Have you noticed that warmer days are on their way? Inevitably, with the arrival of spring and summer, we start looking at our lifestyles to identify ways of making changes: whether it’s re-designing our interiors, stepping up our exercise regimes or even updating our wardrobes.
With that being said, have you considered overhauling your diet while you’re at it? The best way to become a little greener this summer is by growing (at least some of) your own food. So, for all of us that love flowering shrubs and fruit trees, be sure to clear some room in your backyard for a vegetable patch. You don’t even need a big backyard to make this happen.
Why should I grow my own food?
The first reason you should consider growing your own food is that it’s going to save you a ton of money. You pay a premium for the convenience of supermarket shopping, so cut costs by growing some of your dietary staples. For instance, why not cultivate potatoes, tomatoes, onions and or anything else you regularly use in the kitchen? Fresh herbs can be grown on your windowsill, and a salad box and strawberry patch are really easy to maintain.
The second reason you might want to try providing for yourself is that you’ll find home-grown produce tastes better. It’s fresher than anything you can buy in the shops, and many people report that the flavour of their own fruit and veg is stronger and sweeter.
What food should I try growing first?
- Lettuces: are happy to grow in relatively shady areas, require little in the way of intervention, will survive fairly cold temperatures, and are easy to harvest.
- Radishes: they only take 20 days to grow to full size, so they’re a rewarding first project for new gardeners. Radishes can be grown in any season and are happy left in soil with adequate watering.
- Tomatoes: so long as you have enough sunlight and a structure for the vine to cling to as it grows, you’ll find tomatoes quite easy to grow. In fact, they’ll forgive not being watered occasionally, and some gardeners even believe that tomatoes taste better if they’re given less water than the instructions on seed packets
Are there any top tips for growing my own food?
Absolutely! First know the basics.For example, know what type of soil you’re trying to grow in and check it has a neutral pH level. You’ll also need to know what plants need to survive – which for the most part is just adequate water, sunlight and nutrition.
Second, keep invaders out of your vegetable patch by growing plants they don’t like, such as strong scented lavender or mint. Finally, have patience! Some years you’ll get a good crop, and other years one or two of your plants just won’t do so well! It’s a learning process, and every little success is a victory for your bank balance and the environment.
And third, growing your own food means you have more control over the chemicals you may have been unknowingly consuming up to now. By maintaining your own vegetable patch, you can decide which pesticides, insecticides, fertilisers and seed treatments you’re comfortable using – if any at all.