Planning to Grow Your Own Fruits and Vegetables
1 of 9 in Series: The Essentials of Greening Your Lawn and Garden
Growing your own fruits and vegetables is one of the ultimate acts of green living. Not only does it cut down food miles (the distance food travels from where it’s produced to the consumer) to zero, but it saves you money as well. And if you use organic techniques, you can contribute to the world's food supply without contributing to the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides.
You can successfully grow a wide range of fruits and vegetables in your own garden without toxic pesticides by matching your local growing conditions with the conditions that the plants like best and using organic techniques.
When planning your food garden, you need to consider how much space you have, what your climate conditions are (including rainfall), and how much time you have to spend maintaining it. Keep in mind that most fruits and vegetables have the following essential needs:
Loose, well-drained, fertile soil: Nutrient-rich soil that gives roots room to grow leads to larger, healthier plants.
Full sun: Six to eight hours of sunlight daily helps plants grow more quickly.
Shelter from the wind: Exposed locations allow wind to damage or dry out plants.
Consistent water source: Water is critical for the optimal health, size, and juiciness of fruits and vegetables.
Protection from competitors: Plants should be positioned away from nearby trees or hedges that would shade them or rob their root systems of moisture.
In general, the easiest items to grow in any garden include:
All kinds of lettuce-type greens
Hot and sweet peppers
Consider planting unusual varieties of fruits and vegetables — especially ones that you can’t usually find in your supermarket. For example, yellow tomatoes and blue-fleshed potatoes can be stunning additions to your dinner plate. Many of these are considered heirloom varieties, meaning that they were once common but have largely been replaced by more commercially viable types. Choosing heirloom seeds and plants helps to preserve the diversity of the vegetable and fruit gene pool.