In the last year or so, I have grown really fond of planting and growing my own vegetables. I do it in the comfort of my house in different types of pots depending on the plant I’m sowing. It might not be enough to feed the household but that’s not the primary reason for me to do it. I haven’t really found out what the key triggers are but to see something grow that you have planted and nurtured by yourself is a special feeling. It also helps that most plants are beautiful to look at when they grow. At the time of writing, I have chilies, cucumber, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, mint, rosemary, onions, and parsley in different states and sizes. It becomes like a small ritual when I look after them, making sure that the soil is moist, that no insects are eating up the plants and picking leaves that have fallen off or turned yellow. With this said, here are 4 reasons you should grow your own vegetables.
1. You are likely to eat more vegetables
You probably already know this but vegetables are vital for your health and the maintenance of your body. Packed with a lot of different nutrients such as potassium, fibers, folate, Vitamin A, E and C they should be eaten at every meal. If you grow your own vegetables, you are more likely to consume them since you will always have them by an arm’s length away.
2. You are in control of what kind of pesticides and fertilizers that come in contact with your food
Store bought vegetables can come from different sources and different countries that have different regulations on what type of pesticides and fertilizers that you are allowed to use. A lot of these chemicals have a huge impact on the environments surrounding the farms where they are used. Growing your vegetables puts you in complete control over what type of fertilizers and pesticides that come in contact with your food. This is as organic as it gets!
3. Take benefit of all the nutrients in your vegetables
Some store bought vegetables are picked early in order to ripen on the way to the store so that they won’t expire before they are able to be sold. This makes them contain fewer nutrients since they are not ready when they get harvested. If you grow your own vegetables you can always pick them exactly at the point when you need them.
4. You can keep re-planting your own crop
I wrote this post about re-planting your basil cuttings some time ago, and the same is applicable here. If you grow your own tomato you can take the seeds from it and re-plant them to grow more tomatoes! What you need to do is to remove the seeds from the vegetable (this can be done on pretty much all the vegetables that you grow), wash them, and then let them dry for 3-4 days before you plant them.
The basics to grow your own vegetables
To get you started I will give you some starting tips about growing your own vegetables.
Where to sow
First up, what you will be able to grow is a little bit limited of the space in which you are planning to grow. I plant in pots that I keep outside, but you could also plant in pots inside or if you have lots of space in garden beds outside. The most important thing is that your pot (or bed, or wherever you choose to plant) has enough room for the plants’ roots to spread, and also enough room so that the soil doesn’t dry up immediately if it gets some sunshine. The greater you can get the soil depth the better, but I would recommend at least 20 cm (about 8 inches).
Position of the plant
Next up is the position of the planted vegetables. The plant like to be sheltered but still get sunlight so you should try to find a place where the wind doesn’t blow too hard but that isn’t covered so that the plant gets the sunlight it wants.
To use good soil is very important when it comes to growing lots of healthy produce. You can get your soil from garden centers. I always buy organic soil just be sure that there aren’t any added chemicals that I don’t want. To safeguard you can always add compost; this can also be found at the garden centers.
When putting the seed in the soil I recommend you do this in small cultivation pots indoors. Just as the seed hatches it is at its most vulnerable and will not stand against heavy rain, scorching sun or slugs. When the seed has hatched and has around three to four leaves you can re-plant it in a bigger pot or garden bed outside.
2 vegetables to begin with
Some vegetables are harder and take more time, energy and know-how than others. I suggest you start with one of these two (or both of them) as your first project to see what it is all about to grow your own vegetables before continuing further.
This might be my favorite vegetable to grow. It grows quite fast and starts to produce crop pretty fast. The plant is also very sturdy and strong making it a good plant to start with.
Start out by filling a small pot with 2/3 of soil and then sow the seeds 5 cm (2 inches) apart. Cover with 1 cm (0.4 inches) soil and water so that the soil is moist but not wet. Keep the soil moist by spraying it with water every day. When the seeds have hatched and have three to four leaves they are ready to be re-planted in a bigger pot outside.
Tomatoes grow very high so you have two options here. Either you support the plant with canes or tie it to strings that you attach above the plant. The other option is to put the pot on higher ground and let the plant “tumble” down towards the ground. Choose the solution that fits your garden the best, either way, is fine.
When the plant grows bigger it needs to be pruned in order to keep energy so that it can produce big and rich crops. So all twigs and branches that grow out from the main stem and is not a plant branch can be removed.
Cucumber is great fun to grow. They grow quickly and the plant gets really big and has nice yellow flowers before they start to grow the crop. In a similar fashion as the tomatoes, you should start out with the plants indoors and then re-plant them outside. Unlike the tomatoes, the cucumber plant doesn’t tumble that good so you should try to tie them to canes or let them climb up an espalier covered wall.
When the cucumber plant starts to have flowers you should pinch off any shoot that doesn’t have flowers to preserve energy for the cucumbers to grow.
Growing your own vegetables is not only great fun, it is also a way of staying more sustainable and organic which goes hand in hand with leading a healthy lifestyle. I also find it a bit therapeutic to be out and taking care of the plants. I hope this post has sparked your interest in growing your own vegetables. You can read some more about growing your own vegetables here. I really think you should give it a try!