It’s becoming more and more common to see raised garden beds in the front and backyards of homes. You might have walked around your neighborhood and even spotted a large container or two bursting with ripe tomato plants or fresh blueberries. As you walk past, you might be thinking to yourself, why go through all that trouble? The simple fact is, growing your own food is a fantastic way to improve both your mental and nutritional health. Whether you’re growing a single plant in a pot, or carving out a portion of your backyard for an urban garden, growing your own produce is incredibly beneficial to not only you but the environment around you, as well.
What are the benefits?
If you’ve thought about planting a few plants for yourself, but are still on the theoretical fence, here are a few things that might persuade you to give it a try!
- Planting helps you get more servings of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
- You decide what’s in your food. Knowing what fertilizers and types of pesticides may or may not come into contact with your food gives you more control over what you put into your body.
- Harvest when you want. Harvesting fruits and veggies in their prime means a greater amount of nutritional value in your foods. Instead of getting food past its prime in a grocery store, you’re in control of when you eat what you’ve grown.
- You’ll save money! Gardening may seem like an expense, but in actuality, you’ll likely save money when you stop purchasing your produce at a grocery store.
Growing Food is Easier Than You Think
Growing your own food is far simpler than you might think! You don’t have to have a green thumb to get things done. Sure, it takes time to learn the ropes about cultivating food, but it’s well worth the learning curve. So what should you keep in mind before you start gardening?
- What do you like to eat? Think about the produce you usually go for in the store. Make a list of any fruits and vegetables that you eat regularly, or like to include in your meals. Have that list? Great! Now looking at that list, which basic foods are easier to grow?
Fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce are commonly used in the kitchen and are surprisingly forgiving for those new to gardening. Better yet, quite a few fruits and vegetables and be grown in minimal gardening spaces, or even pots. Planting in containers gives you control over everything from the soil to the amount of light the plant will receive.
- What grows well in your climate? Growing your own food means you’ll have to take a serious look at what grows well in your climate and what foods are easiest to grow during each season. For example, pepper and tomato plants love warmer soil, so it’s best to plant them after the last frost date in your area. If you’re having a difficult time figuring out what might grow best where you live, take a trip to your local plant nursery. They’ll have a better understanding of what grows well and why.
Start Your Garden
- Pick your soil wisely. You could simply use standard potting soil, or a mixture of soil specifically meant for the type of plant you’re trying to grow, but whatever route you take, always try and use containment free soil. Growing your own food means having greater control and an overall understanding of what’s feeding the food that will later feed you. Staying clear of nasty chemicals in the soil means not consuming those chemicals yourself at the dinner table.
On another note, the soil in your backyard might not be ideal for the plant you’re trying to grow. You might get lucky and have a successful and happy harvest, but know roughly what kind of soil content your plant will thrive off of before you plant it in the ground or container.
- Let there be light! Some plants need more light than others, some are more happy in indirect light, whatever the case, most plants that produce fruits or vegetables need at least 6 hours of good sunlight each day. Find a spot in your backyard that will allow for your plants to bask in the sun.
- Access to water. Now, this is obvious, but your plants will need water to survive. If you’re new to gardening however—and I say this from genuine experience—there is such a thing as giving your plants a little “too much love”. Overwatering is a thing, and it’s safe to say that not all plants need or want the same amount of water each day. Thankfully, when you purchase most seeds or established plants, they’ll come with a nifty tag that gives you information on the relative amount of sun and water that the plant does well with.