Mia Gallucci: Growing a Green Thumb

Fostering new hobbies may look different for everyone. For me, this included starting a food garden in the backyard of my home. Starting from seed and over time watching our plants bloom has made gardening an exciting part of my routine!  Baby plants growing in a raised bed garden

In the spring, my husband and I built and installed raised garden beds in our backyard.  Our garden consists of strawberries, lettuce, green beans, broccoli and several varieties of peppers and tomatoes. While some of these plants thrived, others did not. These learning moments along the way were great reminders that gardening requires plenty of trial and error!

Specifically, our broccoli plant struggled over the summer months and ultimately withered away, while our tomatoes and peppers thrived and left us with harvest after harvest of bright, fresh food.

We also ran into the struggle of keeping critters out of our garden which resulted in many trips to the hardware store and ultimately, full enclosures around our raised beds. Despite the occasional challenges, we found so much enjoyment from the consistency and patience that gardening requires.  

Benefits of gardening

Gardening can bring a host of benefits that are not only delicious, but healthy for the body and soul!  Pepper plant

Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and fiber that support a well-balanced diet and overall health. Additionally, many report feelings of relaxation by spending time in gardens, which is evidenced by the common implementation of therapeutic gardens in healthcare, therapeutic and rehabilitative settings.  

Looking to add movement to your routine? Gardening and yard work is classified as a moderate-intensity level activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Further, engaging in a regular schedule of physical activity can reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, improve brain health and help manage weight. 

canned vegetablesThe benefits of gardening can extend to your wallet as well. If you are looking to save on your next grocery bill or at the florist, growing your own produce or flowers can be a fun and unique solution. We planned our meals using the fresh food from the garden we had on hand. In several instances, we found ourselves with an overabundance of tomatoes or peppers. We took this opportunity to share with our friends and family, as well as can our leftover tomatoes. Canning is a great way to preserve produce for later seasons and enjoy our harvest year-round!

Getting started

Whether you are an experienced gardener or don’t consider yourself to have a “green thumb,” gardening can be accomplished in many ways.  

Basket of tomatoesIf you don’t have space or resources where you live to create a flower or food garden, consider finding a local community garden. Community gardens are a great way to meet others interested in gardening and learn tips and tricks along the way. Another way to express your “green thumb” is by assisting a neighbor or relative that needs their yard cleaned up during the change of seasons. This could include pulling weeds, laying mulch, or raking leaves. Gardening for another person is a great way to beautify an area as well as help someone out who could use the assistance.  

If you are interested in planting a garden, try considering the location. Does the space receive full or partial sun? Is the soil sand-like or more clay-like? What season will you be planting in? These factors will all have an impact on what plants will flourish.  

Contrary to popular belief, summertime is not the only time of year during which you can plant and harvest local produce. Check out the Michigan Harvest Calendar and this guide In Season: Pick From These 52 Fruits and Veggies when determining what you’d like to grow!  

There are a ton of great options for a garden besides fruit and vegetables. You can bring color and life to your outdoor space with flowers, especially those that support pollinators such as honeybees. Check out more information on local efforts to support honeybees in the metro Detroit community.  

Interested in learning more about gardening? Check out our AHM Podcast episode How to Get Your Garden Ready for Spring with guest Sue Hudnut, president of the Master Gardeners Association of Northwest Michigan. 

Stay tuned

Over the next few months, I will continue to challenge myself to shake up my daily routine and packing our lives with new activities, hobbies, and passions. Follow along for where my adventures will take me next! 

Opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or its subsidiaries and affiliates. 

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Photo credits: Mia Gallucci

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