Summer has finally arrived and it couldn’t have come soon enough. Despite spring feeling mostly like winter and the month of March lasting for what seemed like half a year, the latter half of May has delivered on some exceptional weather. The baking phenomenon that comforted many through the long and unusually cruel first few months of the ‘new normal’ is gradually being phased out by the comforts that only tilling the soil can bring. Many have already planted their gardens and are starting to see their efforts grow, but there are others who are late to the party and this blog is for them. No matter what size your outdoor space is, you really should be growing something this season for several reasons.

Gardening is good for your health.

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It reduces stress, burns calories, and according to some studies can reduce the risk of stroke and dementia as well. Unusual times call for the cultivation of new habits, so whether you plant something every year or struggle to keep succulents alive, this is your year to step it up in the garden. We could all use some healthy habits, so why not make tending to a garden and helping something grow to its potential one of them?

Our outdoor spaces will be our sanctuaries this year, so why not make them beautiful? I spend a great deal of time on my 5×10 balcony and though I only have room for a few of them, potted plants make all the difference. I find I enjoy them as much inside as I do when I’m outside for how much they improve my view, though you’ll likely spend more time outside when you have plants to tend to. From taking in their beauty to studying their growth like a proud parent, if for no other reason you should plant something just for the enjoyment of seeing it grow. If you have a favorite public patio in the city from years past, consider why you liked spending time there. I bet it had something to do with the atmosphere and the way it looked. Sure, delicious drinks and food undoubtedly had something to do with it too, but most of my favourites had walls of ivy and garden boxes galore. While I can’t replicate them exactly, I CAN make a mean Aperol Spritz and sip it on my own patio surrounded by blossoms. Given the year it’s been, I’ll take what I can get.

Consider planting a vegetable garden.

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If flowers aren’t your thing, why not reap the rewards of growing something you can eat? Many vegetables and herbs will grow just as well in pots as in flowerbeds so you need not worry about having endless amounts of space.

  • Tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers grow like weeds and love full sun and all can easily be grown in pots or rectangular planters when spaced and watered properly.
  • Herbs such as chives, thyme, rosemary, or sage are all hearty and you’ll be amazed at the speed at which they’ll grow.

Or some flowers.

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If you’re keen for some colour but have a less than stellar track record keeping plants alive, consider some of the following hearty blooms:

  • Snapdragons– for their variety of colours, height, and heartiness.
  • Lavender– for its fragrant scent and classic beauty.
  • Geraniums– hearty and nostalgic because who didn’t grow up with these planted in their front yards?
  • Petunias– a classic bloom that grows like a weed, can take sun or shade and isn’t overly thirsty.

If you’re late to the planting party you may want to buy plants instead of planting from seed, but that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy their beauty or watching them grow any less. As some of the earliest shops to open, garden centers are the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon and do some retail therapy, while sporting your face mask and applying hand sanitizer like sunscreen on your hands of course. Most communities have convenience stores that double as garden centers every spring and it’s been my experience that their products, if perhaps a little more expensive, are every bit as good or better than the stuff you’ll find at the big box stores. You’ll likely experience far less waiting in a spaced out line up as well and will be supporting the businesses that need it most. Jump on the new bread baking bandwagon that is gardening and beautify your summer sanctuary with some plants.

Written by: Kiel Storms. To read more about him, click here. 

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