If you have any land around your house, it might be time to start planning and planting a garden. If you live in an apartment but your town or city has garden allotments, it might also be time to consider growing your own food.
Advantages of Growing Your Own Food
Growing your own vegetables is as old as time itself. Most of us have gotten away from it in the modern world, but with food prices on the rise in supermarkets and all sorts of foodborne illnesses spreading due to the poor practices of the food “industry”, growing your own food is one that will save you money in the long run and help you and your family stay healthier as well.
In addition to saving money, there is a great feeling of accomplishment in growing and feeding your family with fresh garden-grown vegetables. There’s nothing quite like the taste either. The produce in supermarkets these days travels an average of 1,500 miles to reach your store displays, and are covered with pesticides, dyes to make them look more attractive, oil to make them look shinier, and more. When you grow it yourself, what you see and taste is what you get.
Gardening is a fun and interesting hobby as well. There’s always something to do or learn. Best of all, it can be a real family affair, with everyone working together as a team. Young children will love digging around in the dirt. Older kids will love a “fair” at the end of each season. See who has grown or picked the biggest X in the garden that season and award ribbons and prizes. Explore a range of recipes for each of the items you grow.
Storing Your Harvest
If you get a really good harvest, chances are you might have a good deal left over that you can’t eat yourselves. In this case, you have several choices. The old-fashioned way of laying up stores of food for winter was the canning process using those adorable little bell jars.
Nowadays you can also “flash-freeze” many vegetables. Pick them at the peak of freshness and store them in zippered freezer bags. Then just take out what you need.
Other vegetables like potatoes and onions will keep well in a cool, dry place. Some people place them in what is termed a root cellar to preserve them until the next harvest comes along.
Depending on what you grow, you could have several harvests a year. You can even sow and grow winter harvests once you learn how, provided you don’t live in an area where the cold weather gets really extreme.
Related: The Benefits of Cooking At Home
Speaking of extreme, you can avoid the extremely high price of buying organic vegetables by growing them yourself and using natural pesticides to keep bugs away. You might have to pay $15 for only a few organic tomatoes, compared with $2 for a pack of seeds. Even the regular tomatoes are $1 per pound when they are in season, and up to $4 when they aren’t. At the supermarket, a can of crushed tomatoes usually costs around $1.49. Just think how much money you could save with just one tomato plant and a bit of tender loving care.
Live in an apartment? There’s no need to miss out on the joys of your own garden. You just have to make the most of the space you are living in. For example, you can buy a mushroom kit that will give you many pounds of mushrooms for far less money than the $4 per pound they average in the supermarket. An herb garden can save you a small fortune and add all new interest to the meals you cook.
In most cities, there are garden allotments in designated green areas. You would usually rent the space and be given a key. In some cases, you will have to buy your own tools. In others, you will be given a key to a tool shed. Experienced gardeners can tell you what to plant and when.
You should soon see some wonderful harvests. Even better, you might be able to barter some of your vegetables for some of theirs. Swap your carrots for their peas or potatoes. It can be a fun way to pass the time and socialize, and everyone in the family can help. Just make sure the children are old enough, well-behaved, and supervised.
A Good Workout
In addition to all the fun, saving money, and delicious taste of your own food, you will be out in the fresh air if you garden outdoors, and will be getting a workout too. Gardening can burn off about 400 calories per hour depending on the chore. Plus, if you add more vegetables to your diet, you will feel fuller longer due to the water and fiber in the vegetables.
What to Grow
What about fruit, we hear you ask. It can be trickier, because the fruit trees have to establish themselves before they start bearing fruit. The fruit will also be more delicate and subject to the various weather conditions each year. Sturdy trees include apple, pear and plum. You can also get citrus trees in any home improvement store.
No matter what you choose to grow, the important thing is to understand the soil you have and your options for giving the plant the right kind of nutrients and water to get a good crop. Check with a local plant nursery – chances are they can test a sample of your soil and give you good advice about what you need. You might also visit a local farm to learn more about what’s best to grow in your area throughout the year.
If you’ve been wondering what new and interesting hobbies to try, or looking for activities you can do as a family, consider growing your own food and see what joy it can bring to every meal.
In the modern world, we have unprecedented access to foods from every corner of the globe. Food can be a joy for everyone if you control your eating and make the most of fresh, natural ingredients. If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, or wishing you could be closer as a family, start enjoying more home cooked meals and see what a difference it can make to your overall wellbeing.
To your best life!