Grow Your Own Food for Nutrition and Mental Wellbeing

Brian Sodoma

Home gardening is about more than just getting fresh vegetables and herbs right from your own backyard. Aside from the easy access to tasty ingredients for your favorite dishes, gardening has also been proven to boost our moods and self-esteem, lower our grocery costs and stress levels, and even reduce our risk of heart disease and strokes.

With quarantine measures still in place in much of the world, some people are finding that a backyard garden or even just a few planting boxes on the kitchen counter provide a great escape, not to mention a way to get fresh produce without a trip to the store.

Thinking about jumping on the gardening bandwagon while on lockdown? Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re trying out your green thumb for the first time.

Keep it simple

If you’re new to home gardening, it's best to start small. Certain vegetables and herbs are much easier to grow than others and yield more crops with minimal effort. For example, one inexpensive tomato plant can yield up to 10 pounds of tomatoes

Tomatoes, squash, and peppers also produce continually over longer stretches of time, whereas other vegetables, such as carrots and corn, are harvested a single time and then must be replanted. Ask a local nursery about which vegetables do well in your region and pick the ones you enjoy eating.

Small footprints

It’s also important to start with a small footprint. If you have a backyard, pick an area with ample sun throughout the day. A roughly 10 by 10-foot area with no more than five varieties is adequate to start.

If you don’t have a yard, perhaps growing herbs on a sill in pots or a planter is for you. Herb gardens are much easier to tend to than vegetable plots. They don’t take up much space, the seeds are inexpensive, and you can move them around if you feel certain windows offer better sun exposure for your herbs.

Here are some herbs that are easy to grow that will add plenty of flavor to your dishes:

  • Basil
  • Curry
  • Fenugreek
  • Fennel
  • Coriander
  • Ginger plant
  • Turmeric plant

If you’d like to grow vegetables in small containers, radishes, lettuce leaves, spring onions, and even tomatoes will grow abundantly in confined areas. Start with seeds, read the instructions for the best conditions, and then watch the vibrant nutrient-filled ingredients grow before your eyes!

Growing your own food and mental wellbeing

It’s important to remember that growing your own food can be gratifying work, but it still requires consistent effort. Before starting a garden or growing herbs in containers, remember that the process may have some frustrating moments, particularly if a variety of vegetable or herb is not growing as expected. You may want to build a network of other gardeners to help you better understand which vegetables and herbs thrive and who can offer tips if you run into problems.

If you're eager to start your garden, purchasing small plants and sprouts rather than seeds is a good way to speed up the process. If you're planting outdoors, keep in mind that starting from seeds often means planting them inside in containers weeks or even months before the last frost. Otherwise, they may sprout too late in the season for you to see a good crop.

COVID or not, most of us could use a little stress relief in our lives, not to mention more fresh veggies and herbs in our diets. If you've found yourself with a little extra downtime recently, place a curbside pickup order with your local nursery and start your very own home garden today!