Healthy organic food from your own garden is very possible no matter where you live. With so many great tips and know-how available you can have a really creative, enjoyable and highly rewarding new hobby. Rising food prices and a more health-conscious lifestyle are factors that may make us want to explore alternative ways to grow our own food. Home-grown organic is the way to go, with the bonus of making you feel great.
Where I live we're surrounded by big farms, most of which produce fruit on a large scale. Each year I have been privileged to see how fruit trees are pruned, tended and harvested, then finally packed and exported.
Planting fruit on a large scale takes huge amounts of work and is labour-intensive. Local vegetable-growing farmers also grow for seed companies. Large equipment is brought in to prepare the land, and harsh chemical fertilizers and sprays are used; the orchards and vegetable farms work to a strict export standard. This is all very well, but it is not sustainable in the long run as mono-cropping and principles of organic farming are not utilised and the soil eventually becomes dead and barren. The constant viewing of this cycle results in an even greater awareness of the importance of growing our own as much as possible.
Put your health first and Go Green
We always hear the expression "we are what we eat". We can take a hands-on approach, thereby making it a fun project either alone or as a family. It's wonderful to observe the growth of plants into food, especially in your home environment.
Whether you have land or are an urban dweller, you can grow some, if not most, of your veggies and leafy greens. Here are six great ideas to work with.
1. Try hydroponics for growing in a limited space
Container gardening is one of the easiest and most simple ways to garden within a limited space. There’s also the option of a hydroponic system, which utilises a smaller space and requires minimal electricity to circulate airflow and water.
Simple containers or hydroponics enable tomatoes, spinach, and other greens to easily grow. Depending on how adventurous you are and how you feel, the veggies can roam and the choices are plentiful. There are many options and styles of these ready-made garden hydroponic systems in all shapes to fit into small spaces. The price, number and variation of products can be a pleasant surprise.
Make use of a planting calendar or check the seed packets for planting times and instructions.
2. Sex ( ..oops I mean container gardening …) in the city
It is easily possible to make use of a wide variety of pots and containers, and the best way to maximize your harvest is to use ‘companion planting’. This form of planting allows for the growth of several types of vegetables in the same space and the harvesting of different plants within the same container.
A flat or house with no garden, sunny windowsills, or any outdoor area/wall, can be filled with decorative containers and baby greenhouses and may be constructed from used plastic bottles.
Herbs are great in the kitchen; cut and leave to dry on the windowsills for use at a later stage. Your friends will be delighted by the fresh flavours in your cooking and they may even take some fresh or dried herbs home.
3. Finding and up-cycling growing containers
Local garden warehouses and nurseries offer endless choices of growing containers suitable for hanging on walls to accommodate vegetables or herbs. Trellises are suitable for ramblers such as squashes, and there is a large variety of organic natural potting soils, composts, coco peat and soil enhancers. The range of organic yummy plant food is endless.
Enjoy a fun-filled day at the local junkyard where numerous types of old baths, watering cans, or even an old pair of wellington boots, can be found to make funky planters. I've seen some fantastic ideas and tasted great veggies grown in unconventional containers. Potatoes do well in potato bags or used tyres, and even small fruit trees can be successfully grown in bags or containers.
Here is a list of veggies that grow well in containers
4. Turn your lawn into a food garden
A traditional grass lawn requires mowing, consumes water, is high maintenance, and is eventually dumped in a landfill (expensive). Why not keep some lawn and use the clippings to make compost? Think of turning your garden into your very own fresh vegetable and fruit market. What a fantastic way to bring up the children and, at the same time, feed the neighbours!
5. Make memories with organic food
Some of my sweetest childhood memories are climbing Mulberry and other fruit trees and over-gorging myself on the sweet fruit. I once landed up at the doctor with hives and a belly ache after being a glutton on Loquats in a neighbour's tree.
The bigger the project the greater involvement with the neighbourhood and community. Donate to the soup kitchen; and bottle, dehydrate, and preserve your fruit.
Certain types of fruit trees start producing fruit from around five years upwards. You can buy trees of various ages so it is to even have some fruit the very next season after planting. Fruit blossoms attract birds and bees, making the garden a real delight.
6. Calming nourishment
Not only is organic eating good for the body, but science proves that plants have a calming effect on those surrounded by them. Putting one's hands in the soil reminds us where life begins; it keeps us grounded and in touch with nature.
It’s difficult to describe the feeling of satisfaction when eating a meal or a crispy fresh salad grown by your own hands and labour.
Get involved in simple green living - it's a great feeling!