The Sustainable Diets Blog

Eating, Wellness, Gardening, Recipes and Loving our Planet. By Teri Underwood.

Growing: Resources for Starting Your Garden

Growing your own food has multiple health and environmental benefits. Here are a few reasons for gardening at home and why I include gardening as part of a sustainable diet:

  • Good exercise, fresh air and vitamin D from the sun, fun and rewarding, reduces stress.
  • Fresh clean greens and veggies full of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant chemicals that maintain and improve health and prevent illness.
  • Gardening encourages more vegetables in your daily diet and the fresh vegetables taste fantastic.
  • Growing your own helps to reduce your diet-related greenhouse gas emissions, no packaging, no pesticide residues.
  • Spiritually rejuvenating, helps you stay connected to the soil and your food, and ohhhh—the sweet smell of mother earth!

In my backyard garden I have several 8 foot by 4 foot garden beds that I pack with vegetables using the Biointensive gardening method. In this method of gardening you prepare the soil very deep allowing more space for the roots of closely planted vegetables. Pictured below are two beds, one raised, one covered with a hoop and greenhouse plastic that lets in 87% of the outdoor light. Another method of home gardening for growing food in limited space is the popular Square Foot Gardening System developed by Mel Bartholomew, founder of Square Foot Gardening Foundation (SFGF). According to the SFGF website, Mel “created the Utah-based 501(c)3 nonprofit in order to spread the message of Square Foot Gardening through humanitarian projects around the globe.”

Another great resource for the home garden or any farmer for that matter is  The Rodale Book on Composting. I love to compost. Between composting and recycling I have reduced my garbage to almost nothing and it satisfying to know that all my kitchen scraps will be nutrients to build healthy soil. I keep a compost bucket under the sink and when it is filled it goes into my garden composters. Every spring I turn the rich compost into the soil before planting.

 

Raised garden bed growing heirloom potatoes.
Garden covered with large cold frame (hoop house) to extend the season

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