Guest Post By: Victoria Ward
According to the latest numbers by the department of agriculture, the cost of feeding a family is in the realm of $289 per week. That’s an enormous $1,156 per month. Mark Lino, a USDA economist reports that the price of food has increased at least 32% in the last 10 years.
In the war against obesity, many families are struggling to provide healthy, nutrient-rich foods for themselves and their children. It’s so much cheaper to buy high fat, low-nutrient foods from fast food restaurants that obesity has become an epidemic in the past several decades.
The National Center for Health Statistics states that the prevalence of obesity rose steadily from 19.4% in 1997 to 31.4% for the period January-September 2017. With the rising cost of food, and increasing obesity you ask yourself, ‘How am I going to feed my family healthy meals?’
Why should I grow produce at home?
Developing a home garden is actually very easy and provides many positive benefits. The overwhelming reason to grow at home is because it’s so cost effective. There are actually many ways to create your own affordable garden at home. Here are a few farming tips that may help you on your way to delicious home-grown fruits and vegetables.
- Picking the right spot
- A sunny spot is ideal for your new garden. If there is too much shade, the produce will not thrive. Most crops need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight in order to flourish. If your backyard is shaded, you’ll want to consider planting in the front.
- Choosing good soil for your crops to grow is essential. Soft soil allows the plants’ roots to delve much deeper. Adding fertilizer also enriches the quality of the soil.
- Always start small, working up to scale. Especially when you’re a novice, smaller gardens are much easier to manage. Try aiming for a plot that is 15X10 feet. With that space, you will be able to grow enough for your entire family without being overwhelmed.
- If you’re unable to plant directly into the ground, you can even grow a garden using containers. Using containers to plant your vegetable garden allows you to plant in smaller spaces such as apartments or shared housing. If you have a small patio or front stoop, hanging plants can utilize vertical space as well.
- Choosing the right plants
Picking versatile crops to grow are very important toward starting your garden. You can usually pick up plants at your local big box hardware store or farmers market. The type of plants you choose doesn’t matter, but it’s wise to consult an experienced gardener to know which crops do well in your area. Some suggestions are tomatoes, zucchini squash, peppers, cabbage, bush beans, lettuce, beets, radishes, carrots and chard. Also consider what vegetables you would usually buy at the grocery so that you can reduce your weekly bill.
- Growing healthy vegetables
There are a few things to consider about growing vegetables in addition to picking the right spot and choosing the right vegetables to yield a crop.
- Ensure you have adequate space. When purchasing your plants there should be information about what plants pair well together. You want to make sure that there are not tall plants placed next to shorter plants. The smaller ones will not thrive due to lack of sunlight, and the plants will compete for nutrients.
- You can grow your plants from seed, but as a novice gardener we would suggest buying saplings instead.
- Refer to a farmer’s almanac to decide which seasons are best to plant, and when to harvest your new crops.
Gardening is a 12,000-year-old practice. There is a certain pride and pleasure that can be taken from growing your own food. Not only will your family benefit from the reduced grocery bills, but the connection you make with your land is priceless.
By Victoria Ward for www.sustainabilityactive.com