Garden Season: Invest wisely

I had a garden last year like I have most of the past 20-plus years. I’ve never been a GREAT gardener, but I’ve enjoyed having some fresh produce that I grew myself. Last year was extremely disappointing, however — very little to harvest. Somewhere along the line I realized that I had skipped the step of adding fertilizer to the soil. I knew better too – I had learned that lesson early on.

I was disappointed to have so little produce, of course, but mostly I was disgusted with myself for investing the time, energy and money (for plants/seeds and for watering) without taking the simple extra step that would have made my efforts pay off. One careless oversight made most of my investment go to waste.

You can bet I’m going to be smarter this year. I will make sure to fertilize as recommended. For those of us who are not already gardening experts, good information is the key to having our investments pay off. There are many sources of information – some provide trustworthy information while others are just passing on rumors or trying to sell a product. Evaluate the source of any information you use as you plan, plant, and tend your garden this summer. One source of information you know you can trust is Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Check out our Horticulture and Home Pest News site for a wealth of information to meet your needs. It includes an encyclopedia, with topics alphabetically, along with a “browse by topic” section, a search function and more.

Happy gardening!

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

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SNAP Garden

tomato plantSNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program —  that’s the Federal name for the program that in Iowa is called Food Assistance, and used to be known as Food Stamps.  For families struggling to make ends meet, SNAP not only reduces hunger, but also improves nutrition and health.  Having a little extra to spend on food makes it possible to buy fruits and vegetables, dairy products, whole grains and other nutritionally valuable foods, rather than just filling up on whatever food provides the cheapest source of calories.

This time of year it’s good to be reminded that SNAP benefits can also be used to buy food-producing seeds and plants.  If you have space for a garden, you can plant some green beans, spinach, squash, or other vegetables or herbs.  Even those without a garden space can grow tomatoes and peppers (and perhaps other produce too) in containers on a back step or balcony.

Need information about gardening?  ISU Extension and Outreach has a Hortline (Horticulture Hot Line) at 515-294-3108 with information available by phone and links to other information on-line.  The national Extension site provides horticulture information as well.

Barb Wollan

Barb Wollan's goal as a Family Finance program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is to help people use their money according to THEIR priorities. She provides information and tools, and then encourages folks to focus on what they control: their own decisions about what to do with the money they have.

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