Most of us aren’t relying on our gardens for sustenance, so why bother with a vegetable and fruit garden? Here are a few reasons off the top of my head:
- It’s an enjoyable hobby which provides you with fresh air and exercise.
- It is a valuable skill to learn in case our food supply is ever disrupted, and skills are best learned before you have serious need of them.
- You can produce better quality produce than what you can buy. The tomatoes you grow in your garden aren’t coming from a far away country, sprayed with heavy duty pesticides and fungicides post harvesting, or picked while still unripe.
- Modern agricultural practices, including monoculture, yearly plowing, and heavy use of fertilizer and pesticides, cause the soil to be less fertile and productive than your own backyard compost-amended soil.
- Growing your own produce gives you the opportunity to learn and practice the dying art of food preservation – home canning, dehydrating, and freezing.
My parents always had an enormous garden and my grumpy teen-aged self spent many hours weeding, hoeing, mulching, and harvesting. We also regularly trekked out to Fruitport, Michigan, which had many pick-your-own farms back then where we picked blueberries, peaches, cherries, strawberries – whatever was on – after which we prepared the fruit for freezing or assisted my mother with making and canning homemade preserves. I hated every minute of it, but I’m really glad now that I know how to do these things.
I’ve been busy getting seeds started and I’m trying something new this year. I’ve been saving cardboard toilet paper rolls by placing an empty plastic grocery bag in each bathroom, and I’m using those rolls to create seed starter pots:
Then fold each tab down, tucking some of them under and layering some over, to create a bottom for the container:
Fill the rolls with soil and place them in a cardboard box top or old leftover foil tray in a sunny window:
I’m also using leftover egg cartons:
When it’s time to plant everything in the garden, the entire roll can be planted right in the ground as the cardboard will compost away. You can leave the top half-inch above the ground level, which will help your little seedlings get a leg up on slugs.
So far I’ve got melons, cucumbers, chamomile, sugar snap peas and several kinds of sunflowers started, with more things to follow. I’ve also bought some strawberry, raspberry and blackberry plants to put in.
Have you got any garden plans for this year? Feel free to share any tips or ideas!