The idea of being able to grow a garden in city settings may seem scary for many, but the truth is that gardening is not rocket science. It takes very little time and crops like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, herbs and spices are very forgiving in most environments. Similar to the idea that when you cook your own food it tastes better because of the energy you put into it; when you grow your veggies, you savor it more because of the love and effort you put to get them to the table. Exploring backyard (or fire escape) gardening can also inspire you to make better choices about what you put on your plate.
Growing your own garden has many other benefits:
- It lets you decide what pesticides or fertilizers come in contact with the food you eat.
- It helps you eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and encourages the use fresh herbs and spices because they are easily accessible.
- It gives you more nutrient rich vegetables because you control when have a #harvestday (check out Oprah’s awesome hashtag). Vegetables that ripen in your garden will make more nutrients than store-bought vegetables that have to be picked early.
If you are interested in growing your own food this coming season, here are some tips:
Start with small and easy crops like peppers, tomatoes, herbs and spices. Buy the baby plants vs. the seeds if you are a beginner. Buy online or at a local nursery, NOT in home depot. I buy my babies at Burpee.
- Plan ahead of time, many of the online websites sell out by mid-April. You should have your plants in the ground early May so you can reap the benefits by mid-late July.
- Pick a spot with 6 hours of sunlight and ideally, outside (fire escapes work just fine). If you want to grow inside on a ledge, just be sure that it gets enough sunlight.
- Use organic soil. Again – opt for shopping at a small local nursery. The folks w
ho work at local nurseries are truly passionate about their work, I encourage you to pick their brain. Ask questions.
- Water and give it love frequently.
I have truly been amazed at how fun gardening has been (and the size of some of my crops – look at this picture with a zucchini and my dog!) and look forward to April when I can start planting. I take so much price when my harvest is bountiful and I can share healthy food nurtured by me with my friends. My final advice is to be patient as you cultivate this new relationship with your garden. As with everything else in life, anything worth having – takes time!