AUBURN, Alabama—Many homeowners grow their own foods at home. Some grow their own because they question what is in or on the products available at the grocery store or curb market. Others grow their own because they have the time and enjoy gardening.
What can I grow?
According to Bethany O’Rear, a regional Extension agent in Home Grounds, Gardens and Home Pests ,you can grow lettuce, kale, spinach and tomatoes. Other items one can grow in their backyard are carrots, cucumbers, radishes, broccoli and cauliflower. A person can grow just about everything that goes into a salad.
How do you grow these things?
- The vegetables found in salads need full exposure to the sun.
- O’Rear recommends that gardeners do a soil test before growing their own salads. “That way – you will know pH level, which is important when it comes to availability of soil nutrients to the plant,” said O’Rear. A soil test will also allow a gardener to know which nutrients the soil may need. According to O’Rear, there is no need to put nutrients into the soil that are not needed. There must be adequate moisture added to the soil. She recommends drip irrigation, but one can also water plants by hand.
What benefits come with growing your own salad?
O’Rear said the plants grown in your backyard should have the same nutrient value. When it comes to quality, backyard veggies usually beat grocery store options. The reason is that veggies grown at home can be picked and eaten at the peak of freshness. The options at the grocery store have to be harvested for days, maybe weeks before they hit the shelves. The quality of produce immediately begins to decrease as soon as it is harvested. The longer the time is between harvest and consumption, the lesser the quality will be.
O’Rear also mentions the satisfaction of growing your food as a benefit. “There is no feeling like the one you have when you look at your dinner plate and know that you grew a portion or even all of the food that makes up your meal,” said O’Rear.
O’Rear recommends researching the plants and finding out their specific needs. She says to find a sunny spot, keep the plants adequately watered and don’t be afraid to try new things. “If you have trouble with a certain plant, or even if you lose that particular plant or plants, don’t hang up your gardening gloves. Gardening is trial and error.”
What should I do about the changing seasons?
Not all plants are meant to grow at the same time. “With proper planning and planting, there is always something edible, waiting for harvest.” Regardless of the time of the year, one can find a way to grow a salad.
Image in story by AJCespedes/shutterstock.com.
Featured photo by AndreaDelbo/shutterstock.com.