Auburn, Ala. –It’s officially spring time in the South, which means it’s beautiful outside and the ideal season to start growing your favorite fruits and vegetables. Whether you’re dreaming of starting your very own home garden and are not sure where to begin or have been tending for years, we’ve got benefits, helpful tips and nutritional information for any home grower.
Often times, people will ask why they should start their very own garden. “There’s no reason to not start your own garden, it can only provide positive benefits,” said Hunter McBrayer, an urban regional Extension agent in home grounds, gardens and pests with Alabama Extension. Moreover, home gardening can also be a very natural way for people to relax and get in touch with nature. “It can be very therapeutic and rewarding to start a seed in the ground and watch it grow,” McBrayer said.
Another positive benefit of growing your own fruits and vegetables is that you know exactly where your food is coming from. This includes knowing which fertilizer and pesticides are being used around your food. Lastly, when you grow your own fruits and vegetables, you can grow them to the size specifically to your liking.
When you’re growing crops in your backyard, the accessibility to eat them becomes much easier. Everyone knows that they need to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their diets, but some people are unfamiliar with the nutritional benefits they provide.
“Fruits and vegetables are low in fat, low in sodium and low in calories,” said Dr. Tamara Warren, an urban human nutrition, diet and health specialist with Alabama Extension. “Other nutritional benefits include vitamins, folic acid and anti-cancer agents.”
Another thing to keep in mind when eating fruits and vegetables is to incorporate a variety of different options on your plate. It is also recommended to eat fruits and vegetables once a day and at least three times a week. A recommended serving is based on age, gender and physical activity. The ChooseMyPlate.gov is a good resource for this information.
When it comes to growing fruits and vegetables, people often have a hard time understanding whether or not they want to grow organically. Conventional growing can be much easier than growing organically. “Home growers can grow organically, but it may be difficult to control certain pests,” McBrayer said. Conventional or organic, people will still receive the same nutritional benefits provided from fruits and veggies.
McBrayer suggested that anyone interested in home gardening should not hesitate to ask him any questions. “I try to work with everyone no matter if they have two acres or a small potted plant,” McBrayer said.
Based on proven Master Gardener training and seasoned with university research, the “Gardening in the South” series of books is packed with information, tips and tricks to being a successful Southern gardener.
Have a gardening question? Call the Master Gardener Helpline. To reach the helpline, dial 1-877-252-GROW (4769).
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