Home Gardening Tips

What You Can Learn from a Woman in Rural Bangladesh

Spring is in the air and what better way to jumpstart the season than to plant your own home garden?  Not only does gardening allow opportunities to enjoy the fresh air and sunlight, but by summer your whole family can enjoy a variety of fresh, locally sourced, nutritious fruits and vegetables. In gardens around the world, women like Lily, a young mother living in rural Bangladesh, are learning how to grow fresh produce as a dependable source of healthy food and extra income for their families, thanks to Helen Keller International’s Homestead Food Production program.  After participating in the program, Lily now feeds her husband and two-year-old daughter nutritious meals made from the seven varieties of vegetables they grow right in their own backyard. Here are a few helpful tips we shared with Lily that will help you plant your own home garden.

1.  Make your garden your own.

Don’t have a lot of space?  Find creative ways to use the space that you do have. Try growing a garden on your roof, growing smaller plants in window boxes or joining your local community garden.   

2.  Change up your crops.

Growing different types of fruits and vegetables during different times of year, also known as crop rotation, helps replenish the nutrients of your soil, keeping it fertile.  This gives you lots of healthy choices for meals, too!  Don’t forget to learn about your local growing seasons and what grows best in your climate so you will know which seeds to plant and when.

3.  Reap the benefits of what you sow.

Gain the most nutrients, and the best taste, from your fruits and vegetables by eating them raw. Make sure you wash them, but don’t over wash as some nutrients (like vitamins B and C) will dissolve in water.  Since many nutrients exist in the skin of a fruit or vegetable, only peel your produce when necessary.  When cooking leafy greens, which are filled with Vitamin A and Zinc, use a small amount of water and only cook for a short amount of time to retain the most nutrients possible.  Don’t overcook your vegetables and avoid cooking fruit when possible. 

4.  Get the whole family involved.

Gardening is a great family activity that can help everyone enjoy being together outdoors. Ask your children what vegetables and fruits they would like to plant and let them help you plant the seeds.  Of course, extra hands watering, weeding, and in the kitchen can be a big help. Involving your whole family in the gardening process can bring your family together – and get everyone to eat their veggies.

5.  Share in the spirit.

You can plant gardens around the world by supporting organizations that help families living in high poverty communities cultivate home gardens, like Helen Keller International.  Through our Homestead Food Production program, we teach women living in some of the most vulnerable communities in Africa and Asia how to feed their families and supplement their incomes with healthy fruits and vegetables, grown in their own backyards and farms. Visit www.hki.org to learn more.

Capture the spirit of spring, spend time outdoors and bring your family together by planting your own home garden; and enjoy reaping what you sow all summer long.  Happy Gardening!

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About Us

Founded in 1915 by Helen Keller and George Kessler, the mission of Helen Keller International (HKI) is to save the sight and lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. HKI combats the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition by establishing programs based on evidence and research in vision, health and nutrition. Headquartered in New York City, HKI’s programs prevent blindness and reduce malnutrition in 21 countries in Africa and Asia, as well as in the United States.

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Quick facts

Cooking tips from @HelenKellerIntl: Cook green leaves in small amounts of water for a short time to retain nutrients.
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Gardening tips from @HelenKellerIntl: Short on space? Grow a rooftop garden or join a community garden!
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Gardening tips from @HelenKellerIntl: Change up your crops to add balance to nutrition & variety to your diet.
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Gardening tips from @HelenKellerIntl: Get the whole family involved in planning & planting your home garden.
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Quotes

Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.
Helen Keller