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Very few of us these days are dependent on a home garden for our food stock. But with food prices rising and so many people out of work, it is moving from the realm of hobby into the sphere of necessity.
Why You Should Consider Gardening
- You control the pesticide application. Small-scale gardens do not need the pesticides that large farms do. Eliminating pesticides from our food intake means we consume fewer chemicals and leave fewer chemicals to get into the environment.
- Garden produce is fresh. Supermarket produce is often picked before ripe and sprayed to preserve it. Garden produce is picked right before you eat it, after ripening naturally.
- You can choose what to grow. Besides the obvious decisions of growing tomatoes versus not, you can also decide which type of tomato to grow. Some cultivars produce tomatoes of size or flavor you would never be able to find in the supermarket. Growing heirloom varieties also preserves genetic diversity, which is needed to fight plant diseases.
- Fresh-from-the-garden produce has more nutrients. “Many vegetables lose delicate nutrients (vitamins E, C, B1, folate, and retinol) rapidly as soon as they are picked.” (WebMD)
- Home-gardened food is cheaper. You can choose to pay $3.99 a pound for vine-fresh tomatoes in the grocery store, or $1.99 for six plants that will each produce three to four pounds of tomatoes.
Why You Should Simplify Gardening
Gardening requires ongoing work. It isn’t a matter of planting the seeds and coming back in a few weeks to harvest. (Believe me, this is from experience).
Gardens require ongoing weeding and watering. By simplifying the ongoing tasks, you automatically make gardening require less time.
How To Simplify Gardening
- Consider containers or raised beds. Putting a barrier around your plants keeps weeds from invading wholesale. What weeds make their way in are easily dealt with because the soil in contained spaces is never packed down from walking. New types of containers are also self-watering, cutting down on time needed for watering, and providing consistent moisture for healthier plants.
- Limit the garden space. Start small, and you increase your chance of success without overwhelming yourself at harvest time. New planting techniques can also increase the output from very small spaces.
- Plant what you need. Traditional gardening has you sow many hundreds of seeds and then thinning the sprouts. Planting what you want and need eliminates the task of thinning.
- Time the planting. If you plant all your plants at once, your harvest will all come in at once. Staggering planting by weeks extends your harvest season.
- Choose non-fussy plants. Some plants require ongoing maintenance: staking, routing, or pruning. Avoiding those types of plants cuts down on your maintenance time.
- Consider buying plants. Plants already started are easy to work with. While this limits your choice on varieties in most cases, you will not have to fuss with starting seeds in the house.
After five years of dismal failures in my gardening attempts, I decided on the above actions after research and thought. I planted two 3 foot square beds (one for veggies, one for herbs) and part of my side garden will be given over to edible plants. Since I am apparently the only person in North America unable to grow zucchini, I chose to plant tomatoes, peppers, root veggies and herbs this year. I bought all plants instead of starting from seed, after losing the battles for seeds with the birds.
So far I have harvested many tomatoes, fresh herbs, radishes, turnips, and green peppers. While not replacing my fresh vegetable purchases from the store, it is a welcome budget helper.
- Square Foot Gardening. All New Square Foot Gardening (book), Square Foot Gardening Website. This method shows you how to build gardens in containers and/or raised beds to maximize harvest and minimize thinning and weeding.
- Gardener’s Supply Company. Gardeners.Com. A source for containers, quality raised beds and innovative planting and watering solutions.
- Your state agriculture cooperative. A good source of information about native plants, climate and soils.
Photo by Jason Sandeman