Fruits and vegetables are full of nutrients and beneficial phytochemicals such as antioxidants, so it's not surprising that experts advise eating more of them. These days, supermarkets offer a wide variety of options, but have you ever thought of growing your produce? Here are ten reasons you should grow fruits and vegetables on your own.
- It’s healthier. By growing your produce organically from seed to harvest, you can be certain that no harmful chemicals were used in its production. You know the whole story. In addition, most heirloom varieties contain higher levels of nutrients than varieties that have been bred for commercial agriculture.
- You'll have a supply of food in your backyard. Just imagine being able to harvest produce at its freshest and tastiest, minutes before you prepare and cook it. Another bonus is your food hasn't traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles to your table, so you're reducing your carbon footprint.
- Growing your own is an adventure. There are many variations of your favorite fruits and vegetables that you may never see on supermarket shelves. For example, carrots aren't only available in orange, tomatoes in red, or zucchinis in green. Experiment with different varieties of your favorites and try somethings that are entirely new.
- You'll have a sense of achievement and accomplishment. Working alongside nature to produce your food adds an extra dimension to the pleasure of eating. Food tastes better when you've nurtured it and watched it grow from seedling to fully developed plant.
- It's a family affair. Food gardening is an excellent way to do something together as a family. If you have children, allow them to cultivate their own little plot. This might encourage them to eat more fruits and vegetables too.
- You can feed your family throughout the year. Eat what you can when it's newly harvested and store, dry, preserve or freeze the excess. This way you can enjoy your produce for months to come. You can also extend the growing season of some crops by protecting them from severe weather in a greenhouse or cold frame.
- Gardening keeps you fit. Planting, tending to, and harvesting your produce are excellent forms of exercise, whatever your current state of health. If you're fit and healthy, you can create a kitchen garden to cater for all your needs. If you're not up to dealing with a large patch, don't despair; you can grow plants in tubs or a small raised bed. It's even possible to grow many greens, herbs, peppers, strawberries, and tomatoes, for instance, in smaller containers.
- You can save money by growing some of the more expensive plants, such as asparagus, at home. And as you gain experience with different varieties, try using seeds collected from the healthiest and most productive open-pollinated plants from last year's crop, rather than buying new ones. In time, you'll have varieties specifically adapted to your local conditions.
- You can provide for your community. Exposing neighbors, friends, and family to the interesting diversity of fruits and vegetables available in the home garden is always appreciated, and is uniquely rewarding. Also, food banks and shelters are often in need of fresh produce. Check with your local charities for details on what types of food donations they accept.
- You can make money. If you grow much more than you can eat, store for the future, or give away, you may be able to sell your surplus at market stands or just off of the side of the road. Sell your produce straight from the garden or turn it into jam, chutney, oils, soaps, or a wide range of other natural products.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables provides you and your family with a new hobby, supplies you with nutritious food throughout the year, and keeps you fit. For some guidance, take a look at some of the many excellent books on the subject and begin growing your own produce today.