Growing some of your own food is a great way to save some funds on shopping, get a little exercise, relieve stress and make productive use of space. We can grow organic food for the best in freshness and flavor, as well as to recharge the nutritional content of our meals, which have become largely lacking at the hands of industry. There are plenty of reasons — it’s well documented — to grow a garden at home.
Assuming that we can all agree on that, it’s time to start figuring out how to best get our gardening done. It’s easy to up our cultivating ante by upcycling materials in the garden, taking advantage of free resources to build up our soil and/or making efficient use of our spaces. Free (or very nearly) stuff for constructing awesome gardens are available all over the place.
And, we can also be shrewd with how we expand our garden production. It doesn’t always require rushing out to the store for seeds or running off to the nursery for seedlings. We have the capacity to multiply our garden supply, both in diversity and sheer mass, for absolutely free. In fact, it’s really easy.
Save and Store Seeds
Back in the days before Monsanto and its patents took over the agricultural world, it was standard practice to save seeds from the current crop for next year’s. We have the capacity to do that in our home gardens. All we have to do is allow some of the healthier crops to reach maturity on the plant, often drying out there. We harvest them for the seeds instead for food. One tomato can equate to over a hundred tomato plants next year.
Clippings and Cuttings
Many plants can be multiplied by simply cutting a branch from them and rooting the segment in a bit of water or quality soil. When using fresh herbs from the garden, this is great. Rather than pulling off leaves, a switched-on gardener will cut off a small branch, leave a little greenery at the top and root the stem in a bottle of water. One basil plant can easily become twenty or thirty over a season.
Bulk from the Board
It’s rare that we can grow all of the produce we need or want, but it can also be a blessing sometimes. Our cutting board scraps are often full of potential food for our table. Not only can we save seeds from our market veggies, but many will regenerate from the parts we toss into the compost bin (yes, we better all be composting). A thrifty gardener will rue having had to buy a head of lettuce and be sure to plant the bottom of it, which start to grow new leaves for future salads.
Hunt the Compost Heap
Speaking of compost, in those early days, before it has heated up too much, the compost heap is a great place to find surprise sprouts from discarded fruits and vegetables. It makes sense, of course. All of that food decomposing is seriously loaded with nutrients, and often what we throw into it contains seeds. The situation is ripe for spontaneous growth, and some plants — papayas, tomatoes, and squashes — will cultivate themselves. We just have to be heady enough to take advantage.
Foster Fruitful Friendships
One of the greatest sources of new seeds and plant varieties is friends. Gardeners who network a little, visit farmers’ markets and participate in food festivals and go to seed swaps, always have a wealth of exciting things to put in their garden. Friends and fellow farmers are likely to be growing something different from us and us from them, so we can all combine and cultivate more. It’s free and just creates more abundance.
Home gardens make us healthier, help save the planet and curb some of that wastefulness by cutting out packaging, international shipping, organic waste (Compost it!) and harmful chemicals. They promote socializing, both by being great settings and stimulating conversation, and productive activity in a modern lifestyle that is often far too sedentary. Plus, if we multiply our supply for free, well, we ought to be producing a lot of food for even less money.
Image source: Sean Winters/Flickr