I think there are probably 2010 great reasons to Plant a Vegetable, Herb, Fruit garden in 2010, but I have dinner plans here in a short while, so I’m going to give you just 10 good ones.
1. You control what you eat. For years, I just assumed that everything I ate was safe and fresh. It never occurred to me to ponder where it came from, who grew it, who picked it, what it was planted in, or what it was sprayed with. Not to mention, whether the seeds had been genetically modified to make the plant more pest resistant, to have fewer seeds, to grow bigger and faster, or what any of that meant. Many of these things, I’m still learning. I know exactly what I am planting, that no chemicals are sprayed on any of it, and that no non-organic fertilizer has touched my vegetables. I know what I’m eating and importantly, what I’m not eating.
2. Home grown food is as fresh as it gets. Vegetables start to lose valuable nutrients the moment they are picked. Fruits ripen very quickly after being picked, and can be stored for long before they go bad. Fresh food lasts a lot longer, and is more nutritious. You are able to harvest only what you need at mealtime, as well. Much of what is available at the grocery store has been sitting in a truck for days making its way from Mexico, Brazil, California, wherever.
3. Fresh produce tastes better, because it is fresher and picked when ready, not ripened in a box in the back of a truck. Fresh herbs make everything taste better, and there is nothing like having all of the herbs you use, available for snipping right from the yard or patio.
4. Eating home grown foods is good for the environment. The fewer trucks on the roads transporting fruits and vegetables to the grocery store helps save energy and fossil fuels, which is good for the Earth.
5. Growing fruits and vegetables, especially from seed, is economical. A 1 gram packet of lettuce seeds will provide a continuous supply of lettuce for several weeks, for the cost of $1.99 or less. A bundle of onion starts, about 50 onions, is $1.50. When properly stored, onions can last up to a year. Heirloom tomatoes were $5.99 a pound at my local store this Spring and Fall. One heirloom tomato plant cost around $2.00 at a local plant sale. Seeds are even less, and plants produce fruit for at least one season. There is an initial cost to get a garden set up and fill it with good soil, and the soil should be amended from time to time. Amending with compost is recommended, and if you start a compost pile or bin, compost is free, (leaves, yard clippings, vegetable scraps)
6. Gardening doesn’t take a lot of time, unless you want to spend lots of time gardening. Plant, water, harvest, eat. It is pretty simple if you provide good soil and have adequate sun. Nature does most of the work.
7. Gardening is relaxing in a stressful world. I find that I get my most creative ideas, when I’m digging in the soil, whether dropping in seeds, or digging hole for transplants.
8. Gardening provides a bit of free exercise, and the opportunity to get outside and breath in the air and feel the sunshine.
9. Children will eat what they have participated in growing. Kids love to garden and are more willing to eat vegetables they had a hand in bringing to the table. Watching the progression of seeds in the soil, as they grow into something edible, is fascinating and fun!
10. Austin and the surrounding area has a year round growing season. Every month is a month to plant and a month to harvest. You can eat well all year long with a garden.
If growing your own foods sounds like something you might like to do, but don’t know how to get started, or don’t own a wheelbarrow and shovel, we can come get you set up with a raised bed filled with good organic soil, and seeds or plants that are season, and get you started. In 2010, we plan to offer some continued support options should you find you need help along the way. For the do-it-yourselfers, we have kits available for pick up, and can offer advice on good soil, plant and seed resources, if you wish.
2009 was a great gardening year for me. Here are 10 reasons I’m glad I became a gardener, plus 1 reason I wish I’d picked the broccoli sooner. With all the lessons I learned this year, I’m truly excited about the possibilities of 2010.