Imagine if instead of running to the grocery store and fighting the crowds to find produce treated with harsh chemicals, you could step right outside your kitchen and pick fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce gardening makes it possible!
A backyard rife with delicious kale and zucchini, juicy strawberries and tomatoes, fresh picked herbs and homegrown onions—it’s the at-home chef’s dream. It turns out growing your own produce isn’t a pipe dream. With a bit of research and a whole lot of patience, many homeowners are discovering that it’s possible to grow a great deal of their own food.
The Benefits of Produce Gardening
Growing your own produce has numerous benefits, far beyond crafting a fantastic salad for your family. It can beautify your backyard, help reduce your carbon footprint, and provide a great outlet for you and your family members. Gardeners have the opportunity to transform their home and diets with delightful, colourful produce. If you’ve been toying with the idea of starting your own produce garden, here’s what you should know before digging that soil and crafting that raised garden bed.
Produce Gardening: What to consider
In order to cultivate produce, you’ll need healthy soil that’s rich with nutrients. In most cases, you can’t rely on your yard’s existing soil. Purchase organic soil and maintain its richness with compost additions in the months and years ahead. If you’re looking to spread soil across your yard, consider contacting a local soil supplier who can handle delivery and help you divvy and spread the soil in the most beneficial way possible.
During times of drought, gardening water can be scarce. Many states across the US are currently dealing with water shortage, and those looking to cultivate gardens and backyard oases are now scrambling to get creative with water resources.
As many homeowners look for ways to conserve water while maintaining a lush yard, greywater and rain barrel systems have become more popular. While greywater and storm runoff can be excellent options for flower beds and lush greenery, there’s been a long running debate as to whether or not this water is safe for use with edible plants.
Recent research has provided some good news for gardeners in terms of rain barrel systems; so long as homeowners adhere to recommendations to reduce exposure to bacteria, rain water can be safe to use. According to recent findings from Australia’s university of Melbourne and University of Monash: “Our study makes it clear: irrigation with storm water is indeed feasible, as long as appropriate crops are selected and [soils] are frequently turned over.” Investing in a rain water barrel system can benefit your yard in the long run, and cutting down on water usage can save you a small fortune in utilities each year.
These systems can be costly upfront, but with PACE programs, many homeowners are able to afford important water and energy efficient home improvements. The HERO Program is Renovate America’s PACE program; any upgrade made through financing like this can be paid off on property tax bills. This means you don’t need thousands of dollars upfront, and makes accessing important upgrades for your yard and home possible.
Great Produce Gardening Options for Beginners
It’s best to ease into produce gardening. Start slow with edibles that are easier to grow and hone your skills as a green thumb chef with the following produce options:
Most produce gardeners get their start with herbs, and for good reason. Popular herbs tend to be the easiest to grow, whether you’re looking to enjoy mint, thyme, rosemary, parsley, or dill.
These orange veggies are a crowd pleaser, and surprisingly easy to grow. You can take your pick from a variety of carrot options; white, purple, and classic orange, long and short, fat and skinny. They’re generally ready for pulling about a month after planting, so their almost instantly gratifying.
If you’re dreaming of the day you can pick your own salad from your garden, get started now. Growing salad greens is surprisingly simple, and if you’re dealing with a shady yard, lettuce is sure to be your best option for produce planting. Try a variety of different lettuce types, including arugula, chicory, spinach, and other loose-leafed options.
Radishes are one of the easiest edible plant options to grow with a quick turnaround. Generally radishes are planted successively during spring and fall.
Kids and adults alike will appreciate the planting of some juicy red strawberries. Easy to grow in a variety of climates and containers, almost any gardener can make a go of growing this delicious fruit.
These are only a few of the options novice gardeners have to work with, so consider your tastes and climate and select produce options that will thrive in your yard.
Produce gardening can provide numerous benefits for your yard and health. Consider these tips for growing your own food and make a difference in your family’s life this year.