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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Comments (16)

  1. Judy Johnson says:

    A garden is a must for me in the summer. Although I have a small amount of space for this, it is amazing how much you can fit into a small garden with just a little planning. Lettuce is a must, along with peppers, scallions, grape tomatoes and lots of herbs. I did take my rosemary inside my house for the winter and it did very well. And since there is an abundance of herbs by the end of the summer I dry them (I have an inexpensive dehydrator) and enjoy dried herbs all winter.
    Judy Johnson

  2. Krikri says:

    Actually a garden is more than a hobby. It is also about providing wholesome food for your family.I think nothing could be fresher than walking down to your garden one morning, plucking a plant and heading straight to your kitchen with it.

  3. I added a plot to my existing garden area this year and planted a spring garden…potatoes, onions, broccoli radishes, lettuce, spinach and cabbage. I just planted my summer garden this past weekend with green beans, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and several different type of peppers. Last year I started a strawberry patch and a grape vine which will come back every year (hopefully!) so I decided to plant some raspberry bushes and asparagus roots this year to add to the returning crops…I am having company over this weekend and I am making a salad with my own lettuce, spinach and radishes…I can’t wait! Knowing that it is fresh and free of chemicals (it’s organic) is such a good feeling. And the money savings!!! Also I just read that people that garden live longer because it is such a good stress reliever. There are so many benefits that you can’t go wrong with planting a garden.

  4. amanda Jones says:

    I’m a do it yourself in about every area of my life. Like most people, time and money are elements that are most times on par, but the quality o f do it yourself makes for much less spent in the long run. Gardening is a most pleasant endeavor, from picking out heirloom seeds to drying herbs under the crisp fall sun. As a woman, its usually a surprize when I tell people I even work on my own car, like gardening, you just have to take it slow & step by step find guides & trusted people to work with. Everything must be put into a balance. Final word: what I’ve found
    http://www.seedsofchange.com/ —for organic seeds & http://www.fcpgroton.com/—–for my antique mercedes

  5. Theresa M. says:

    I’m very excited when Spring comes again and I can’t wait to start potting up seeds. We have a small garden but try to grow a couple of vegetables such as Chard ‘bright lights’, tomatoes, zuchini and peppers. We are trying lettuces this year along with green beans, and basil, coriander, blackberry and strawberries. We feel it is important to eat fresh, organic vegetables picked from the garden (if you can). Wishing you happy gardening.

  6. PAT says:

    tell me how to grow watermellons

  7. Greg says:

    Gardening is the only way to go! Unfortunately once you’ve grown your own its hard to go back to the Grocery store. If you grow what you eat it makes it more fun. Plus their are so many colorful varieties of your normal green veggies if you mix them in its almost like having a flower bed as well as a garden. Or you can mix in some flowers for that extra boost of color. I recommend reading a little about companion gardening to help keep out pest and increase flavors. Also Cukes’ will grow up a net too. So you can save on space that way too. Good Luck to all

  8. Diane Marie Goldsmith says:

    Why don’t someone give, Free, seeds of Vegatables, herbs, and flowers? I want my own garden which I have but everyuthing cost so much money. To make a nice looking garden or even a 1/2 crappy garden cost money. I have no money, it is horrible not to be able to buy or do things today it cost so much. Sorry, I lived in days when you paid what you got what you paid for.

    • Denise says:

      We pick up free starter plants from our local feed store they were about to throw them out they looked dead but all they needed was repotting, fertilizing, sun and water.

  9. Patricia Rutter says:

    How do you keep squirrels, raccoons, and other animals out of your garden?

  10. Dana White says:

    Hi Patricia -
    One easy way to keep squirrels away is to have something shiny near the plants – for some reason this distracts them – this has worked well for me with potted plants. Try sticking a old fork in the soil or lay out some aluminum foil, it’s also a great way to re-use some of your foil.

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