I have received quite a number of questions from readers on why they should engage in home gardening. Today I will attempt to address them, and hopefully convince a whole lot more people why home/school or office gardening is necessary – and fun as well.
My first pointer is the current global pandemic we are battling against – coronavirus. Today, as the pandemic takes hold around the world, panicky shoppers are cleaning out stores and basic foods are becoming increasingly expensive or difficult to find. As a result, even individuals with no gardening experience are searching YouTube for DIY videos on building raised beds and planting gardens.
Growing your own food can be as simple as having a few pots or planters out on your compound, to as complex as turning a large section of your landscape for flowers into a highly productive produce-resource. It’s not as difficult as you might think, and the benefits are myriad.
Five great reasons for growing your own produce include:
- It’s more nutritious – A diet with a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables is more diverse and healthy, packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to protect your cells. Foods with the shortest time between harvesting and eating retain the most nutritional value.
- It helps you obtain vitamin D – Not from the produce itself, but from the sunshine to which you’re exposed when you spend some time outdoors gardening. Vitamin D protects against certain diseases and helps you maintain healthy bones and teeth.
- It provides healthy activity –The physical activity required in gardening can improve cardiac health and immune system response; decrease heart rate and stress; and increase motor skills, flexibility and body strength. Getting regular exercise helps relieve stress, anxiety and depression while boosting energy.
- It saves you money –Spending a little on seeds, plant starts, and gardening supplies can save you a lot at the supermarket.
- Growing your own produce also enables you to better control and limit the use of chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides.
Now, you may be tempted to say “Why go to all the trouble of trying to grow my own when supermarkets already have plenty of fruit and vegetables?” And, yes, many supermarkets are normally filled with fresh, colourful produce that seems to scream ‘healthy’ – but all might not be as nutritious as it seems.
- While starting your own garden is a great idea, it’s important to realise that it shouldn’t be solely as a response to all the current doom-and-gloom. Instead, a little shift in perspective is warranted. The idea of growing your own food should not be seen simply a strategy for combatting hoarding, but as a way to embrace a more positive, healthy lifestyle the whole family can enjoy – now and in the future.
- Your own little ‘victory garden’ can be for not only food, but also a place to grow plants with herbal and medicinal value as well.
The secret to home gardening: don’t bite off more than you can chew
If you’re a first-time gardener, start off with one box or just a planter or two and get used to working in the garden regularly. Don’t build a large space unless you can tend it frequently.
Here are some tips that will help you start a successful home vegetable garden:
- Location, location location – Pick a spot to locate your garden that provides plenty of sun, access to water, and protection from harsh weather. If you’re planting in the ground, make sure you have a healthy, viable, mineral-rich soil that will support good plant growth. Of course, if you’re using planters or raised box beds, you have the flexibility to locate them more conveniently because you’ll be supplying the growing medium. Just be sure to locate them as close to you as possible for easier access that encourages daily visits to water and maintaining them.
- Know when to grow – It’s important to determine if your garden will begin with seeds you’ll need to sprout, or whether you’ll be using seedlings – known as ‘starts’ – that are started by a nursery and ready to plant when you purchase them. If you’re starting from seed, you’ll want to get going in March or April so they’ll be ready to put in the ground in May. If you are using ‘starts’ purchased from a nursery, then you should have located a good source and be ready to shop for them in May.
- Embracing home gardening to supplement your family’s food resources is as much a lifestyle choice as it is a dietary one.
Whatever your choice, we here at Let’s Go Farming are dedicated to supporting you. Here’s to you and your family enjoying happy gardening and healthy eating! Keep sending your feedback to [email protected]