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National Gardening Month 

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It's time to dust off your spade, sharpen your lawnmower blades and get back into the garden. Each April, citizens across the U.S. celebrate National Gardening Month. The National Gardening Association (NGA) estimates that more than 70 percent of Americans garden, whether it's indoor or out. And the number of gardeners rises when the economy slows. It's not only a way to let off some stress, it's also good for your health and your outlook on life.

There are many ways to celebrate gardening, even if you don't have a yard. Growing plants and veggies in your apartment or condo is as easy as putting containers in your sunniest window and watching them grow. Or join a community garden. While many plots in these gardens may have already been sowed, at times, interest in these gardens can dissipate midway through the season. It's worth checking in throughout the season to see if they have any openings. There's SEEDS in Durham, Carrboro Community Garden Coalition in Carrboro, Northside Community Garden in Chapel Hill, Anathoth Community Garden in Cedar Grove and the Covenant Community Garden in Fuquay-Varina—to name just a few.

If you have a backyard, you don't have to go far to celebrate National Gardening Month. Buy or build a rain barrel while we still are getting some rain. It seems like we've just gotten out of our drought, but during our prime gardening months, we often get little rain. Water collected in rain barrels can be used to hydrate plants and lower your water bills. Growing your own food is a good way to keep grocery bills low while the cost of food is going up. The NGA estimates that more than 36 million households grow food each year, with an average plot size of 600 square feet. The produce grown in gardens of this size can save more than $600 in groceries; overall, that's $21.6 billion of food grown by American households.

Just be careful when planting seedlings outdoors. While we have passed the last average frost date, young plants still need to be covered up in a cold snap. And remember, it's a celebration, so have fun.

More by Kelly Behling

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