Gardening in College

Whether or not you have a green thumb, you might be interested in starting or working in a garden this year. When you’re in college, it might seem a bit tricky to try and grow flowers or vegetables—particularly with everything you have going on. There’s also the question of how to practically go about it. Dorm rooms can be quite small, and if you don’t have access to a garden plot, how will you have room to grow things?

There are a few creative ways you can make the most of your situation and still grow some new life around you. If you’re interested in fresh vegetables or the beauty of flowers, gardening is the way to go!

1. Check and see if your campus has a garden

Some colleges have agriculture and farming programs, and if that’s the case, there’s sure to be areas where things grow. Check and see if there are gardens that students can contribute to, how things are monitored, and if it’s possible to get involved. Some campuses even have greenhouses, and you’ll be able to get some expert advice from the students and faculty who spend a lot of their time there.

At the very least, your college or university might have a simple garden plot on site where you can reserve a bit of land to grow your goods.

2. Grow a dorm-room garden

Depending on how big your dorm room or apartment is, you could consider an indoor garden. Yes, these gardens are quite a bit smaller, so you’ll have to be smart about what you plant and how much of it you plant, but it’s definitely possible! Gathering a collection of pots to plant different flowers and vegetables in can also be considered a small garden.

Check with your roommates, of course, before you get started. If your room is small, an indoor garden might take up precious space. If there’s room, and if your roommates are okay with you using the radiator or windowsill as your “garden plot,” you could certainly have a very successful little garden for yourself. If you water your plants regularly and make sure they get lots of sun through your window, you should start seeing little plants poke through the dirt in no time.

3. Start small with plants on your windowsill or patio

If you don’t feel like doing a whole collection of pots and containers in front of your window, consider starting small. If your schedule is a bit crazy, and you don’t have time to tend plants, choosing one or two choice plants to nurture and grow over the semester can be a great place to start. If you need some ideas, try growing an herb or two that you often use in your cooking, or try growing a small strawberry plant.

If you have a patio, you might have room for a few more pots, which gives you the opportunity to experiment with a variety of different plants. Flowers are always a welcome sight in a home, so if you don’t want to tend vegetables, consider some easy flowers.

4. Contribute to a community garden 

There’s something really satisfying about working toward a common goal with a group of people. Most cities have a variety of community gardens where you can reserve a plot. If you’re not sure where to start, try searching your city + community garden online. Another option is to connect with your university and see if they have on resources on nearby community gardens. If you’re still having trouble finding a community garden, check with the city you live in and see if they can point you in the right direction.

According to Greenleaf Communities, “Community gardens:

  • Help improve air and soil quality
  • Increase biodiversity of plants and animals
  • Reduce “food miles” that are required to transport nutritious food
  • Can replace impervious structures and improve water infiltration
  • Can reduce neighborhood waste through composting
  • Positively impact the urban micro-climate
  • Increase access to fresh foods
  • Improve food security
  • Increase physical activity through garden maintenance activities
  • Improve dietary habits through education
  • Increase fruit and vegetable intake
  • Reduce risk of obesity and obesity-related diseases
  • Improve mental health and promote relaxation”

As you can see, there are a whole host of positive impacts that come gardening.