Looking for reasons to grow your own veggies? Not only will you save money at the grocery store but you'll feel an extra sense of pride in your salads. Here's how to get started.
During both World Wars, Americans were encouraged to grow vegetable, herb and fruit gardens
to ensure an abundant food supply. Called Victory Gardens, these gardens were thought to raise the spirit and create hope for citizens inspired by the reward that results from gardening and homegrown harvest.
Today, backyard gardens are enjoying a resurgence of interest by home gardeners. Although not called Victory Gardens, they have similar purpose and effect of leading to feelings of personal control over food that makes its way to the dinner table.
Concerned by pesticide contamination and the fuel consumption required to truck produce thousand of miles from field to store, gardening has become a response to what many feel is a war on all that does not lend itself to environmental consciousness and green living.
Walking out your back door to gather fresh organic vegetables for dinner is the ultimate in eating local. Even if you do not have a yard, vegetables can be grown in pots on patios and balconies. Interested in growing a vegetable garden but not sure how to get started? We have some ideas that might help.
Your growing zone.
First find out when the last frost and first frost is likely to occur in your area. Starting a garden before the last frost will damage seeds and young vegetable plants.
Planning your garden.
Choose vegetables you and your family like to eat.
Shop for seeds.
Look for seed companies that offer open-pollinated, organically grown, heirloom and traditional vegetable, flower and herb seeds. Take note of how much room each of the vegetable plants will need to grow properly. Depending on the amount of gardening space you have this year, decide accordingly how much of each vegetable you will plant.
Garden of two seasons.
To maximize your growing time, remember to choose cool weather and late summer vegetables. As spring enters summer, and summer enters fall, you will be able to plant new seeds through the growing season in your area.
Design the garden area.
Decide where your backyard garden will be and map out where your rows of vegetables will be planted. Choose a sunny area. Prepare the soil. Work in compost. When the time is right, plant seeds.
Bringing in young plants.
Rather than planting all your vegetables from seed, some vegetables are better introduced into the garden as young plants. Until you are a more seasoned gardener, young tomato plants are easier to plant and grow than starting from seed.
Get the family involved.
Gardens are a great way to help children connect with nature. Growing vegetables is an invaluable learning experience. Invite your children to choose a favorite vegetable to grow in the garden. Sunflowers and pumpkins are timeless favorites. When the pumpkins are young, have your children choose one and lightly crave their name into it without damaging the pumpkin. When the pumpkins are ready to harvest, your children will have a customized pumpkin in time for Halloween.
Wondering if backyard gardening is worth the effort? The Dervaes family lives on a city lot and reported a 2007 harvest of 5,700 lbs of food grown on one-tenth of an acre. Perhaps not all of us will be that admirably ambitious, but the Dervaes family garden proves it is possible to grow a good deal of food on nothing larger than a city lot. Even if you only grow a tomato plant in a pot, the tomatoes picked from that plant will be the freshest and tastiest tomatoes you will ever eat. Guaranteed.