daily exercise.

However it works out for you, enjoy.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Lincoln, Nebr.

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