When I was a kid, my dad had a great big vegetable garden in the back yard. He worked it religiously, growing copious amounts of cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, eggplants, corn, dill, mint and lavender. On Sunday’s in the Fall our kitchen would turn into a factory of salt, vinegar, steam, bottles, and boxes. Our basement cupboards were full of preserved food and onions and garlic hung to dry in his office. Dad preserved as much of his bounty as possible. I grew up thinking that living without a vegetable garden was simply not possible.
If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. That’s not gallons, but barrels.
From Oily Food, by Steven Hopp
But why do it? Why grow a vegetable garden?
Hey! It is food. It keeps you alive.
Every day we hear still another story about contaminated food. Salmonella this, melamine that. E. Coli. Listeria. Cyclospera. Ick. Then there are the pesticides (according to the EPA, we use over one billion tons of pesticides on our food crops every year) and genetically modified foods (GM), additives, preservatives….It all just makes you want to know where your food comes from! For me, this is one of the most compelling reasons to garden. With your own garden you know that the food you are eating is safe and fresh!
A packet of seeds costs less than two dollars. Saving seeds costs nothing. Buying vegetables in the store, however, is expensive. Every summer you can grow more food than you can possibly eat for next to nothing. When (and IF) you get tired of eating fresh vegetables from your garden you can preserve or freeze the rest for the winter. This past summer I grew nearly fifty pounds of chard for the cost of one seed packet – $1.59.
The food you will grow in your own garden will be far healthier and packed with more nutrition than anything you could buy in the store. Better health, better life.
Gardening does not have to be just a hobby. Gardeners can make a good amount of money working at a local garden center, running your own business, or working for a university or development group. A garden can be a source of crops that can be sold to your neighbors, at local farmer’s markets or roadside stands.
Several studies have shown that gardening for one hour can burn upwards of 400 calories. Try that out at the gym! Gardening involves walking, stretching, lifting and bending. Gardening can build muscle as well as give a good cardio and aerobic workout.
Vegetable gardens are a beautiful thing. A vegetable garden will add color, texture, smell and life to your yard or balcony.
There is nothing more relaxing than a beautiful and bountiful garden. The activity of working the garden can be immensely calming while the splendor you have created can lift the spirit. A vegetable garden can also lend a more spiritual link to life itself. Not only are you participating in the miracle of growth and the changing of the seasons, you will also become intimately linked to the process of nurturing your own life.
The more you know, the more you want to know. While fun, gardening can also be quite challenging. Insects or diseases in your plants will drive you to find out how to keep your garden healthy. Research on wind and sun patterns, growing conditions, suitable plants and vegetables you’ve never even heard of will drive you to fill your head with new knowledge. Garden centers offer classes and seminars and Universities often offer advanced gardening or horticulture degrees.
Security? Yes, security. Given the skyrocketing cost of energy, the threat of Peak Oil and global climate change, our ability to feed ourselves, particularly in urban areas is increasingly in doubt. Our society seriously needs to rethink the way in which we feed ourselves. I, for one, feel more secure knowing that I can grow a significant amount of my food right in my own backyard. The price of my vegetables is not at all dependant on inflation or other measures.
This website will help you get started with your own home vegetable garden. We will help you plan and begin your garden, troubleshoot and explore a number of alternative gardening methods and options. Note that a number of the gardening styles mentioned below are very alike, drawing on similar principles. Try them all and stick with the one that works best for you. Gardening is an ever-changing, ever-evolving hobby. Try new methods. Try new foods.