When you think of healthy eating with the push from today’s society it’s easy to get caught up in it, think it’s too expensive or complicated. “No gluten!” “Organic is best!” And as true as these are, not everyone can buy the $5 loaf of bread that is gluten free or has the time to make it, and not everyone can afford all organic foods in the supermarket. The important thing is that you get your minimum requirements and eat real food! Eat actual fruits and veggies! Want to know an easy way to do it that is low cost? Grow your own fruits and veggies!
People often forget the importance of getting real – not processed or sweetened or canned and salted – foods in their diet. It’s simple, easy, and does not need to cost a lot.
It takes 5 minutes to throw a simple garden salad together, you can choose the items you enjoy, top it however you like, then you can eat it for lunch with chicken, or as a side with steak at dinner. You can add some peppers and green onions to your morning eggs, or apples and bananas in your cereal. Put some pickles or spinach on your sandwich and throw an orange in your work bag. It’s that easy! And you can do it when eating out too. Ask for a salad or fruit on the side with your meal instead of those fries!
Veggies can grow anywhere. Your own back yard! Pots on your window! Have a cement or stone yard? Try checking out wooden slate gardening. Have a balcony and no actual yard to grow in? Build a grow box or put planters around the edges, put hanging pots in your windows. I had a planter in my window one year for green onions, and it was the best year I’ve had for them.
An important thing to note is even if you grow your own, you should still at least rinse them off before you eat them. White vinegar is a great thing you can add to some warm water to help clean off fruits and veggies, and it also helps them to last longer. Don’t always have time to cut, rinse, etc? Plan a day once a week to buy, cut, wash and put away all your veggies and larger fruits in single portions, and buy fruits like bananas and apples that require not prep.
I have four easy tips for growing a garden, no matter where you decide it will go.
Believe in your skills as a gardener. You need to know you can do this! Follow the recommendations on the back of the seeds or the label of the plant. Water, feed, and love your plants. You don’t need big fancy expensive soils or feeds. I started growing a potato plant in my kitchen in March one year. Just plain black soil, in a hanging basket! By May it was about 6 inches high on the stock and lots of roots! And don’t be discouraged if you do not do well the first time. Try again!
Don’t forget the sun and the water.
Place your plants in an area that has lots of sunlight. Water it daily, but not in the hottest part of the day. I like to do it in the morning, or in the evening when there is still sunlight but not over powering sunlight. When I moved last, we tilled a spot I thought would be great for a garden. But on observation, the area did not get a lot of sun. In fact 3/4 of the day it was shaded by a fence and shed. So we tilled a new area last year, right in the back, and in the sun! It was a spot intended for flowers but the food grew very well. We planted a tomato plant that grew over 7ft tall! As well as a cauliflower, cucumbers, peppers and a few other things. The strawberries we planted in the other tilled spot, not so much! Put overpowering plants far away from each other.
The first year I did my own garden, I learned a valuable lesson. Don’t out overpowering plants close to each other! I made the mistake of lumping cucumbers and squashes together. The cucumbers totally took over the squash plants, grew over them. I had cucumbers for months. My peppers, tomatoes and other veggies did well… but my poor squash… not so much. I think I only got one! So spread them out, put plants that grow up instead of out between them.
Make it fun! Get the family involved in it. Get younger children to help with putting seeds and bulbs in the ground, or help hold the hose when you water. Get older children to help dig holes and allow them to water on their own. Get everyone involved in the grooming Make it a game, see who can get the most weeds in a pile. Talk to the children about how these plants will soon turn into food they can eat! Get them to help pick it when it’s ready and wash everything off. And then make a yummy salad they can help eat!