Think, Eat, Be Healthy

Grow Your Own – Backyard Food

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Potted cherry tomatoes growing in Florida

Growing food at home offers so many advantages that I don’t even consider not doing it:

*Knowing what you eat is fresh, organic and totally pesticide, herbicide and additive-free

*More nutrition and flavor because it is harvested minutes before eating instead of days or weeks before and only when perfectly ripe

*Better variety because seeds are easily available for vegetables and herbs and fruits never grown by commercial farmers or seen on store shelves

*Seeds are much cheaper – you can grow 5 or 6 varieties of carrots for two seasons for the price of two 5-pound bags of organic carrots

*Better for the environment – commercial farming uses a lot of petroleum for planting and harvesting equipment and for transportation from farm to store

*It is very satisfying to be at least partly self-sufficient

*Convenience – it is much easier and quicker to step out the door and pick a large salad with fresh herbs and a side of steamed carrots and beets than drive to a store

*Good for the biosphere – home gardening is an excellent way to preserve increasingly scarce heirloom varieties

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Beet sprouts in a backyard container garden in Florida

I live in Florida and will admit that I have not yet discovered the trick of keeping a full garden going through the hot and humid summer season. Right now in mid-July my backyard garden consists of herbs, maturing carrots and beets, green onions and chile peppers. There are still several non-productive tomato and bell pepper plants hanging on and waiting for cooler weather.

During the late autumn, winter and spring, though, I hardly ever need to buy salad greens, peppers, broccoli, cooking greens, tomatoes or root vegetables. Peas of all varieties also do very well during the cooler and drier months. This year I planted fennel for the first time and it did quite well with a few plants still left to harvest.

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Sugar snap peas maturing in the vine

My soil consists of sand. For gardening there is one 4×8′ raised bed and a whole bunch of pots ranging from one gallon to five gallons. The herb garden currently has basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, mint, and lavender in small pots. There is also a potted aloe plant and a papaya tree in the ground. One lemon tree started from seed is not yet large enough to produce fruit.

Container gardening works well for me here because the plants are easily moved to the best positions for the season, can be moved for general yard maintenance and require much less water than an in-ground garden would. I am slowly experimenting with new varieties and placement to figure out what grows best when and becoming more productive each year.

Gardening is also an excellent way to:

*Ensure time outside in the sun each day

*Get productive excercise

*Be part of the natural cycle of life

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Red leaf lettuce growing in a raised bed