Grow your own? Why?

Mar15 PottHerb

Square Foot Gardening. Edible Landscape. Succession Planting. Companion Planting. Biointensive Planting. Permaculture. The list goes on. Lots of perspectives and opinions about growing plant-based food. Lots of great resources urging folks to understand where food comes from, explaining responsible agriculture, encouraging folks to grow their own.

So, where do these ideas fit into the family’s life? How important is growing vegetables? How much effort and expense will give what level of reward?

Good questions. Here is what I believe:
It is important to know how to produce food.
It is important to grow a wider variety of vegetables than we typically see at the local Piggly Wiggly.
It is important to be mindful of the impact food production has on the land.

With experience and research, more of the family’s plant-based foods will be supplied from the home garden each year. Will home gardeners ever grow 100% of our fruits and vegetables? Probably not.

Just last year the first two raised beds were built here. A modified version of Square Foot Gardening was used to raise a few vegetables. The goal was to learn a lot, maybe eat a little. We harvested delicious Snow Peas, Radishes, beets, lettuces and spinach. Cherry tomatoes were abundant but other varieties could have offered better yields. Eggplant and peppers were tasty but could have used more room to grow. Cucumbers, carrots, zucchini and yellow squash were, well, less than successful. What was learned? Home grown veggies are FAR more tasty than the grocery store equivalents. Also we learned we can DO THIS!

Mar15 KaleSpinThis year the peppers, cucumber, eggplant and summer squash will have their own raised bed rather than sharing with the tomatoes. Pole beans and mustard greens will be added to the list of plants. Kale and spinach actually survived from the winter garden. Green leaves to make a salad or two can be picked daily even in early March. Collards survived as well. SWMBO uses these for the juices she makes in the morning.

In years past, herbs in pots have grown very well on my screen porch. Typically the plants have come from the local big box garden center. This year most were started from seeds in Jiffy Peat Pots and transplanted.

The garden year is just getting started. Today radishes, snow peas and sugar snap peas are emerging from the soil. Winter’s kale and spinach are ready to harvest. Herbs are potted and seem very happy on the deck. Beets, collards, swiss chard are seeded and should sprout any day. Lettuce seeds will be planted in a week or so.

Where will all this lead? Who knows. Meanwhile we will eat delicious veggies, know exactly how they were grown and precisely where they came from. Satisfying for sure.

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