If you’re interested in green living ideas, you’ve probably considered growing your own food at one time or another. You’ve probably planted some rosemary and dill around the patio, or maybe a few pepper plants. If the thought of being able to eat organic produce right out of your own backyard really makes you feel like an environmental superstar, maybe you’ve even dug yourself a proper garden, complete with rabbit fencing and a sprinkler system.
But what do you when that little herb box has lost its appeal and you don’t have the time or the space for a serious garden? Well, it’s time to dust off those gloves and grab a trowel, because we’re about to give you a few easy, creative ideas that make growing your own food simple and fun. With just a little bit of effort, you’ll be able to eat organic foods that you grow at home.
4 Ideas for Growing Your Own Food at Home
1. Try edible landscaping. If you’re serious about growing your own food, your reward is a garden full of delicious veggies that you can enjoy all season long – or even longer, if you learn the art of canning. But even if your lifestyle or your property doesn’t allow for something so involved, you can still grow your own food by working with what you do have. You can even arrange edible plants in a decorative way.
Instead of ivy, plant grapes next to a trellis or arch – or use a hedge of blueberry bushes where you’d otherwise plant a shrub. Experiment with alternating the colors of leafy vegetables. You’ll get the chance to show off your design skills even as you give your family a way to eat organic backyard produce.
2. Think ground cover. Let’s face it: weeding is nobody’s idea of a good time. If you’re growing veggies in a small plot, you could take a shortcut by spraying chemicals to knock out those leafy little pests, but spot-targeting is tricky, and you don’t want to end up with toxins on your dinner plate. If you’re looking for green living ideas to solve this problem, edible ground cover is the answer.
Many berry varieties (such as strawberry and lingonberry) grow well without much extra maintenance, as do herbs like thyme and sage. Left to their own devices, these plants will fill in the spaces in your garden or flower beds, blocking weeds from access to the only thing they seem to need to thrive: an empty patch of ground of any kind whatsoever. Don’t let ‘em have it.
3. Find friends for your veggies. The knowledge that certain edible plants grow well next to other types of plants is not new. Certain Native American tribes relied upon an agricultural concept known as “The Three Sisters.” Basically, when corn, beans and squash were planted in close proximity to one another, they thrived.
Here’s how the idea works: corn provides a suitable structure for beans to grow upon, while beans enrich the soil with nitrogen, an essential component of growth for the other plants. Meanwhile, the squash provides ground cover hear the corn and beans, blocking weed growth. When you see it spelled out like this, you can see how elegant it is.
The concept of mutually beneficial growing relationships is called companion planting, and it can really reduce the amount of maintenance work you have to do. When you plant complementary foods next to one another, you’ll help control pests, improve the soil quality and even enhance flavor. To enjoy the benefits of the vegetable buddy system, try matching cucumber with cabbages or tomatoes with celery. On the other hand, don’t grow veggie enemies together – keep those tomatoes away from your corn. You might be tempted with limited space, but you’ll thank us later.
4. Make a garden out of recyclables. Looking to be as eco friendly as possible with your garden? Mix a few repurposed household items in with your raised beds and clay pots. You can pin old gutters against a wall and fill them with single rows of leafy vegetables or herbs. If you cut away the top half of a milk jug and poke a few drainage holes in the bottom, you’ve got an excellent above-ground planter. Treadless tires, aged buckets or even a pair of worn boots can all be used as funky, creative gardening containers.
We hope these tips will get you excited about digging in the dirt again. If you need a little extra incentive, don’t forget the benefits of growing your own food – you’ll be avoiding GMOs, pesticides and unsafe food handling practices, plus you’ll get the absolute freshest and most local produce possible at a pretty steep discount. You’ll be able to eat organic produce that was grown mere feet from your table. When you think about it, there are few green living ideas that have such a positive impact on the environment.
Do you have some advice for readers who are trying to grow the best home garden that blood, sweat and tears can produce? Please comment below!