Grow Your Own Veggies at Home, Easily

by in Healthy Tips, April 16, 2009

garden vegetables
My husband and I have a good arrangement. He’s got the green thumb and grows our fruits and veggies. I cook them. We have limited space but still manage to create a pretty impressive garden. If you’re thinking of creating your own, get started with these hints.

Getting Started
Have you heard? The Obamas are planting a vegetable garden at the White House — the first since World War II. Best of all, they’re hoping the home garden will help teach kids about where our food comes from. Take inspiration from them and do the same with your family.

If this is your first time, take it slow getting started. Don’t feel like you have to grow a million things. Start with plants that you know you’ll use — beans, garlic, tomatoes or other produce you usually buy at the market. Growing even a bit of your own food is a great way to save money — we grow enough herbs and tomatoes to feed us for months!

To get started, gather a few pots, seeds, simple garden tools and a patch of soil (or a few bags of potting soil for a container garden) — be sure to find a sunny spot, too. Seeds and small starter plants are available from mail-order catalogs, websites and garden centers. If you’re not comfortable starting with seeds, starter plants are the best way to go.

No Yard? No Problem!
At my house, we grow the majority of our plants in large barrels and pots on our deck. Window boxes or a small patch of grass also work. Get your landscaping to do double duty.

When it comes to things like garden placement, types of soil and composting, check out these quick tips from Gardenguides.com. Our sister site, DIYnetwork.com, also has dozens of videos, guides and other how-tos for growing common fruits and veggies. And HGTV.com has some good info for when to start planting your garden.

Fresh Herbs
Herbs are easy to grow in a small garden, window box or on a patio or deck. Plus, when temperatures dip, you can take perennial herbs (sage, thyme and rosemary) inside for year-round enjoyment. Parsley (a must-have in my garden) is also a perennial, but it doesn’t do too well over the winter indoors. I usually re-plant it every year with my annual herbs such as cilantro, basil and dill.

Tomatoes
This fruit is a classic for the home gardener. Get a large barrel and some wooden stakes (or tomato cages) for stability, and you can grow a boatload — cherry, roma, beefsteak whatever your pleasure. We grow a few kinds, including sweet tangerine and super sweet 100s. They’re better than any tomato I’ve ever bought at a grocery store. Grow bunches of fresh basil around your tomato plants, and you’ve got a one-stop shop for fresh summer salads.

Cucumbers
We just started experimenting with cucumbers last year and were pleasantly surprised. Though they never grew quite as long and thick as my farmers’ market cukes, they were still fresh, crunchy and delicious. Cucumber plants like to cascade and wrap around something, so place a pot on a shelf or table or plant in the ground near a fence. Thinly sliced cucumber with red onion, parsley, rice vinegar, salt and pepper makes a perfect fresh side, too.

Peppers
Small bell peppers and chili peppers grow well in small pots. They reach maturity in a little over a month — so you won’t have to wait too long to enjoy them. I like to combine diced jalapenos, tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice for a fresh picnic salsa.

Strawberries
A petite strawberry plant will give you small jewel-like strawberries in the early summer and again in the fall (depending on the variety). A small patch in the ground or potted plant may not give you strawberries by the pound, but a few will ripen each day — perfect for a sweet snack. Gather and drop them into your morning cereal or yogurt or dip into melted chocolate.

TELL US: What do you grow in your home garden?

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