Contributed by Info Guru Angela Bushong
Growing your own food is one of the surest and most economical ways to know you are getting the best diet nature can give.
Here are ten great ways to make that happen.
10. Start from Seed
If you want to grow food on a large scale, or you simply don’t want to spend a lot of money on fully established plants, start from seed. For the cost of one or two plants, you can have enough seeds to grow a whole row of any given vegetable, enough to feed your whole family and then some!
Due to the practice of monocropping, our grocery stores tend to sell only one or two varieties of any given item of produce, but once upon a time our diets were filled with so much more! Growing heirloom fruits and vegetables, like heirloom tomatoes, is a way to preserve our biodiversity and get more variety on your plate. And because these varieties were grown for flavor, rather than how well they would hold up in shipping, heirlooms tend to taste worlds better than their grocery store counterparts.
8. Succession Planting
Here is a method for keeping the harvest going all season long. Instead of planting your seeds all at once, with succession planting, you plant in spurts over a series of several weeks, so that when mature plants are harvested, younger ones are coming up behind them. An almost essential practice for the serious food gardener.
7. Sprouting & Microgreens
If you’re wanting to start small, or you’re looking for a good way to get an indoor boost of fresh greens during the winter months, growing sprouts and microgreens is the thing for you. Sprouting is the gardener’s answer to fast food. Packed with nutrients, these baby powerhouses grow in a matter of days, cost next to nothing, and will add a nice fresh crunch to your sandwiches, even when the promise of spring salads is months away.
This is a method of growing produce indoors with no soil, only water and any nutrients you add to the water. It might take a little doing to get it set up initially, but once that’s done, you’ve got a virtual indoor garden, perfect for apartment dwellers and those who want total control over their final product.
5. Community Garden
Many city dwellers don’t have yards, or don’t have the okay from their landlords to dig up those yards for food. One answer to this problem is the advent of community gardens–unused green spaces that have been transformed into garden plots anyone can use. Simply sign up with your local community garden association, get your plot, and start digging!
4. Perennial Gardens
Perennial plants are those which come back year after year without having to be replanted. This is the genius behind planning a perennial garden. You map it out, plant your bulbs or seeds or what have you, and wait. Once established, you will have a harvest year after year, with next to no work on your part. Popular candidates for a perennial garden are asparagus, rhubarb, and Egyptian walking onion, among others.
3. School Gardens
It is a sad fact in our country that too many children have no access to fresh, healthy food. Beyond that, many of them are so far removed from their food source that they have no idea what a real carrot or head of broccoli looks like, nor where they come from. To battle this loss of essential nutritional and environmental education, schools throughout the nation are implementing food gardens. These gardens supplement lacking lunch programs and get kids involved in growing their own produce. You’d be amazed what a kid will eat when they’ve cultivated it with their own hands.
2. Container Garden
If you don’t have a lot of space, make use of what you have by growing your food in containers! Urban citizens can find all sorts of creative ways to grow their own food by planting on patios, fire escapes, rooftops, and even indoors. The greatest advantage of this is that you have almost total control, from the soil to the water to the type of lighting your plants get, so you can optimize their growing environment.
1. Raised beds
Raised beds may be one of this single best ways to keep a well maintained garden in your own back yard. Or heck, even your front yard! Many people have embraced the concept of replacing their labor intensive and environmentally unsustainable lawns with lush food gardens that do so much more than look like their own personal putting green. And raised beds give the ability to not only keep out weeds, but also to keep paths clear and the crops looking like the beautiful oases of sustenance they truly are.