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Get out and garden for National Garden Month

Publish Date
Backyard garden in Spokane Washington

By Adrian Melendez
NRCS-WA Public Affairs

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. - As spring arrives, many people turn their attention to their gardens. April is National Garden Month, a time to celebrate the joys of gardening and the many benefits it provides.

Gardening offers numerous physical and mental health benefits. Research has shown that spending time in nature can lower stress levels and boost mood. Gardening can also provide a low-impact form of exercise, helping to build strength and endurance.

In addition to its health benefits, gardening can also be a source of fresh, nutritious produce. Homegrown fruits and vegetables are


often more flavorful and nutrient-dense than store-bought varieties, making them a great addition to any diet. Plus, gardening can help reduce food waste and lower grocery bills.

Kaiza Jones, Soil Conservation Technician in Okanogan, has been gardening off and on for most of her life and agrees with the health and flavor benefits when it comes to growing some of your own produce in a home garden.

“Besides the fact it gets me outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, I started small, growing my own food for the freshness and availability of it,” Kaiza said. “Then our interests expanded to include health, to eat more organic and avoid modified foods (GMOs) and to counter the surge of food prices.”

Kaiza started mainly growing bush beans and tomatoes but has since expanded to include peppers, eggplant, corn, potatoes and sweet potatoes, herbs, greens, carrots, onions, radishes, lima beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, winter squash, blackberries, and raspberries, with plans to expand more to include garlic, blueberries, and strawberries.   

While the varieties of fresh produce Kaiza and her family are growing sound like they require a huge plot of land with lots of space, Kaiza said it comes down to making do with the space you have.

Close up of hands planting seeds in starter tray

“We have a standard lot in town, but that is no excuse not to use the little space we have, after all, it’s still space,” she said.  “We converted two flowerbeds, added two raised beds, and tore out a good part of our backyard to plant veggies. Our patio is also often speckled with pots of herbs and other produce.”   

She also added she has a friend just outside her town that has lent her a small portion of their land to grow the crops that take up a lot of real-estate, like watermelon, squash, and cantaloupe.
Gardening also has environmental benefits. Planting a garden can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by absorbing carbon dioxide. Gardens can also help to provide habitat for pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which are essential for the health of ecosystems.

Whether you have a large backyard or a small balcony, there are many ways to get involved.

Start small. If you're new to gardening, start with a small container garden or a few easy-to-grow plants.
Choose the right plants. Consider factors such as sunlight, soil type, and climate when selecting plants for your garden.

Washington has varied hardiness zones across the state. The northeastern part of the state is where you will find zones 4a through 6a. The central and southern sections of the eastern two-thirds of the state are in zones 6 and 7. In the western third of the state, temperatures transition in zones 8 and 9. Knowing what types of plants thrive in what zones can save you a lot of time and headaches. You can find your zone on the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map here.

Plan ahead. Take the time to plan out your garden before you start planting. Consider factors such as spacing, water needs, and the timing of planting.

Get the right tools. Investing in the right tools can make gardening much easier and more enjoyable.

Involve others. Gardening can be a fun and rewarding activity to share with friends and family. Consider starting a community garden or hosting a gardening party.

“Start small,” Kaiza said as advice for those thinking about getting into gardening. “Whether it’s one or two varieties, or converting a flowerbed to garden produce, it will keep you from getting overwhelmed and you can still learn so much.”

She continued, “Then you can expand from there as time, ability and resources allows. And don’t be afraid to experiment. How else will you learn? If something didn’t work or could be done differently, there’s always next year.”

During this National Garden Month, take the opportunity to get outside and start gardening. There are many ways to get involved and enjoy the many benefits of this rewarding activity no matter if you’re just starting out or have established your green thumb over the years of gardening.

Hardiness Zone map for Washington state










Gardening Resources