Is anyone else on the prairie getting insanely excited about spring? I know I am. With spring excitement comes garden planning in this home. We first started growing food in our home the summer I was pregnant with my son. Our apartment has a small balcony and we started with just a few tomato plants which produced flats upon flats of large juicy flavorful tomatoes. Since then we have gotten more ambitious by the year adding herbs, peppers, cucumbers, carrots, peas and strawberries to the mix, this year we’re even adding a pumpkin plant the toddler picked out and attempting to grow okra (the husband needs it for a recipe and hasn’t had any luck finding it in stores, I am not convinced it will work but he is determined).
There are many great benefits to growing your own food:
- There is nothing more local and fresh than eating fruit and vegetables out of your own back yard, this saves the environmental cost of shipping food to stores and you going out to buy them.
- Harvesting your own food saves packaging.
- Growing your own food gives you more control over where the seeds come from and how they are grown.
- Fresh food is healthier! The moment fruits and vegitables are picked they start to break down, the faster you eat them the more nutrients are transferred from the plant to your body.
- Flowering plants attract and support local pollinators like bees and butterflies, this is a GOOD thing!
- Growing vegetables is a great way for kids to learn about nature, responsibility, and nutrition.
- The effort that goes into your crop is a huge motivation to reduce waste. There is nothing more heartbreaking than having to toss produce you spent weeks and months nurturing. The good news is that because it’s so fresh, your produce will last and extra long time if stored correctly.
- Having living plants around can help battle depression and nature deprivation.
Not only is growing your own food rewarding but it’s also pretty easy to get started and my family is proof that no matter how small your living space, you can grow just about anything with a little determination and ingenuity. Container gardening, square foot gardening, vertical gardening, window farms ,frugal gardening , Community space. Whatever your situation there is usually a way to make gardening work for you. Forget about green thumbs and plant whisperers, anyone can grow vegetables!
If you are totally new to vegetable gardening or caring for plants of any kind the challenge this week is really simple, just examine your living space, your routines, and your lifestyle to figure out where you can make room to grow something. Even if it’s a small plant on your desk at work, everyone’s got to start somewhere.
If you’re already an avid gardener, the challenge is to look at your current gardening plans for the spring and see if there is anything you can do to maximize your harvest. Try some of the links I posted above to really use the space available to you, or if you have any secrets, tips, or ideas for other gardeners please share them!
You can also focus on planning your garden with sustainability in mind. As I talked about last week small changes can save water, composting can enrich your soil while reusing waste from your home or last year’s garden, companion plants can help keep pests at bay without the use of chemicals. There are dozens of options out there.
There will be further challenges for gardeners as the weather gets warmer, but for now, lets get to planning!