You could buy all your fresh produce from the supermarket or corner shop. Or you could take the healthier route and dedicate a little time and effort to growing your own at home. You don’t even need a lot of space. Here are some cool tips about growing fruit, veg and herbs, and why it could turn out to be a whole lot bettter for you than buying from the shops.
Tiny Space? No Problem
It’s amazing how much you can grow in a small space. Friends of ours, a family of three people, grow all the vegetables they need in a raised bed measuring about eight feet long by three feet wide and four feet deep. Not much bigger than a king sized bed. My mother does the same in a small veg garden measuring just six feet square. The produce both parties generate means they have hone grown veg to enjoy most of the year.
Why Growing Your Own Produce is Better For Your Health
Growing your own is better for you in two key ways. First, simply because you spend time outdoors tending your plot. There’s a growing body of scientific evidence to prove the amazing health benefits of simply being in the fresh air, outside instead of stuck indoors in a fug of central heating, aircon and air ‘fresheners’ 24/7.
There’s another body of evidence proving that spending time around plants and trees delivers another set of powerful health benefits, since the chemicals given off by trees in particular make humans feel happier, more energised and benefit our mental and physical well-being. And everyone knows that exercise is absolutely critical to good health. If you really can’t be bothered to go and do formal exercise at the gym or whatever, a regular hour or so of gardening will help you stay fitter and healthier.
The second health benefit to growing fruit and veg is the produce itself. You have grown it. So you know exactly what’s been used to grow it. With abit of luck you’ll have no need to use nasty chemicals to keep insects at bay, or fertiliser, or anything else that doesn’t occur naturally in the soil. There’s just you, some soil, regular water and a bit of sunshine… and you don’t get much simpler and healthier than that.
A few words about GM. Genetically Modified produce comes in for a lot of stick, which is extremely silly when human beings have been steadily altering the genetics of a vast range of plants and animals for thousands and thousands of years. But if GM bothers you, as long as you buy non-modified seed or seedlings, you won’t have to worry about letting GM produce into your diet.
Odd Shaped Veg? Who Cares!
Grow your own and you’ll soon realise the produce you buy in the shps isn’t realistic. It’s all too perfect, too uniform. Did you know that supermarkets discard mis-shaped produce in fabour of symmetrical fruits and veg that are all the same size. The tide is turning, finally, but plenty of suppliers still end up wasting perfectly good produce just because it’s a funny shape. Whatever shape or size your home grown stuff ends up, it’ll taste just as delicious.
Getting the Water Side of Things Right
Climate change is already making growing your own a bit tricky in some places. You might have noticed a string od unusually wet or unusually dry seasons. If your plot keeps running dry at criticaltimes during the growing process, you can make amends thanks to a good quality irrigation controller. A sprinkler controller providing regular and reliable drip irrigation to your beds and greenhouses can make all the differewnce between a sad, water-starved, wrinly or poorly-developed result and piles of beautiful, glistening, glorious fresh food.
Like all garden implements, buy the best quality irrigation controller or sprinkler controller you can afford and it’ll deliver the goods for years to come without a problem. If you spend peanuts, on the oither hand, it’s easy to end up with wifi irrigation controller monkeys!
Today’s electronic wireless irrigation systems are innovative, relaible, energy-efficient and a pleasure to use. No longer do you have to be home to control your sprinkler system. These days you simply buy an automatic watering system, and you can take control of your watering remotely without a fuss.
Supermarket tomatoes taste like nothing much at all. Pick your own, dive in and every bite will be packed with that legendary tomato flavour. Supermarket toms have most likely been refrigerated to keep them fresh in transit – sometimes from halfway around the world – and the cold temperature actually ruins the flavour completely. Pick your own, eat them without refrigeration and you’ll be taken back to a time when fruit and veg actually tasted like they’d just been pulled from the rich earth, packed with flavour and a huge pleasure to eat.
Natural Soil Additives
If your soil runs low on nutrition, you’re in full control of what nutrients you add back into it. Horse poop, cow poop, your own home-made compost, leaf mould, it’s all wonderful, natural stuff without a man-made chemical in sight. Another great health benefit to add to those we’ve already covered.
Happy gardening, even if it’s just growing mustard and cress on your windowsill, spuds in a barrel or tomatoes in a window box!