Buying locally grown food has become increasingly popular, since locally grown food tends to be fresher, have fewer pesticides, and helps individuals feel closer to their community. If you’re already buying local and are looking for additional ways to go green, why not take things a step farther and begin growing your own garden?
Even if you don’t have a large yard, you can still grow your own food. You can put pots on patios, balconies, or window sills. Some communities have community gardens, where you can purchase your own plot of land to grow on. If your own garden is something you’re interested in, there is a way to make it happen.
Benefits of Growing Your Own Food
- No pesticides. While many local growers are using fewer pesticides, most larger farms are still using them. Pesticides contaminate soil and water, and are toxic to birds and fish. Growing your own vegetables and fruits ensures that pesticides aren’t used on your food.
- Less plastic. Most fruits and vegetables come wrapped in plastic or are transported out of the store in a plastic bag. While some stores and farmer’s markets encourage reusable bags, growing your own food allows you to pick your vegetables and fruits right off the vine and begin consuming them without them ever coming in contact with plastic.
- Exercise. A garden forces you to plant, weed, water, and pick your vegetables and fruit. All that work provides you with a more meaningful workout than driving to the store would. Eliminating your drive to the store also means you’re using fewer fossil fuels, which benefits the environment.
- Less waste. How often do you find yourself throwing away a bag of rotting cabbage or a moldy orange because it sat too long in your fridge? Once food waste goes into the landfill, it breaks down to produce a greenhouse gas known as methane. Methane plays a negative role in climate change. Most people are more motivated to eat food they’ve grow themselves, because they’ve had the pleasure of watching it grow.
How to Get Started
- Figure out what you’re planting. Are you hoping to grow herbs, veggies, fruit, or a little bit of everything? Factors to take into consideration of growing your own garden are your location, the season, and what you would enjoy growing the most.
- Determine your space. The location of your garden matters. If you’re gardening outdoors, you’ll want to pick a spot that receives sunlight, is in close proximity to water, and has protection from the wind and morning frosts. If you’re gardening in a greenhouse or in your house, you’ll need to make sure the temperature of the building is maintained and that the plants receive adequate light. LED grow lights produce wavelengths utilized by plants, so they are a great alternative for when your plants aren’t getting enough natural light. GrowAce has a number of recommended LED grow lights that are perfect for indoor gardens.
- Prep your ground. If gardening outdoors, you’ll need to clear the ground, improve your soil by adding organic matter, and till and dig the garden until it becomes workable. Taking the time to prepare an outdoor garden correctly is essential so that plants can receive proper water and nutrients from the soil. If prepping a greenhouse or indoor garden, you’ll need to build growing beds and invest in a good growing mix.
- Buy and plant your picks. Consider if you’re starting from seeds or young plants. Many seeds are easy to grow if you follow the instructions on the seed package and keep them moist. Young plants are even easier to grow, because all you have to do is transplant them into your garden.
- Maintain your garden. After you planted your seeds or young plants, you’ll need to keep them watered. Seedlings need watered daily, transplants need watered until their roots get established, and larger plants need watered when their soil feels dry. Mulching your garden helps keep moisture in and also helps prevent the sun from drying out plants. If you’re growing indoors, you’ll want to make sure your plants have proper water drainage.
Keep It Up
Once you have established your garden and are providing it with regular maintenance, you’ll soon start receiving regular produce! You’ll enjoy eating own your vegetables and fruit. Once your garden really takes off, you’ll be able to share your produce with your friends and family as well.
Whether you’re planting indoors or outdoors, starting your own garden is worth the time and energy.