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Starting a garden in your home

Looking for a fun indoor or outdoor project for you and your family? Try starting a container garden.

Did you know you can use your SNAP Benefits to buy seeds and starter plants to grow healthy foods right at home?

Container garden“For every $1 dollar spent on seeds and fertilizer, home gardeners can grow an average of $25 worth of produce.” - USDA

Starting an indoor garden is much easier than most people think. All you need is a sunny spot near a window and a pot of some kind for your plants. It is ok to get creative with the pot you use! Plastic bags, bottles, baskets or even a pair of old shoes can work nicely for growing plants. Just be sure to put a plate or towel beneath your pot to catch any water that is not used by your plants.

Follow the steps below to learn how to grow lettuce on your own.

Step 1: Find a sunny spot indoors or outside that you think could get at least 5 hours of sunlight a day. Plants require natural sunlight to grow!

Step 2: Decide on a container for your plants! You do not need a fancy clay pot to grow healthy plants. Reusing large or small containers, like plastic bins or cleaned yogurt or sour cream packages, can save you money. Just make sure that you make  a few small holes at the bottom of whatever container you use for water to drain.

Step 3: Add soil to your pots. For some plants, you will not need to use as much soil as for others. You can find planting depth tips on seed packages for other vegetables. For example, for lettuce seeds, 1.5 - 2 inches of soil is all you need. When planting your lettuce seeds, do not bury your seeds deep beneath your potting soil. Instead, lay a pinch, or about 25 seeds, just under the top of your soil.

Step 4: After covering with soil, lightly water your seeds. Cover the top of the pot with clear plastic wrap or anything else you can use to keep your water from drying in the sunlight. Check in from time to time to make sure the top of your soil has not dried out.

Step 5: It should only take about 5-10 days for your seeds to begin to grow. You can remove the plastic covering over your pots once you have reached this step.

Step 6: Keep watering your plants, and in 3-4 weeks you should have your first fully ready lettuce cutting. Do not pull your plant out by the roots! Cut your plant at about a half inch from above your soil so it can keep growing. You should be able to cut your lettuce again around one time every two weeks.

Guidelines and tips provided by the Douglas County Health Department.

By following these steps, you can start growing food in your own home in about one month!

You can use this seasonal produce guide from the USDA to learn more about what kind of plants you can grow best based on the season.

Community Garden

A community garden is a gathering space for people that like gardening in a neighborhood or town. People rent plots of land and then plant whatever they like in their own space. If you do not have the land at home to build a garden of your own but want to do more than container gardening, joining a community garden can give you that chance.

Joining a community garden can be a fun way to make friends in your community while being active. Some community gardens are free but others can cost members a seasonal fee of $30-$40. For the cost, you get a plot of land in the garden along with soil and tools. 

A community garden can be good for teaching kids all about planning, patience, and teamwork – as well as enjoying the outdoors. Growing fruits and vegetables can make eating healthy more fun for children as well.

Check out a community garden’s rules before joining to see what you will have to do. Some gardens may ask that you help with cleaning and weeding. Others may say that you have to spend at least a few hours a week working on your plot. Some gardens may not have any rules at all! Make sure the community garden you go to is a good fit for your life. 

Visit the American Community Gardening Association’s website for a map of community gardens near where you live.

Other gardening resources
Extra resources for people that want to learn more about gardening.
Information on flowers, produce, and landscaping, with a searchable database of gardening articles, question-and-answer database, pest control library, plant care guides, weed identification information, zone finder, and more.
Links and tips for SNAP beneficiaries looking for ways to use their benefits to start a home garden.
Find more tips for container gardening as well as fact sheets for growing fruits, vegetables, and more.
See when a list of common fruits and vegetables are in season with this produce calendar.