23 Apr Home Grown: Food for the Soul
Growing your own vegetables is not only a great way to find freshest produce but it’s healthy for the spirit as well. Home grown all starts with the soil and getting down and dirty. While gardening, it’s great to take off your shoes and get grounded; wiggle your toes in the dirt and get your hands dirty. All while soaking up some vitamin D. This is all part of the process which fuels your soul creating food that nourishes in so many ways!
If you have never grown a garden before, don’t worry, acquiring a green thumb can be a process and now is a great time to start. If you have a sunny spot in your yard with good soil you can start by removing the sod and loosening up the soil with a shovel or tiller and adding some rich compost. It doesn’t have to be big. You can grow plenty in a 5’ x 10’ plot of land. A sample of your soil can be sent to your agricultural extension agency for testing to determine what you may need to boost its nutrient value.
If your soil leaves little to be desired then a raised bed may be the best way to go. These can be built simply with 4 boards or the stacking of rocks to form a boarder and then buying commercial organic soil. If you are on a hill use the grade to your advantage.
Maybe you don’t have land to plant on but you have a deck or balcony. Containers can be purchased or made for raised deck gardens. Vegetable, herb pots or raised containers work well just outside your door. They make pots in many different sizes for a variety of plants. A feed or hardware store has large plastic buckets that hold plenty of dirt or you may even consider a watering trough as a container.
You can use your imagination to create an artistic garden. Recycling an old acrylic tub could create a colorful garden for growing great goodies. Be careful of using a cast iron tub that may contain lead. My brother turned his hot tub into a nice raised garden. Beautiful “flower beds” can be made from old bed frames. Even an old toilet could pose as a pot!
Where you live on the planet will determine when the best planting time occurs. Traditionally, for those of us who have 4 seasons, spring is planting time. Some crops can be planted outside sooner than others. Frost will kill many plants and seedlings so make sure you wait until all sign of frost is over before planting things like cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers directly into the ground. Most cruciferous plants such as kale and broccoli are cold crops and can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked. Spinach and peas prefer to be planted early; they don’t like the hot summer sun.
Finding a friend who also wants a small garden is great for sharing seeds. Think about what vegetables you like to consume mass quantities of and plants those. Don’t be discouraged if your garden won’t grow certain vegetables. Plant what the soil prefers. My garden never seems to grow the easiest crop to grow; radishes. They go to seed before the root will grow. I can’t seem to grow onions either. So I don’t! But my garden loves to grow kale, squashes, peppers, tomatoes, and so much more.
Once your seeds and/or plants are sowed in the soil make sure to water frequently to promote germination and growth. The soil should be allowed to dry out in between watering because too much can cause seed rot. Then, let Mother Nature do her duty, wait, weed and watch your garden grow. Weeding is essential, especially the first round when the seedlings are just poking through the soil. Weeds can overtake young plants if they are not kept under control. Container gardening usually required minimal weeding. Keeping an eye out for unwanted insects is always important as well. However, love those bees our lovely little pollinators.
Your own fresh produce in your kitchen is a great reward. It is your own personal accomplished creation. You can start with just one tomato plant in a pot and taste some of the best tomatoes you ever had at your dining table. Are you ready to take the next step to nourish your body and feed your soul?
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