These days, we’re ll trying to be a little healthier and save a little more. What better way to be sure your eating locally while saving on your grocery bill then to start your own home garden. Regardless of space, there are ways to get started and reap all the fabulous benefits!
Benefits to your health
- Growing your own organic fruit, veggies and herbs insures that you are growing organic produce. Keeping an eye on your own stuff and using natural pest control means nothing but the healthiest, chemical free goodies for you and yours.
- Gardening is therapeutic! Lower stress by being out in nature and connecting with your food. It’s super relaxing!
- Get a bit of a workout! Strengthen your legs by crouching, your obliques and abs by twisting and bending and your arms by lifting, sifting and sowing!
Benefits to your family
- Spending quality time with your family by being engaged in project is a great way to cultivate many things such as team work, health and communication.
- Your children will see where food comes from and will have a better connection to food and health then those who get it from the drive through.
- A sense of accomplishment and pride in creating something that is beautiful as well as beneficial ; )
Benefits to your wallet
- There is no denying that buying a packet of seeds is cheaper then buying produce every week. Depending on the size of your garden, you can yield a seasons worth of produce for about a $1 as opposed to buying from your local grocer on a weekly basis. By the end of the year, you could save hundreds!
- Big savings on gas and time! No need to hop in the car to hit up the farmers market, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and other spots to get everything you need.
- Buying organic can be very costly so growing organic at home is the smartest way to have your healthy cake and eat it to!!
Benefits to the earth
- If we use less space for commercial farms, we’ll need to cut down fewer endangered rain forests and destroy fewer natural habitats.
- If commercial farms need to produce smaller numbers of produce, the less a need there will be for harmful pesticides that pollute rivers and other parts of the environment.
- Every year, millions of tons of vegetables rot because no one consumes them. Want not, waste not ; )
Ways to get started if you’re short on time and/or space:
- Root Pouch – made of 100% recycled bottles, these are a great way to garden if you are short on space. Pop one up on a kitchen wall so you have easy access to herbs or hang a few on a backyard or balcony wall to grow your veggies. Affordable, simple and space saving!
- GrOrganic – If you’re looking to get some fabulous, custom made planter boxes, along with the added bonus of hand holding, these guys are great. From a la carte garden boxes to full service maintenance of your garden, complete with irrigation, harvesting and so on, this is a no nonsense way to still enjoy a home garden without all of the work. Great for folks who don’t have a green thumb ; )
- Mini Farm Box – Similar to GroOrganic but a bit more affordable and a la carte, I love that this company builds kids size boxes too. Fun for schools as well as at home!
Or use anything that can hold soil to get started! Old containers and bins are fabulous and can fit virtually anywhere!
With help from my friends over at Your Daily Thread, they’ve got some great ideas on how to go beyond the veggie garden and how landscaping can be just as eco and healthy!:
A sizeable front lawn like Pepperdine University’s is hard to miss. The emerald green grass that spans Malibu Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway, however, doesn’t lead to the emerald city (of eco-living anyway). Consider this: NASA reports an estimated 32 million acres of lawn has replaced corn as America’s largest irrigated crop by area. That’s a lot of sprinkler action.
Suburbia’s manicured lawn that’s synonymous with “traditional” American front-yard aesthetics is, ironically, a British convention brought over by the Rockefellers (who just had to have it for their Kykuit estate). Forget what the Rockefellers told you, it’s a foreign, wasteful gardening concept when it comes to California’s Mediterranean climate.
“The lawn is the Hummer of the landscape; it’s a big gas guzzler, using lots of water and nonrenewable energy,” says L.A. based author Fritz Haeg in his book, “Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn.”
So, we ask, why not go beyond the lawn? Here’s how:
Garden with Native Plants
“Remove all or part of the lawn and replace it with drought-tolerant California-native plants that will save water, add fragrance, texture and wildlife,” says Lynnette Kampe, Executive Director of Theodore Payne Foundation (TPF).
Try succulents like Agave and Chalk Dudleya or ground-covering plants like low-growing Sage, California Lilac and Coyote Brush. TPF’s California Native Plant guide and Wikipedia offer dozens more. “Not all natives are drought-tolerant,” reminds Kampe. “California is a big state with more plant diversity than any other continental states combined.” So look for ‘drought-tolerant’ or ‘low-water needs.’
Russell Wightman, owner of LA Farmhands, suggests native meadow flowers and perennials, like California Aster, Poppy and Buttercup. “Also let your lawn turn into a meadow,” he says, recommending Marathon Turf. “When you let your lawn grow, it won’t need to be irrigated as regularly… [and] cutting a lawn too short weakens the grass, making it susceptible to disease.”
Create Edible Turf
You’ll save on groceries growing your own vegetables, GQ magazine reports, to the tune of $600 worth of produce per average square foot garden.
This can be as easy as growing some herbs like Thyme, Rosemary and Parsley, which are often drought-tolerant. Plant varieties you know you’ll eat, advises sustainability expert Kathy Kellogg Johnson, who grows cilantro, green onions and edible flowers like pansies (great for salads). “Squash plants provide consistent quantities and bell peppers are useful for crudités and grilled veggies,” she says. Artichokes have “beautiful blooms and tasty flowering buds” while wall-climbing green beans, cucumbers and snap peas maximize your space.
For more suggestions, see Russell Wightman’s Guide on how to start your fall garden and be sure to visit Theodore Payne Foundation’s nursery October 15-16 for its fall festival and native plant sale.