Americans seem to turn to gardening in tough economic times. During the Great Depression, relief gardens provided emergency food. During World War I and II, Americans created “Victory Gardens,” and during last year’s growing season, the gardening industry reported a spike in seed sales. Growing vegetables in your backyard can save you money over buying all of your produce at the grocery store. And, added money in your pocket is just one of many benefits of vegetable gardening.
Growing delicious veggies is easy and truly enjoyable. Somehow it really does taste better if you grow it yourself. It is very satisfying to see your work go from garden to table. My husband and I are about to enter our fifth growing season.
In a backyard garden that consists of one 4′ x 8′ raised bed, a few pots, and a narrow strip of land, we grow basil, blue berries, cilantro, cucumbers, garlic, tomatoes, onions, corn, zucchini and several varieties of lettuce. Here are a few things I’ve learned about planting an edible garden:
– Give your plants room to grow. Pay attention to the growing dimensions listed on seed packets and plants because they will crowd each other out if you don’t give them room.
– One single plant can grow a lot of food. Wow! I had no idea how much fruit one single 4″ tomato plant could grow. One plant was more than enough for my family of three.
– Find a good nursery and ask a lot of questions. I have some terrific gardening books, but the best help I’ve received was from the staff at a neighborhood nursery. They literally told us when to plant what, how to prepare our soil and how to fertilize.
– Try something different. While you should certainly grow your favorite vegetables, part of the fun of having a garden is growing things you can’t readily get in the grocery store, or growing different varieties of your favorites.
To all you new and seasoned gardeners out there, happy growing and let’s hope for sun sometime soon.
Erika Weisensee is a mom, a writer and a native Ore
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