Growing your own food is great because it:
- Reduces carbon emissions
- Cuts down on waste and unnecessary packaging
- Lets you avoid carcinogenic pesticides and fertilizers
- Is healthier, more delicious, and more nutritious
- Helps you learn a new and fun skill
Not convinced yet? Well, what would you say if I told you that growing food at home can actually save you time, money, and energy as opposed to going the more standard grocery store route? Now we’re in business.
As a matter of fact, just about anyone can grow herbs, fruits, vegetables etc., at home. Check out these ten foods you can grow at home to live more sustainably or just avoid that annoying line at the supermarket!
Homegrown Magic Food #1: Potatoes
The staple of almost every household and diet (not you carb-freers), potatoes are rich in fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Potatoes are great because there’s just so much you can do with them! Bake them, roast them, grill them, mash them, slather them with cream sauce. Potatoes are the king of side dishes!
Growing tip: Plant a whole potato in a bag of compost, leaving plenty of room for the roots to sprout. Keep compost fresh and plentiful until your potatoes are ready.
Homegrown Magic Food #2: Beans and peas
Another dynamic duo (see #5), beans and peas are actually the unsung superheroes of the environment. That’s right. These little guys transform nitrogen into soil-friendly ammonium. Not to mention they’re incredibly nutritious for humans too, providing amino acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and proteins all in one tiny capsule. And beans and peas come in all sorts of variations including black, white, lentils, fava, red, lima, mung, kidney, green, snow, snap... the list is endless!
Growing tip: Beans need to be planted directly into the ground because their roots are too delicate to move afterward. They need to be planted in warm soil, around April time.
Homegrown Magic Food #3: Herbs
Herbs are what make the world go round. Maybe we got that adage wrong, but fresh herbs are definitely useful for adding a powerful flavor punch to any main dish, soup, or side you’re making. And since they take up such little room, you can grow a large collection of various spices to spice up your culinary palate and bring new tastes into your life. Plant the seeds, or buy an already-potted spice plant and keep it in the sun.
Growing tip: Oregano, thyme, mint, and rosemary can be grown inside or out, while basil, chives, parsley, and sage are happier when kept indoors.
Homegrown Magic Food #4: Leafy and salad greens
Spinach, kale, lettuce - you name it, these greens are the ultimate in sustainable living. Aside from the intensely-high nutritional value, leafy greens grow quickly in most climates. And you can grow one variety or another just about any time of the year to keep your salad bar well stocked.
Growing tip: Crushed eggshells and salt can fend off unwelcome predators (like worms).
Homegrown Magic Food #5: Onions and garlic
Both are staples needed in almost any recipe. Both have health and nutritional value. Both are delicious. Oh, and onions and garlic are both super simple to grow at home. Cut off the green shoots from an onion and plant them in the spring to get things started.
Growing tip: You can use the freezer to store onions and garlic bulbs for eight months at a time for extended freshness.
Homegrown Magic Food #6: Strawberries
Because...they’re absolutely delicious. Strawberries might not help you cut down much on your shopping trips, but they do make a most delicious treat. And freshly picked homegrown strawberries - there’s just nothing better in the whole wide world.
Growing tip: Grow strawberries just about anywhere, in a pot, in a bag, or in the garden. If well cared for, strawberries will keep growing new fruit year after year.
Homegrown Magic Food #7: Tomatoes
Tomatoes are another salad staple and are loaded with vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene (heart-happy food!).
Tomatoes are great fresh, but they have so many other uses as well. This delicious and controversial fruit-vegetable can be pureed into a delectable sauce, made into tomato paste, tossed into various dishes including quiches, and used as a topping for chicken. Meanwhile, when sun-dried, tomatoes make your mouth sing!
Growing tip: Buy a young tomato plant or buy the seeds. It’s a good idea to use wooden stakes to tie up the vines within your garden.
Homegrown Magic Food #8: Lemons
This is a little trickier than most food items on this list, but hey, when life hands you lemons...well, you know the rest. Lemons are jam-packed with vitamin C and can make your whole house smell delightful.
Lemons can be used to dress your salad, to add flavor to salmon or other fish dishes, or as a natural cleaning solution. You can also make homemade lemonade, or add to wine for a heavenly lemon frose.
Growing tip: Lemon seeds will take foreeeeeever to yield anything edible. So what should you do? Buy a dwarf lemon tree instead. Ideally, it should be two or three years old. This will allow you to enjoy the fruits of (someone else’s) labor right away. Keep the tree in a potting soil that is suitable for citrus trees and give it loads of sunlight (8-12 hours).
Homegrown Magic Food #9: Carrots
Carrots are another fast-growing plant that packs quite a punch in the health department. We’re talking vitamins B6, A, C, and K, thiamin, folate, potassium, niacin, and of course, a generous dose of carotenoids. And best of all, carrot seeds can start sprouting in just over two weeks!
You can grow carrot seeds in a pot or large window box. Use moist soil and plant seeds 1 inch apart from each other (if planting rows, make sure each row is 6 inches away from the next one).
Growing tip: Use potting mix that has lots of humus to give the carrot seeds the proper amount of nutrients they need to thrive.
Homegrown Magic Food #10: Quinoa
For those not in the know, quinoa comes from the amaranth family. While it’s often mistaken for a grain, quinoa is actually a seed and one of the healthiest food items in the world. Rich in protein, dietary fibers, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, copper, iron, zinc, potassium, vitamin E, and vitamin B1, 2, and 6, quinoa is also a low-calorie food that can act as an anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer, and even antidepressant. Take about superfood status!
Buy quinoa seeds and sow them ¼ inch deep directly into the prepared soil. Seeds will generally sprout within 10 days of planting.
Growing tip: Quinoa is a warm-weather food, so give it plenty of sun. Keep it under 90 F.
Home Is Where the Produce Is
And that’s just the beginning! Once you get good at home gardening, you can grow apples, avocados, pomegranates, berries, oranges, bananas, tea, squash, peppers, beets, and so much more. Not only will you be eating healthier, but you’ll be doing wonders for the planet.
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