Gearing Up for Gardening Season?
Save Some Space for Produce
With the days now steadily warmer and sunnier, backyard gardeners looking ahead to planting season should be sure to consider adding fruits and vegetables to the mix, to capture the appealing health and nutrition benefits that come with growing your own food. Keep in mind that a vegetable garden offers some powerful plusses for the environment, too.
With thanks to the University of New Hampshire, the University of Vermont Extension, and the Harvard Health Letter, here are some of the appealing advantages of growing produce, plus some tips on getting started.
1. Improving Your Nutrition
Food in its rawest, freshest form is not only the tastiest way to enjoy it, but also the most nutritional. Research shows that those who eat more fruits and vegetables are less likely to have chronic diseases such as strokes and cancers.
2. Staying Active
Gardening is a great way to get outside for some fresh air and physical activity. The proven benefits include improved cardiac health and immune system response, lower heart rate and stress, better fine and gross motor skills, and flexibility and body strength.
3. Boosting Your Vitamin D
Spending time in the sun ups your intake of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is crucial in maintaining healthy bones and teeth, and it can also protect against certain diseases.
4. Saving Money
There are powerful cost efficiencies in growing your own produce. A well-maintained food garden yields 1/2 pound of produce per square foot per growing season -- so a 600-square-foot garden (on which an American household would spend on average $70 annually) could yield some 300 pounds of fresh produce worth about $600 annually, according to the National Gardening Association
5. Cutting Use of Fossil Fuels
Non-local but domestic produce bought in stores travels an average 1,500 miles or more, according to www.foodroutes.org, burning fossil fuels, producing greenhouse gases, and adding to global warming. Growing your own produce reduces these effects.
6. Reducing Plastic Waste
By growing produce at home, you’re keeping out of your household waste stream all the plastic that often packages such produce bought in stores.
7. Reducing Pesticides and Harmful Chemicals
In a backyard garden, you have the flexibility to grow relatively small amounts of produce with little or no pesticides and synthetic chemicals – helping to keep those substances out of the soil and waterways.
8. Connecting with the Community
If you’d like to grow produce but can’t have a garden at home, check out the community gardens in Fairfield. Residents can garden for their own use as well as help produce crops that are gifted to those in need.
Want to get started on your own produce garden? Here are some tips:
- Start small and plant things you’d really like to eat.
- Pick a spot with at least 6 hours of good daytime light and access to water.
- Use contaminant-free soil.
- Consider using a raised garden bed, which allows you to control the soil and nutrient blend.
- Talk to other backyard gardeners around Fairfield to get a sense of what grows well in our region and when.
And regardless of whether you’re growing produce or not, if you’d like to make your garden really eco-friendly, here are some other tips to try.