Press-Republican

Columns

May 22, 2012

Benefits of growing own food bountiful

A good way to reduce your food cost and enjoy delicious produce is to grow your own.

Some vegetables and herbs can be grown in small spaces or containers, making this a doable project for most.

If you have not already thought about growing your own food, it's not too late. If you are ready to get started right away, it is, in fact, a great time to begin your garden.

FINDING A SPACE

Both traditional gardens (in the ground) and containers work well for vegetables and herbs. You may be able to add some vegetables into an existing bed, or if you do not have a space ready, it's possible you could dig up a sunny section of lawn. If you are renting, check with your landlord first. If you decide to go that route, get a soil test, as you may need to amend it. Adding too much of anything to your soil can do as much harm as good.

It may be more feasible, or even easier, to try container gardening. This enables you to control the soil (potting mix) and weeds more easily and can fit into any sunny outdoor space, even a porch step. In addition, recycled containers can be used to minimize the initial cost.

WHAT TO GROW

If you are new to gardening, it's a good idea to begin with some easier foods to grow. Lettuce and herbs, such as basil and parsley, are quite easy and offer quick gratification since you are eating the leaves of the plant rather than a ripened fruit or mature root. Carrots, bush beans and tomatoes are also good choices for beginners and can offer up more variety than a simple salad.

Read up on the foods you are interested in growing, as some should be started as seeds, and for other types, buying a young plant is a better choice (especially in the end of May).

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