Thanks to summer fruits and veggies—strawberries, watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes— eating healthy during bikini weather seems much simpler than when you’re bundled up in layers, craving comfort foods, and anything you hold up in the veggie section looks sadly anemic, or, even if the produce looks pretty, lacks taste. Unfortunately, even during the summer, when veggies are in season, they’re often shipped such long distances that by the time they get to your table, they’ve lost a lot of those good-for-you nutrients.
But what’s great is that those yummy summer tomatoes and crispy cucumbers are incredibly easy to grow. (Yes, even you, Miss I-Even-Managed-to-Suck-the-Life-Out-of-the-Bamboo-Plant-in-My-Cubicle can grow a tomato plant. They’re basically the most beneficial weeds ever.) And growing your own produce means you can cut down on your food bill at the store and avoid those nasty pesticides many commercial farmers use.
Even guys get excited when they walk into the plant nursery and start to imagine all of the things they can grow by themselves. And it’s great fun to both be invested in your little plants. If you live apart, try planting a few at one another’s house. You’ll be surprised how often you ask “How are the tomato plants doing?” or “Did you water them today?” or start laughing when you find yourself competing over who’s garden is shooting up faster. If you live together, you can both take care of them and watch them grow (which may or may not tell you how would do with other even more important things, like taking care of live animals or small children). And of course, watering, lifting containers, digging in the dirt, and pulling weeds all burn calories and are a great way to keep each other off the couch.
If you hate digging in the dirt or have no yard space, opt for a container garden. You can easily set up a few containers on your porch, patio, or even on a flat roof. Just elevate your containers on wood planks or milk cartons if you put them on the roof or on blacktop—these surfaces tend to suck in heat and could fry the roots if they’re directly on top of it.) Check with one of the gardening gurus at the store or your green-thumb friend on how many plants you can fit per container.
Now’s the time to plant them, so grab your sweetheart, head to the store this weekend, and pick out some plants. When you’re standing elbow-to-elbow at the kitchen a few weeks from now, slicing your very own tomatoes or peppers or whatever you end up planting over a summer salad, you’ll have a sense of shared accomplishment that’ll make your dinner together even more special—and taste amazing, too!