Name me something more “summer” than spending time barefoot outdoors and eating tomatoes and string beans straight off the vine. I dare you.
I spent summers growing up doing just that. My version of “helping” my parents in our backyard garden was to simply pick and eat the food as fast as it could grow. I grew up loving fresh fruits and vegetables because that was associated with happy times for me. Now, as an adult with a family of my own, I have the opportunity to give my boys these same types of memories.
But what do you do when you’ve never grown your own food? Where do you start? Is it even worthwhile?
- Only plant things you truly enjoy. I think eggplants are beautiful plants with their vibrant color and odd shapes, but you couldn’t pay me to eat one, so I’m certainly not going to waste my space or energy growing them. Cucumbers, on the other hand, …sign me up. Think about what you enjoy and grow from there. You may discover in the process that your taste buds are expanding and you are willing to try new things as you begin looking for seeds and varieties of foods you already love!
- Start small. If creating your own version of a garden bed is intimidating or overwhelming, grab a few pots or a mini indoor greenhouse from your local hardware store. This is also an excellent option for those living in an apartment or without a large yard. You don’t need tons of space to grow your own delicious food!
- If you have space and feel confident in how your pots are growing, expand! Whether that is into more pots or venturing to the outdoors, you will continue to grow as your plants do.
- Make friends with your local farmers! Venture around a nearby farmer’s market and or simply connect over social media. Farmers are friendly people and they love to know that others are enjoying growing their own food as much as they do.
- Pick and consume your food at its very peak. Produce begins losing some of its nutrients the moment it is picked, so when it is not sitting in a crate and crossing the country to reach you, it allows you to receive the most benefits possible.
Growing your own food is incredibly satisfying. From the process of planting to tending to weeds and watering, to the first time you are able to pick the food that you put so much heart and energy into. You now have ownership over the food you are nourishing your body with!
Rachel Bagne is a Clinical Outpatient Dietitian at SwedishAmerican Hospital