Start Planning Your Veggie Garden
A word of warning- growing your own vegetables is not only seriously addictive, but will also completely change your attitude to what you and your kids eat. As you know, I am a strong proponent of a plant based diet, and there is nothing that tastes better than veggies out of your own garden! Once you have tried freshly dug potatoes or tomatoes picked straight from the vine or crunched on sugar snap peas still warm from the sun, nothing will taste the same again. Your taste buds will have awoken. Equally, nothing will match the simple satisfaction of eating food you have raised from seed, planted, watered, fed and tended until it's reached that moment when it's ready for harvesting. There's no turning back- you and your family will be hooked.
Seasonal and Local
We all share a growing concern about the food we eat. Where has it come from, how was it produced, and what has been done to it before it reaches our shopping basket? Increasingly, we see the common sense in eating what's in season and what's grown locally, not what has been shipped halfway around the world at an unacceptable ecological cost. Growing your own food is a very real answer to such concerns. How can anything be fresher, more seasonal, or more local than if you've only just picked it yourself?
Organic or Not
I care about what I eat, and feed my family. For that reason, I try to avoid artificial fertilizers and pesticides and shop specifically for organic or non-GMO seeds or starter plants, and in some cases save my own seeds- yes I realize that for some crazy reason in some states saving your own seeds is illegal (thank you Monsanto lobbyists)- but I guess that is my form of civil disobedience :) In the end, whether to go organic is your own decision, however, it is much easier (and cheaper!) than you think. There are a lot of natural fertilizers and pesticides available- in fact many of them are just repurposed from items found at home already, and over the coming month, we will provide tips, tricks and hacks to get the most out of your garden whether it is in your yard, or potted on your balcony or deck.
Healthy and Natural
Eating food that you've grown yourself is extraordinarily satisfying, and quite honestly gardening and getting your hands in the dirt is meditative and cathartic for many people. Partly, it is the simple pleasure we all take in having done something ourselves, but there are other feel-good factors, too. Being outdoors, getting regular exercise, staying in touch with the seasons, really noticing the weather- all of these things add up. They all contribute to the magic of serving up homegrown vegetables, freshly picked and freshly cooked. They are high in natural vitamins, and minerals, and full of natural flavor.
One thing is for sure; once you have grown your own, you'll never feel quite the same about the shrink-wrapped pack of washed and trimmed green beans or the plastic bag of prepackaged salad that you drop into your shopping cart at the supermarket. I know, especially when you live in New England and the growing season is short, that they may be a necessity at certain times of the year, but starting soon- I am looking forward to playing in the kitchen with nothing but fresh garden and farmer's market vegetables!
Where to Start
Believe it or not, gardening has to start with a good strategy. The first step, if this you your first garden, is to plan a good (or perfect) plot. You may have a large, sunny, sheltered garden blessed with rich, fertile soil, but if you are like the rest of us, you will not. No worries. Simply requisition a spare area of a flowerbed or plant up an underused corner of your yard, however small. Just start somewhere, and be imaginative about what you grow. Think about what your family eats already, and then think about someways to broaden your palates. Play around with it! Make as much use of vertical and horizontal space as possible by growing climbers such as beans, tomatoes, and even cucumbers or zucchinis up walls, fences and trellises. Even in dense urban surroundings or areas frequented by deer, a few pots or containers can probably find a home.
Investing Your Time
The time that you take to plan, plant, and tend to your garden is an investment. In planning though, don't kid yourself- be honest about how much time you can devote to the garden. The history of vegetable gardening is littered with unkempt, overgrown plots started with the best of intentions, but abandoned when the time to maintain can't be found. Vegetable gardening is a labor of love, and the size of the garden is directly correlated to the amount of time that you will need/want to dedicate to it, Think it through, small is beautiful and easier to manage, however a large garden gives you more diversity. And each year is an evolution. You will learn new things to improve your garden each year- be open and take notes!
It is almost May, the days are getting warmer and we are a few weeks away from really planting, so now is the time the think and plan. Once you have made the decision that this will be the year you start a garden, or that you decide to dedicate more time or space to it, it is the moment to create your strategy. Write it down, draw it out and thing about where, how, when, and what.
We will be starting our spring gardening series of posts over the next month or so, and will continue this discussion with next steps of how to make your veggie garden dream a reality. Read on for more details over the next couple of weeks and as always don't hesitate to reach out to us either through out Contact Us page or on Facebook (make sure to like us #HappyBeingClean) with any questions or topics that you might want covered.
Thanks! I am heading out now to get my hands in the dirt!