Poll: Do You Grow Any of Your Own Food?

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By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/16/2010 7:00 AM   :  366 comments   :  21,131 Views

Like most of you, I love spring—and not just because it allows me to enjoy the outdoors. I am also excited because it marks the start of gardening season! With all the environmental and economic troubles we're facing, gardening is on the rise. Growing your own food on your own land is local food at its best. And it's inexpensive to boot! While healthy food does cost more at the store, growing your own fruits and vegetables can save you tons of money over the course of one season. All you need are some seeds, some dirt and a little water and you can grow your own food!

I am just beginning to plan my new garden and I can't wait to get my hands in the dirt. I've been daydreaming about my garden plans and all the fresh, delicious bounty my little plot will yield in the coming months.

This has led me to wonder: Do you grow any of your own food?

This will be the third year that I grown some of my own food. I had to teach myself how to garden since no one in my family showed me the ropes when I was a kid, and I admit that it seemed so overwhelming when I first started out. My house sits on one tiny lot (just one-tenth of an acre), and a large portion of my land is shaded by five trees. To say my gardening space is limited would be an understatement. But I have not let it stop me. Gardening connects us with the earth, the seasons and the weather. It gets us active and outdoors so we can soak up some vitamin D and burn calories. But most importantly to me, it minimizes our impact on the environment and allows us to save money while still eating fresh, delicious and healthy food. Even if all you have is a porch, windowsill or small balcony, you can still garden!


My first year gardening (seedlings pictured above), I cleared a one-foot-wide space down one side of my house and planted four tomato plants, six bell pepper plants, and one strawberry plant. The second year, I squeezed in two more tomato plants (I'm still eating the homemade sauce I made from them last summer!), additional pepper plants and added several large pots to the adjacent sidewalk (on the side of my house) to plant carrots, green beans, and snap peas. This year, I hope to expand my garden even further. Since space is limited and my backyard is completely shaded by trees, I may have to dig up the front yard and replace some of my decorative landscaping (bushes, flowers, etc.) with edibles so I can yield more food. It might be a little unconventional, but it could also serve as an example or inspiration to other homeowners that they, too, can use what land they have to grown their own food.

If you are interested in growing your own food, don't let a lack of experience or space limit you. SparkPeople's Guide to Backyard Gardening covers all the basics, including tips for container gardening and solutions for people in urban settings. You will also receive great tips on our various gardening SparkTeams, which you can find at the link above.

So, do you grow any of your own food? If so, what do your garden plans look like this year? If not, do you hope to start gardening someday?

