Should You Grow Your Own Food?
It’s no surprise that cooking and preparing your own meals is the safest, healthiest, and most budget-friendly bet. When you buy ready-made food, or dine at a restaurant, there is no absolute way to know how it was prepared, what the ingredients are made of, where they come from, and many more. By cooking your own food, you know everything down from the rawest ingredient up to the final preparations of your dish. You can at least know for sure everything that went into its preparation from start to finish. But what if growing your own food is not just all that is mentioned above, but also a fun, tasty and inexpensive way to ensure you are eating the freshest foods possible?
You certainly don’t have to be a Martha Stewart or own hundreds of acres of land to grow your own food. Anyone can start their own garden or farm in just the comfort of their backyards. The process is rather simple and easy. The actual work requires regular attention and maintenance. There are a ton of methods by which you can approach growing your own food. Whether you use a raised garden, window garden, or grow them in pots, fresh veggies and herbs can be yours.
Let’s take a look at the various methods of growing veggies and herbs at home, aside from the traditional ground-gardening.
Raised Garden Beds – These are ideal when the available ground soil is not of a good quality. They keep pathway weeds from your garden soil, prevent soil compaction, provide good drainage, and serve as a barrier to pests such as slugs and snails. Basically, you build a garden above the ground and fill it with healthy soil that you purchase. Because of the elevated construction of a garden bed, water drains better. You can either purchase a raised garden bed or build your own. To do a DIY raised garden bed, all you need are planks, rebar, a mallet, and soil to fill the garden bed.
Window Box – Window boxes can be used both indoors and outdoors. They are great for people with no yard space or very little yard space. You can place a window box along the kitchen window to grow herbs for easier access when you cook. Using the highest possible quality soil is recommended, as the root growth on your plants will be limited due to the depth of the window box. Window boxes can also add extra charm, colour, and texture in your window-sills at the same time. The best herbs to plant in window boxes are chives, parsley, lemon thyme, basil, coriander, and many more.
Pots – Can be used both indoors and out, pots are a great option for growing herbs and vegetables. Picking the proper size pots is crucial when choosing different varieties of plants you wish to grow. One plus to using pots versus regular ground gardening is that you don’t run the risk of soil-borne diseases that you would otherwise have to worry about if planting directly into the ground. Another benefit of using pots or containers for gardening is the portability – if you ever plan to change houses or go vacation in another place, you can bring your herbs with you. Also, due to the small surface area, it is unlikely weed seeds will find their way into pots.
Regardless of which method you use to grow your herbs and veggies, there are some basic things to keep in mind in order to ensure a nice, healthy crop.
Only plant what you can consume – It’s easy to get excited about a new adventure and plant too much. The last thing you want to do is have to throw away your hard work because you can’t consume it all. If you have too many plants in your garden, most often you won’t have the energy and time to tend to all of them and the tendency is they will just wilt and die. It’s better to plant one herb at a time than planting too many herbs and vegetables which will end up mostly in the trash. Keep in mind that vegetable varieties such as tomatoes, peppers, etc. continually grow throughout the season so from just one plant, you will get a routine crop.
Find the right spot and amount of space – depending on what you’re planting, the amount of sun required will vary. If your plants need mostly direct sunlight, be sure you’re placing them in an area that is predominantly sunny. Also, make sure you have enough space to accommodate the varieties of plants you choose to grow. Note projected growth heights on seed packets.
If you live somewhere where seasons drastically change, it’s important to be prepared and know what steps you need to take to protect your garden. Most people think that window boxes are inconvenient when it comes to four-season weather, especially winter. It’s a common misconception that window boxes will look ugly and empty when it gets cold. Winter can be equally dazzling when you know what to plant.
Now it’s time to talk about the types of herbs and vegetables that are best suited to grow at home. Keep in mind that the best herbs and veggies you can grow are the ones that you will benefit from most. For herbs: basil (multiple varieties), chives, thyme, marjoram, oregano, garlic, rosemary, parsley, mint Vegetables: Lettuce, carrots, broccoli, beans, peas, peppers, radishes, squash, and tomatoes.
Growing your own food at home is a great way to get children involved in healthy eating. Broccoli is often much more appealing to a child when they grew and harvested it themselves. Garlic also requires very little care so you can assign them to your kids to water every day. You also won’t have to question how long that bag of carrots sat on the grocery shelf. There is something to be said of fresher-than-fresh foods. There is a sense of self-achievement and gratification when you harvest your herbs and vegetables that you have grown.
One of the cool things about growing herbs in particular is that you can either use them fresh, or hang them upside down to dry and use them dried. Either way, the flavour is incomparable to store bought spices. Try starting your own garden and enjoy all the new flavours and smells!