Though it’s March here in Minnesota, minds (and hopes) can’t help but look ahead to this year’s gardens.  This of course leads to the peak in Canning Season™ here in the northern hemisphere.  It’s been a long, cold, snowy winter.  The anticipation grows!

It turns out that gardening is America’s third-leading leisure activity, with annual sales of $40 billion.  It’s no wonder.  Gardening is fun, easy, rewarding, and potentially, money-saving (if you do it right, that is).

It’s also an activity that anybody can take up at any point in their lives.  You can also garden almost anywhere there’s soil, sun and water.

For me, I’ve found gardening was made easier when I started with a few items like tomatoes, cucumbers, raspberries, and beets.  These are all things I love – and they are easy to grow.  Given the great success I had with my new raised bed garden last season, the possibilities appear endless!

Gardening, like home canning, is a great example of having to spend money to save money.  Gardening is a process–and it starts with good soil and good plant material such as starter plants or seeds.  I’ve learned through the years to do a combination of seeds and starter plants.  I buy them either through Burpee (affilaite link) or locally.  In future posts I’ll talk more about the particulars of what I grow from seed versus starter plants.

If you think about, gardening and everything related to it, is an excellent family bonding activity that children will enjoy.  My dog Philly also loves spending time “helping” me in the garden.  Ok, she isn’t exactly helping when she sticks her snout into a freshly planted mound of dirt or creates paw prints across a newly-turned section but I don’t let it bother me.  I view it as all part of the natural rhythm.

Speaking of rhythms, when you involve children in gardening (and canning later on) you are positively exposing and connecting them to the real cycles of life and the natural world.  This is a nice offset to the incessant pings, text messages, and Facebook updates of the virtual world which come all too soon it seems.

In addition, I’ve found gardening is a wonderful way for clearing you head when working alone.  It offers a space for quiet intimacy between couples.  But I will admit, there’s also something to be said about sharing the joy of what I’m trying to grow with family and friends.

So what are you planning to grow this year?  Leave you comments below or in the Canning Season forum.