Posted By Jonathan on July 11, 2013
I have always had at least one garden in my life since I was born, whether it be my parents’ or grandparents’. My paternal grandparents were farmers, and my maternal grandparents always had a lavish floral and produce garden (but also grew up on farms when they were young). I like to think that gardening is in my blood, but is probably simply a learned love for tending the land. Although, I do not understand when I learned to love it. I never helped out at my maternal grandparents’ house. I hated it, the heat, the work, the sweating… I’m a little regretful about acting so stubborn. Either way, I now have my own piece of paradise. I have become obsessed with the idea of being self sufficient and having many floral gardens. A way to honor my maternal grandfather, Byron Rude, I suppose. I wish to be an advanced gardener like he was someday.
Before we moved to the house, both of us anticipated having a large produce garden. I had shared this idea with friends as well. One in particular brought up having a victory garden. I do not know if he meant the lavish gardens like the PBS television show or rather the idea that permeated in many countries during the world wars. Either way, my friend was correct on both fronts about my (our) plans. It also seems appropriate since my Grandpa Rude was a WWII veteran, too.
Reasons to Grow Your Own Produce
1. It is very rewarding
Sure, gardening is a lot of work, but compared to what the plants provide it is hardly worth complaining about. Yes, you will have a lot of planning to do, you will have to prepare your land (removing grass, tilling, and prepare your soil), spend laborious hours pulling weeds, faithfully water your green friends, and fend off pests that would like those plants for dinner as much as you do. However, if you commit, you will have much food for you and your family to eat that is healthy and that you grew yourself!
2. Save Some Green by Growing Green
Initially, the garden will not save you money. If you are someone who has never gardened, you will probably need to buy tools to aid you in working the land. You will also need to buy the plants or seeds, fertilizer, and possibly products like limestone, sand, peatmoss, or manure to help you make your soil more viable for plants to grow. After weeks of waiting and proper care, though, you will have a bountiful crop. Depending how you plant, you can have continual food with some crops for the whole summer. You can also freeze or can excess fruits and vegetables to save for winter months. If well thought out, you may never need to buy produce at the store all year if you do not wish.
3. Knowledge of Your Food’s Lineage
Most produce we buy at the grocery store travels hundreds to thousands of miles to get to us. As a result, your produce will be more expensive due to the amount of oil needed to transport it. In addition, most people are unaware of the types of pesticides used on plants and it’s fruits. ‘They’ say wash your produce before you eat to wash away any harmful pesticides, but in reality those chemicals could possibly still be lurking inside your fruit as it grew. Genetically modified produce could also be harmful in the long run as well. So, avoid all the worries and grow your own. You will know where it came from and exactly how it grew. You need not use pesticides (though, I admit I used ‘Seven’ on mine while they were growing leaves to keep off the japanese beetles) and can grow healthy organic fruits and vegetables at home.
4. Help the Environment
Your garden will most likely attract various types of birds, insects, and pests. Your flowering plants will attract bees, that will ultimately pollinate your garden for you. Insects (pests or good) that show up can aid your garden or at least provide a treat to birds. You may get to see rabbits, dear, and even raccoons. However, prepare yourself for these animals since they will eat your plants. A fence may be necessary for you in these cases. Either way, your garden promotes a rich ecosystem that you will come to appreciate.
I mentioned there is a lot of labor involved in gardening. The many hours you spends digging and weeding is great exercise for your body. It will keep you lean, and if the movement does not the sweating will! So, be sure to drink lots of water. If you’re not as mobile as I am, you can always use a chair to sit on as you weed or a cushion mat to help protect from the hard ground.
If you are one of those people who do not own a house with any land, or simply feel you cannot grow a garden, I do have some alternatives.
1. I Live In an Apartment
I understand how you feel. The first place we lived was in an apartment and they do make you feel pretty useless in terms of growing things. However, you still can grow your own food. Tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and even strawberries can be grown in pots. You can plant your produce either by seed or plant. Make sure you have a large enough pot in order for your plants to grow a healthy root system and set in a south window to get plenty of light. If you are lucky enough to have a deck or patio off your apartment, you may set your plants out there.
2. I Do Not Have Space In My Yard
However small your yard is, there is always a little room for some vegetables. You don’t need to plant many, but every little bit you do will only benefit yourself. You can also opt to plant produce in pots as well, but if you have a spot outside, that would be best for your plant.
3. Grow a Kitchen Herb Garden
I am well aware that many people use fresh herbs in their cooking, which I have just begun to do. Herbs themselves are very easy to grow and can even be grown on your kitchen counters. All you need are some pots (or one nice long one), space, and sun or florescent light. It may take while for your herbs to sprout, but be patient. I was not sure if my basil was going to show up, but the day after there were little sprouts in my pot!
4. Start a Community Garden
I have never actually been part of a community garden, but I have always loved the idea. You and your neighbors could find a place together to set one up and each be responsible for it, or you could talk to the city, your church, even community education programs for children or adults about starting one together. This idea coincides with what happened with the world war victory gardens. People banded together to grow their own food so the food that was mass produced could go to the troops or those who really needed it. Be responsible for yourself and start caring for your neighbors again by trying a community garden. You will be rewarded with food and hopefully new friendships.
5. Shop Locally
If none of these work for you, you can always shop locally. At the grocery store look for locally grown produce. Farmers markets are also a splendid way of buying fresh produce, and often times flowers, breads, jams, honey, and other sweets! Shopping here you support your neighbors in their farming efforts (rather than big companies) and get to know where you food came from. Look in your local newspaper or online for farmers markets near by. They usually happen once or twice a week, depending on the association running the market.
As you can see, there is a plethora of different ways to grow your own produce. In the end, you will save money and be that much closer to being self sufficient. Happy Gardening!
*This post comes from our first website. We are in the process of moving those posts over to Sheltering Woods*