It’s no surprise that cooking and preparing your own food is the safest and healthiest bet. When you buy food already made, or go out to dinner at a restaurant, there is truly no way to know how it was prepared, where it came from, and what is in it. There are numerous benefits to starting a home garden, especially when you are following a whole foods diet to heal from chronic illness. Deciding to grow your own food not only gives you control over knowing where your food comes from, but also provides a fun, tasty and inexpensive way to ensure you are eating the freshest foods possible!
You certainly don’t have to be a farmer or own hundreds of acres of land to grow your own food. The process of starting a home garden is pretty simple, and just requires regular attention. There are many ways you can start your own garden, and you can customize it to best benefit your family and preferences.
Aside from the normal, in-ground gardening, there are several other ways you can begin a garden!
Raised Garden Beds– These are ideal when the soil in your area isn’t the best quality for growing. Here in the Carolinas, we’ve got this dense, red clay which is really difficult for growing most vegetables because they can’t grow roots very easily. Basically, with a raised garden bed, you build a box above the ground and fill it with a healthy, organic soil that you buy. Water also drains better because the garden is above the ground. You can either purchase a raised garden bed or build your own.
Window Box– Window boxes can be used both indoors and outdoors, provided you have the space for them. They are a great option for people with no yard. One thing to be sure of is to use the highest quality soil possible, and stick to smaller plants and herbs due to the limited root space available.
Pots– These can be used both indoors and out, and are a great option for growing herbs and vegetables year round since you can move them depending on the weather. Picking the proper size pots is crucial when choosing different varieties of plants you wish to grow; root vegetables will require deep pots, and leafy vegetables will need shallower ones. One benefit to using pots to grow your own food instead of regular gardening outdoors is that you don’t run the risk of soil-borne diseases that can impact you when planting directly into the ground.
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. I’m guilty of doing that all the time! The last thing you want to do is have to throw away your hard work because you can’t consume it all. Keep in mind that vegetable varieties such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, and more will continually grow throughout the season. You will get a continuous crop from just one or two plants.
- Find the right spot & amount of space- Depending on what you’re planting, the amount of sun required will vary for each plant. 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. One easy way to do this is by following square foot gardening principles.
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. This is my favorite book for step-by-step gardening tips!
So what are the best types of herbs and vegetables to grow at home? Keep in mind that if you want to grow your own food, the best herbs and veggies for your family are the ones that you will eat the most.
Herbs: Basil (multiple varieties), chives, thyme, marjoram, oregano, garlic, rosemary, parsley, mint, cilantro, and lavender.
Vegetables: Lettuce, carrots, broccoli, beans, peas, peppers, radishes, squash, tomatoes, beets, and spinach.
Deciding to grow 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. You also won’t have to question how long that bag of carrots sat on the grocery shelf, or wonder if it’s grown in healthy soil or not.
There is something to be said of fresher-than-fresh foods. Try starting your own garden and enjoy all the new flavors and smells!