Salad leaves growing in the ground:
The idea of growing our own fruits, herbs, and vegetables is not a new one, but it’s certainly gained more popularity in recent times. Having a sustainable greenhouse garden of your own can be very fulfilling, as it literally gives you rewards for your efforts. What’s more, those who grow at least some of the produce they consume claim that the homegrown varieties are much more delicious than anything you can buy in a store.
Many of us might hesitate before planting anything at home simply due to the lack of space. To combat this issue, it’s best to pick some very productive crops when you’re just starting out. Here are some examples to get you going:
Zucchini is one of the best vegetables to have if you want to follow a healthier diet. It tastes delicious when sautéed with a few herbs, and you can even use a gadget to make zucchini noodles and avoid pasta. This prolific veggie will save you a lot of money in the long run, so do consider it if you want to start growing anything at home.
Just a couple of zucchini plants will provide for a couple or small family for the summer months. You might want to grow even more of them for the sake of getting a good pollination.
When the fruits become apparent, pick them when they’re around 4 inches long. This will give you that delicious nutty flavor and a firm texture. Make sure to check the pants frequently, as some fruits might be hidden under the leaves. If you let them get too big, they’ll become watery in texture and taste.
Beets are full of nutrients and flavor, but they can be expensive if you get them fresh from any market. Luckily, growing and planting these earthy roots is quite a straightforward deal. Once they’re planted, you have to keep them moist when the weather is dry.
Once you have your beets, you can use them in a variety of recipes. They can be roasted, pickled, cut up for salads, or even act as an ingredient in cakes. If you’re looking to lose weight or clear up your complexion, use the harvest in an ABC (apple, beet, carrot) juice at least once a day.
Growing herbs at home is usually very easy for most people. You don’t need much space for them; they can even grow in a small window box or a couple of tiny terracotta pots on your kitchen counter. One of the best benefits of having these plants growing at home is that you don’t have to harvest and preserve them (usually). All you have to do is snip off some pieces when you need them for garnishing or seasoning.
Homegrown herbs will pack a lot of flavor into your meals. If you already have garden beds, plant basil, chives, sage, or parsley along the edges. These herbs need a lot of sun to grow properly. If you’re growing herbs in a somewhat shady area, try cilantro and mint instead.
In case you have any leftover herbs, don’t throw them away just yet. If they’ve wilted or rotted and aren’t edible, compost them to help your plants grow better. If they’re still fresh, toss them in an ice cube tray and cover them with olive oil. Freeze this, and put the cubes in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. You can then take them out as needed for your daily cooking.
Carrots and Radishes
Root crops like carrots and radishes are among the easiest and quickest plants you can grow at home. They mature quickly, so you get the fruit of your labors relatively soon. You can even seed them both in one container and save space. Alternatively, use a planting bed that’s already been cleared. Keep in mind that both of these veggies need loose soil that’s free of clods and has decent drainage.
All you have to do here is sprinkle the seed in the bed or container. Lightly cover them with soil. Keep in mind that the radishes will be ready before the carrots. You can usually start pulling out the ripest ones in a matter of three weeks.
The best time to plant these roots is in the spring, ideally a couple of weeks before you get a final frost. From there on, you can continue reseeding and sowing after every fortnight. It’s best to give your crops full sun if possible, but partial shade is fine too. Carrots require full sun, so you might want to move your container after the radishes are harvested.
After harvesting the radishes, the courts will be able to spread out and mature. You can reseed both kinds of vegetables for the whole spring season.
You can eat both the bottom and tops parts of carrots and radishes. Try the radish greens in a stir fry and use the carrot greens in ravioli filling or pesto.
If you lack growing space, some berries might not be the best choices for growing at home. Fortunately, there are options like dwarf raspberries, dwarf blueberries, and strawberries on hand. These plants give you a lot of fruit but take up relatively little space.
If you’re looking at the dwarf berries, check for companies that offer some compact hybrid varieties. These can easily grow well even if you’re using a container.
Blackberries are an unruly bramble plant, but cultivation methods might help you control the space they fill. You can train blackberries and boysenberries using a trellis supported by your garden fence. This will save you a lot of space and also allow the berries to the maximum amount of sun.
Strawberries are probably one of the most satisfying berries you can grow in a limited space. The plants are compact and will do well in containers or small pots. However, the productivity of these plants goes down after some years, so keep in the repainting schedule in mind.
You can pant the strawberries as soon as you can work the ground if you’re in a cold climate. If your area has relatively warm winters, plant the berries in early spring, fall, or even winter. Once you have your harvest, you can use the strawberries or other berries in several ways. Blend them into smoothies, make homemade sorbets, or snack on them to fulfill your cravings.
Having a few herbs to snip or some fresh fruit ready for picking is a great way to add excitement and variety to our meals. You might be food shopping on a budget, but that little extra from your home grown crops will give your family the nutrients and flavor they need. Start by choosing one or two of the easy crops we’ve discussed above; even a little window box can make a difference.