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Growing Food In Orland Park Can Be Done In Container Gardens

Patch logo Patch 5/14/2021 Nikki Gaskins
a bowl of food: Fruits, vegetables and spices such as basil, chives and thyme are among the healthy food items that can be grown from the inside of a gardening pot like the one shown here. © Liana Messina/Patch Fruits, vegetables and spices such as basil, chives and thyme are among the healthy food items that can be grown from the inside of a gardening pot like the one shown here.

ORLAND PARK, IL — Growing your own food in Orland Park doesn’t always mean a vast yard or gardening surface is needed. Ways to reduce one’s “food print” — what it takes for food to make it from the farm to your plate — and save money are possible anywhere as long as containers are around, gardening experts have said.

Container gardening is an affordable way Orland Park residents struggling to put food on their tables during the pandemic can add vegetables to the table. An estimated 42 million Americans have experienced food insecurity during the pandemic, including many people in Cook County, where local food banks saw a 13.7 percent increase in demand in 2020.

Salad leaves, radishes, tomatoes and bell peppers are among the many healthy foods that can be grown in pots, a video from the Old Farmer’s Almanac shows.

While all fruits and vegetables grow differently, they all require good soil, proper sunlight and the right amount of water, the Old Farmer’s Almanac says.

“In addition to providing 5 hours or more of full sun, watering is critical,” the guide states.

Container gardens can also give the extra spice for heartier meals.

Basil, chives and thyme are among the other herbs that “are quite happy growing in pots,” Good Housekeeping wrote while offering tips for container gardening.

Making use of what space is available can be a challenge, however, so using windowsills and hanging baskets can go a long way to provide room for more containers.

Growing anything in a container can be thought of as “a piece of art you can make in a container,” Joan Murray, a professional gardener and container gardening specialist for more than 20 years, told Patch.

“You can make up your own rules, and do it to appease yourself,” said Murray, a co-owner of the City Grange gardening center, which has two locations in Chicago.

Tomatoes, peppers and broccoli are among the plants that grow well in Orland Park, according to the University of Illinois. However, pay attention to your hardiness zone, which help determine what plants are most likely to thrive at a location; Orland Park finds itself in zone 5b.

The 2021 gardening season is expected to be busy, as was the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdown orders. The pandemic led to a “global gardening boom,” according to a 2020 report from Agriculture Week, as seed companies saw unprecedented interest.

Burpee Seed Co. sold more seeds in March 2020, when the pandemic began, than any other month in its 144-year history, Agriculture Week reported, and Johnny’s Selected Seed notched a 270 percent increase in sales during the 2020 gardening season.

Related On Patch: When Frost Danger Passes — See When It’s Safe To Begin Spring Gardening

The brisk seed sales don’t just reflect an interest in a pastime that makes social distancing easy. Experts say gardening is therapeutic.

“There are certain very stabilizing forces in gardening that can ground us when we are feeling shaky, uncertain and terrified,” Rutgers University professor Joel Flagler told Agriculture Week. “It’s these predictable outcomes and predictable rhythms of the garden that are very comforting right now.”

Even before the pandemic, mental health experts pointed to gardening as a way to deal with stress.

Gardening provides physical exercise and promotes healthier eating, but it can also reduce worry among people who consider themselves perfectionists, psychologist Seth Gillihan said.

“Given the lack of control we have, gardening can be a good antidote for perfectionism,” Gillihan wrote in a 2019 Psychology Today blog. “No matter how carefully you plan and execute your garden, there are countless factors you can't predict — invasions by bugs, inclement weather, hungry rodents."

With so many things out of their control, perfectionism is a waste of time, he said, so gardeners may ask themselves “why bother” trying to be perfect.

When gardening with a container, perfection may still be unattainable, but the gardener certainly has more control.

Murray suggests the age-old “thriller, filler and spiller” method when planning one.

The “thriller,” she said, is the “focal point that draws eyes,” with the “filler” as the mid-range plants that go around the thriller, and the “spiller” as something like ivy that will run down the front of the pot.

“That’s not the only way to be successful, but if you follow that, you are going to have success,” she said.

© Provided by Patch

Patch has partnered with Feeding America to help raise awareness on behalf of the millions of Americans facing hunger. Feeding America, which supports 200 food banks across the country, estimates that in 2021, about 42 million Americans may not have enough nutritious food to eat due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a Patch social good project; Feeding America receives 100 percent of donations. Find out how you can donate in your community or find a food pantry near you.

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