Leading a healthy life can be quite confusing and for some, even frustrating. One of my favorite ways to incorporate healthy foods into my life is to GROW MY OWN FOOD. Simplicity, my friends. Simplicity. My first year gardening, I had no idea what I was doing and my vegetables still grew well and provided me and my family with enough veggies during the summer months for me to feel like a success. Since then, every year has gotten easier. Companion planting, pest control, soil tests…it’s enough to make someone think having a garden is too much work. IT’S NOT! Just give it a try. My two favorite summer crops and the easiest for me to grow are cucumbers and zucchini. I had so many I was giving some away, which I wanted to do anyway because what’s having a garden if you aren’t going to share with family? 🙂
The savings of having a garden are out of the world. I’ll put it this way: a packet of non-GMO seeds (let’s pick zucchini) will run you about $2-2.50 from Baker Creek. Each packet comes with approximately 15-20 seeds (don’t quote me here I am just guessing from how many I have planted and how many are left in the pack). One seed (plant) will produce between 4-6 individual zucchini (again I am going with my personal experience in my garden). That means that each packet will provide you with approximately 75 zucchini (at 15 seeds per pack and 5 veggies per plant). That, my friend, is a GOOD DEAL!
The savings of planting your own veggies and fruits are beyond awesome. Even if you just plant a few of your favorites, the end will be worth the time you take. I haven’t even touched on the fact that growing your own veggies and fruits allows you to control what goes in the soil (or doesn’t go in the soil! ahem! Monsanto….) and also if you have kids, this allows them to see where their food comes from and why that is important. My kids love helping me in the garden and having their own plants to water and watch grow. It’s a learning experience that they love. Reminds me of last year’s garden when we would wake up and go outside to harvest kale for our morning smoothies! It was something they looked forward to and I really want to them to cherish those memories and hopefully continue on the tradition with their kids. Far too many kids don’t have a clue where their food comes from and why it is important to go back to basics when it comes to food and simplifying how we eat these foods. Processed is out and fresh, homegrown is in!
Kim’s Novice Tips to Get You Started:
- Make sure you start your seeds at the appropriate time. Some veggies and fruits take longer so make sure to read the packet to familiarize yourself with the timing, amount of sun and water, etc.
- Give your plants room to breathe. Some will need only a little space while others, will spread out like wildfire and may need to be trellised.
- Water in the morning or evening. Watering in the summer heat with the sun beating down may scorch your leaves.
- Companion planting! Google it and read up! Plants have friends and foes. In my experience, marigolds are always friends of plants are good pest deterrents.
- Look into organic or homemade pest control. I cant tell you how many different types of concoctions I made with garlic, spices, and herbs to try and rid my garden of pests and critters. Those darn cats!
- Last, start your seeds in organic soil. Harden them off before you plant them outside and save yourself the sadness when they wither away in the harsh conditions in the transition from inside to outside. Gently run your hand over the top of the sprouts every now and then to strengthen the roots and get them ready for the wind. Put the seedlings outside for a few hours in the sun and the dark to get them used to the different times of sun and moonlight.
Most of all, don’t get frustrated if some plants die on you. It’s trial and error and once you get down in the dirt and get closer to nature, you will find that having a garden can be quite therapeutic. The rewards in the end are worth it, and quite TASTY!! Nothing beats a homegrown veggie in the summer. Homemade pickles? Yes! Zucchini bread? Oh yeah! Fresh, sweet watermelon? I can taste it already! (My daughter picked out Georgia Rattlesnake watermelon from Baker Creek this year and I am excited to try it!)
Don’t think for one second that you can’t do this. If you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to a garden, start out with a small one. Plant one or two things. Trust me, when I was planting my first garden I had no clue what I was doing and I didn’t even know if anything would grow. I didn’t have any fancy nutrient rich soil or the big gardener hat and tools for my garden. I had a few seeds and some regular old dirt. You live and you learn. LIVE HAPPY AND HEALTHY!