As the months get warmer and we look to eating summer favorites like blueberries, peaches, plums, sweet corn and tomatoes, it seems more and more people take to growing these (and other) tasty produce at home. Take a walk to any local farmer’s market and you’ll find a number of local growers offering fresh produce, many of whom started their businesses from a small garden in their own back yard. Why? Because garden to table is a satisfying hobby that encourages healthful living beyond that of simply eating healthier food.
Why garden to table?
For those well entrenched in home growing efforts, the reasons why one might choose to grow their own food are obvious; for the rest of us, let’s consider the benefits.
It really does taste better.
When you grow your own food, you savor it more because of the effort it took to get to the table
It can contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
You have a better understanding of and interest in the origins of your food when you grow it yourself, helping to make better, more healthful choices about what you put on your place easier.
It’s good for your body.
In addition to increasing physical activity, gardening outside improves your health in other ways. It puts you outside in the sunshine where you can soak up some vitamin D, crucial for maintaining healthy bones and teeth (and a strong immune system). This is especially important here in northeast Ohio where anywhere form 60-90% of residents are vitamin D deficient.
Now that you know all the reasons why you should start a garden, let’s talk about how you start a garden.
How do you get started gardening?
Maximize Outdoor Space
Gardening is yet another way to maximize outdoor living and to live more environmentally-friendly at home but can feel difficult to get started. Start small and utilize the space you have. Don’t assume you have to turn all of your greenspace into a massive garden bed in order to enjoy garden-to-table food yourself.
Start your garden small. If you have a rooftop, side-yard or balcony, consider starting your plants in containers and then moving upward to take advantage of vertical space with a trellis system for plants that grow on vines (like tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, etc.) You can even use hanging buckets to make the most of a limited space.
Have a ton of greenspace you’d like to see become a lush fruit or vegetable garden? Make a garden plan to ensure proper seed spacing, irrigation, and hours of sunlight for each plant you intend to grow.
Seeds or starts?
There are three ways to begin planting a garden. You can use seeds, starts (young plants that you move and replant as they grow) or a combination of both. But how do you decide what to grow from seed and what starts to buy? It depends on your climate. If you have a short growing season, as most Ohioans do, commercial crops are often started in greenhouses and then moved to gardens. You can do the same at home: plant seeds in small pots on your windowsill or under heat lamps, and then move them outside when they have started growing.
When first starting your garden, remember leafy greens and squash are easy foods to grow from seeds; tomatoes should be grown from starters the first time you plant them.
Stop by your local garden center or garden club for seed packets and starts. (You may even be able to find seed packets for free at your local library!)
Upcycling for Your Home Garden
For many, one of the most appealing aspects of home gardening and garden to table eating is money savings. Growing and eating your own food will absolutely help save grocery costs in the long run and should be low cost to start, too.
Before you go to your local home improvement store to buy organic matter to add to your soil or purchase bags of organic mulch to cover garden beds, reach out to your local school systems, park system, or municipality. Many offer free (or very low-cost) wood chips or mulch to homeowners (typically from cast-off Christmas trees, downed tree branches, or lawn and leaf collections from residents).
Ready to cut costs and waste? Rather than shopping for nutrient-rich soil, save all your kitchen scraps, grass cuttings, and yard waste to start your own compost pile. In just a few weeks you should have a private source of nutrients to build healthy soil throughout your garden without spending a dime. You can even repurpose old newspapers into starter soil for your new garden beds or make a custom irrigation system from nothing more than H2O and your empty water or wine bottles.
Is it worth it?
Is garden to table worth it? Absolutely. There are many great reasons to eat home grown produce and many more ways to start gardening at home efficiently and inexpensively. Besides, the kitchen is the heart of a home. In preparing, serving and eating homegrown produce you bring your outdoor space in with each meal, extending your kitchen well beyond the four walls of your house and adding to the ways you can enjoy your living space each day.
Looking to build your dream kitchen before hosting your next garden to table dinner party? Let our experts help make your vision a reality by reaching out today.