Organic Home Gardening 101

Have you ever tasted a tomato that you didn’t buy from the grocery store? If the answer to this question is no then you’ve been robbed, my friend! Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to only have access to store bought foods. Living in bustling cities where you’re more likely to see buildings than a skyline, it becomes difficult to access farm fresh produce.

Many of the fruits and vegetables we eat come from other parts of the globe, which means they’ve been bathed in preservatives just to make it to your table. Eating organic means eating clean fruits and vegetables, and you can buy them at a Farmer’s market or your grocer.

But, what if there are several varieties of edible plants you could grow in your own backyard?
What if a yard wasn’t even necessary?

Health Benefits

CNN explains that home gardening has several benefits beyond nutrition. Most Americans spend Monday through Friday sitting at a desk for 8-hours only to come home and do the same. Gardening gets you outside and moving!

You’re lifting bags of soil, reaching deep into your garden beds getting a good stretch and moving around more than you did the entire day. Having a garden not only benefits you physically, but studies have shown that it helps your emotional health as well.
It reduces stress and depression and even promotes general brain health by improving memory, among other things.

Getting Started

• One of the most important things to consider when starting an edible, organic garden is the planting zone you live in. This determines which plants will thrive in a given environment. Plantmaps.com is a great place to find out which zone you’re in, so take a look before you map out your garden. If you’re living in an apartment and plan on having an indoor garden this won’t matter as much since your plants will generally just need a certain amount of sunlight, watering and feeding to thrive.

• Second important thing in getting started is deciding what you like to eat! Choose plant varieties that you know you’ll consume regularly and read up on them. You don’t want to plant a lemon tree just to have it dumping decaying fruit all over your yard. Plus, you’ll be more likely to properly care for your plants if they’re something you really enjoy eating. Some of the best plants to start with are fresh herbs.

They’re low maintenance, work for both indoor and outdoor gardens, and preserve nicely. A useful tip is to freeze herbs in olive oil. They’ll stay fresh and you’ll cut down on waste, not to mention cooking time. Just toss a frozen olive oil cube containing your favorite herb into a skillet and you’re good to go!

Third, choose a plant varietal that fits into your schedule. Fact of the matter is that some plants are more finicky than others are and will require more of your attention.

The easiest plants to grow for beginners are:

• Greens
• Tomatoes
• Cucumbers
• Carrots
• Radishes
• Zucchini
• Green beans

Keeping It Going

Once you’ve figured out what you’ll be growing in your garden, you have to figure out how to keep it blossoming. As much as we’d like to hope that you can “set it and forget it,” your garden will need regular TLC. But don’t let that scare you off! There are tons of helpful tools to assist you in staying on top of things.

For example, Smart Gardner is a free app that helps you plan the layout of your garden, find plant varietals appropriate for your planting zone, and even sends you weekly To Do notifications to help you stay on track.

Also, enlist the help of your family members or others in the household. Encouraging children to grow their own food not only teaches them a skill but also demonstrates responsibility in caring for something other than themselves. Serving the foods you’ve harvested from your homegrown garden will give everyone a sense of accomplishment and pride.

Organic gardening will take some effort to start but once it gets going you’ll soon realize the fruits of your labor (pun intended). It is an incredibly satisfying feeling to feed yourself and loved ones something that you’ve grown with your bare hands, and not to mention, outrageously delicious.

 

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