Grow Anything: 18 Ways to Plant the Seeds for a Happier Life
—Belee Nguyen, second-grade teacher in Sacramento
When Gene "Mac' McComas, 76, a former steelworker, saw his neighbor Denise Thompson, 48, a consultant, trying to grow tomatoes in her small yard, he invited her to the garden, saying, "I'm gonna make a farmer out of you yet!" In 2011 McComas retired from growing to care for his ailing wife and handed down his plot to Thompson; she now drops beets, garlic, and potatoes on her "adopted parents'" doorstep. McComas, meanwhile, "comes by the garden to tell me what to do!" says Thompson.
When Robin Stevens, 43, was briefly homeless in 2006, she parked her car in the garden at night, and McComas loaned her gas money to keep the heat on. Now she grows a thriving peach tree: "Anyone can pick it, as long as you don't step on my dahlias," she says.
Michael Mishaga, 51, a graphic artist, leads the charge against cucumber beetles ("Denise and I introduced beneficial nematodes [i.e., microscopic roundworms]; that season I had a bumper crop of pickles!"), and, after hours, to a local brewery.
John Yokie, 62, a refugee from Liberia, was delighted to find a place where Burmese, Italians, and Africans swap soil secrets ("It's like the United Nations!"). When he planted too early, Mishaga swooped in to help him navigate Cleveland's climate.
Kauser Razvi, 39, a strategic planner with two kids, learned to garden from Mishaga, who now attends her alfresco "family" dinners, at which salad is picked right from the vine. "The garden is a magical place for us," she says.
—Jenny Rosenstratch, author of Dinner: A Love Story
5 more pieces of parenting advice
1. Find a climate-friendly variety. Live in the Northeast? Choose a hardier flower like the Griffith Buck rose, which can withstand cooler temps. Those in the South and West may be better off planting varieties like Belinda's Dream or Cherry Parfait—they're specifically bred to be resistant to diseases that are prevalent in humid regions. (For more flower options, see rose.org/regions-choice.)
2. Choose the best planting site. "Some roses are tall and skinny, some are low and scrawny, some are single stem, and others become full shrubs, so you'll want to pick one with a growth habit that's right for the space you have, whether it's along your patio wall or in a single pot," says Kukielski. No matter what type of roses you plant, they'll require at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. The more sun they get, the more bountiful your bouquet.
3. Triple-layer the soil. With a prepotted rose, dig a hole about 15 inches deep and 18 inches wide. Then mix roughly three inches of organically rich matter (like compost, composted manure, or roughly chopped leaves) with the soil and spread it in the hole. Place the base of your rose in the hole and fill it back up with soil so that the bud union—the knobby part of the stem base—is about even with or just below ground level. Sprinkle three inches of mulch around the rose. The mulch will decompose and provide nutrients the plant needs to grow strong, says Kukielski. Water regularly and get ready to watch beauty bloom.
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Grow it: Pour pesticide-free soil into a drainable container and plant the seeds (available at most pet stores) a half inch below the surface. Place the box near a window for maximum sunlight; water lightly. Once the shoots reach three to four inches, let your cat graze guilt-free.
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5 easy ways to improve your brain
—John Gottman, PhD, relationship expert
Your nails are made of the protein keratin, and studies have shown that taking supplements of this B vitamin may improve the strength and thickness of weak nails. For best results, you need at least 2.5 milligrams daily, says NYC–based dermatologist Lenora Felderman, MD. Expect to see progress in three to six months—the average length of time it takes for a new nail to grow in.
—Violet Palmer, one of the NBA's only female referees, who was once told to "go back to the kitchen" by a sports radio broadcaster
Read how Rita started her hops farm
A few days later, a package arrived. I opened it to find a beautiful green stalk sprouting several glossy emerald leaves. My first thought: It was the dead of winter in Manhattan—how would I keep this thing alive? But caring for the little tree proved easy; all it needed was water and a warm windowsill.
When it blossomed—white waxy stars with sunshine yellow centers whose sugar and honeysuckle scent my daughter and I gulped in by the lungful—our cramped apartment felt transformed. Encouraged, I hung pictures on the walls, bought new sheets and pillows, and even ventured out to meet a few neighbors.
The flowers dropped off in early March, leaving in their place tiny green lemons. In the months that followed all but one of those dropped off, too. The lone survivor grew and grew, bending the whole diminutive plant under its weight. We harvested our enormous lemon in August. It was sweet enough to eat whole, like an orange, but instead we made a small, delicious batch of lemonade that we drank on our stoop in the late-summer sun.
—Lara Kristin Herndon
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