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Comments

  • 366
    Lots of kale,. swiss chard and tomatoes..... butternut squash growing out of control everywhere... one is trying to grow in my back door. - 9/14/2013   1:32:12 AM
  • NINJA_SMOO
    365
    I've mostly just grown herbs so far, but this year I'll have peppers, spinach and strawberries! Mmmm. I also bought a little lime tree and a little lemon tree recently. I'm so excited for fresh citrus! - 4/22/2013   10:37:45 AM
  • AMONBECK
    364
    Try out companion gardening, you'll be able to squeeze in more vegetables and mix things up so it's not entirely obvious you're growing vegetables with edible and non-edible plants like dandelions or moon flowers. Mix in some herbs and shoot for a more English-style garden and then things will be able to fill out quite nicely and you can "hide" more vegetables in your front garden that way. - 10/31/2012   3:56:23 AM
  • 363
    I ate green beans from my garden tonight! - 8/6/2012   7:50:28 PM
  • CHLOEMINOR
    362
    Yup! We're renting, but we have four sets of nested 5-gallon buckets (the cheapest way to get 'grow-box' watering efficiency) for tomatoes, spinach, chard; and some smaller pots for herbs and lavender. - 8/1/2012   6:22:04 PM
  • 361
    We always grow a large garden and have fruit trees, and berry bushes. It is one of the joys of my life. The past few years, keeping up a large garden has gotten more difficult for my mother and I. We started box gardening in a soil mix and we haven't been able to believe how much simpler and more satisfying it has been. There has been much less weeding, and what there has been has been easier. We have gotten much better yields too. We have had so much fun with our box gardens, and they look beautiful and taste marvelous. - 7/26/2012   2:00:51 AM
  • 360
    I have a huge organic garden: tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, pumpkins, green & yellow beans, kale, lettuce, spinach, asparagus and herbs. I also have apple & pear trees, and raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, elderberries. Organic food is hard to find where I live, and very expensive, so I feel blessed to live out in the country where I can grow my own. I also keep a few chickens. - 7/25/2012   9:34:35 AM
  • RUBYSHOE
    359
    My family has always gardened. I remember being little and eating strawberries while my grandma tended to the other veggies and fruit. I think it would be fun, maybe I'll get the motivation! - 7/25/2012   6:19:57 AM
  • 358
    I always put in a garden of my favorite things to grow at home during my April vacation, and then school is at its craziest during the same eight weeks that it gets rainy and warm and the crab grass goes from absent to overwhelming. I love gardening - if only I could get the time management thing right. - 7/2/2012   7:02:08 PM
  • 357
    In my garden this year:
    Sugar Snap peas, Radishes, Lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, carrots, peppers, cabbage, tomatoes, corn, green beans, horticulture beans, lima beans, summer squash, cucumbers, butternut squash, acorn squash - 7/1/2012   9:16:32 AM
  • 356
    Heck ya I garden. Next year my dog is gonna lose some yard so I can make it bigger! Anything to save money on fresh fruits & vegtables & no worries about pesticides or other things & can avoid the over price of organic foods. Which I dont understand why we have to pay more for food that has had nothing done to them. They dont have to pay for the chemicals to put on it so I dont know why they cost more. How can the poor afford to eat healthy when the cost of fresh foods is rediculous so yes I will grow my own every year & stock up for winter. - 6/19/2012   9:25:06 AM
  • 355
    I have been "edible gardening" in Phoenix for the past 4 years. Unlike most other parts of the country - we face some additional challenges - very poor alkaline soil, less than 8" of rain a yr and over 100 days of 100+ temps. I have yet to grow veggies less expensively than buying them due to the need for irrigation, shade structures and the never ending supply of compost that I need (which I make most of on site) - but I'm getting closer. I sell excess from my 1/20th acre garden at the farmer's market. If I can sell enough to cover my water bill I'm a happy camper! =) - 8/3/2011   9:36:49 PM
  • 354
    I live in a short season area, but the last couple of years have frozen enough veggies to last us most of the year. I have 4 raised beds (4x8) and a 2x2 ft. in the middle. Plus, a couple of years ago we took over a strip of our alley. learning to freeze everything has allowed us to grow a LOT of our own food- mostly squash and tomatoes and garlic that we use all year. Peas, carrots, lettuce, berries, and corn get eaten pretty much right away. Oh yes, and a lot of the cukes, some carrots, and green tomatoes get pickled! - 7/25/2011   3:39:11 PM
  • AGARDENER
    353
    I have plenty of space and have raised a large garden in the past, but for the last two years, I was unable to garden due to health problems. I really missed it. This year I have a small garden right by the walkway to the back door. I raised a few easy to grow vegetables and some flowers. May vegetable plants are beautiful, and it is amazing how much food you get from a small, easy to handle patch. Fresh herbs are very expensive in the grocery stores. They are very easy to grow and take very little space. - 7/21/2011   8:22:48 AM
  • 352
    having fresh tomatoes in the summer is a must. if i plant nothing else, i always do tomatoes. this year, i didn't dig up a plot. instead, i put tomato plants in 5 gallon buckets, and they're doing really well. i've picked tons of cherry tomatoes and even a few of the bigger variety already. - 6/30/2011   3:14:41 AM
  • 351
    For the past three years I have been doing a small garden in my side yard. I just love to go out and "pick" my supper and know how fresh and healthy it is. Had nice success last year growing butternut squash up on netting. It is one of my favorite veggies- - 6/29/2011   7:55:36 PM
  • SEWFREE2BE
    350
    Have been gardening for several years, tomatoes, potatoes,corn, squashes of all kinds, lettuces, spinach. peppers and eggplant, herbs. Now am "branching out" to fruits and berries. Strawberries do not do well in my area, but rhubarb and asparagus and apples are doing fine. Grew up eating/living of the garden cause my parents were that committed to it and is was cheaper. Now days I work out of the home so it is hard to find the time, and it is not always cheaper. - 6/29/2011   11:46:34 AM
  • PIXIESTIX6669
    349
    My father used to garden when we were kids...tomatoes, basil, zucchini, bell and hot peppers, cukes, radishes and sometimes corn...I have fond memories of those annual gardens, and all the fabulous veggies...we used to get sick of eating tomatoes every day lol (how I miss those veggies now), tho I'm very fortunate to live in an apartment with wide window sills...I plant in window boxes year round organic arugula, escarole, rosemary and basil...don't have enuff room for the tomotoes tho, but I'm glad I plant what I can...there's something really satisfying about knowing where your food came from, and that is was grown with love... - 6/28/2011   10:46:59 PM
  • 19PITSY53
    348
    I have a small garden in the corner of my yard. I attempt to put in as much vegetables as possible through rotation and one veggie done bearing so others have room to grow....The season needs to be longer in the Midwest.? - 6/28/2011   5:24:35 PM
  • 347
    We have had a veg garden for several years. Typically we have lots of tomatoes, green beans and summer squash. Last year we moved it all to raised beds to make weed control and watering easier. Oddly enough the beds are in the same space the in ground garden was but we have more space to plant. Just better use of the area, 20x32. Besides the typical we now have added peas, strawberries, peppers, artichokes, rubarb and salad greens. - 6/28/2011   4:47:41 PM
  • 346
    I have planted a very large garden for the last 17 years. I make salsa, jams, and freeze enough veggies and berries for the winter. Then I sell my overflow. I love this time of year, it is so easy for me to get a daily work out, and eat healthier. - 6/28/2011   8:33:30 AM
  • 345
    Do I garden? You bet! Walking barefoot through freshly tilled earth is the best! I have an herb garden, a vegetable (raised bed) garden and then the "Tall" garden... corn and Dr. Marten limas. More importantly, we preserve our vegetables so we can enjoy the fruits of our labor throughout the winter months! I try to be as organic as I possibly can. Everything gets recycled into the garden.... horse manure, grass clippings, household garbage and leaves. Even the feed bags would get used as weed cover with grass clippings on top between the tomato plants and limas. There are many many ways to recycle our waste. You just have to THINK !!! Oh.... and use soaker hoses to preserve water. - 6/28/2011   6:53:13 AM
  • 344
    I planted cabbage, Swiss Chard and Kale recently. Looking forward to eating some. - 3/27/2011   11:00:50 PM
  • KIKIKATS1
    343
    Last year I planted tomato plants, pepper plant, sugar peas, and squash. Most of them were a great success, the peppers kept on until well into fall. - 3/26/2011   10:45:40 AM
  • 342
    Two years ago I bought 4 tomato plants and the wind broke off one. Last year I got disgusted and did nothing and 1 volunteer tomato plant grew back where the one broke off. Go figure. This year I am going to figure out how to urban garden and if it is successful try to bring it inside for winter. - 3/12/2011   7:44:51 AM
  • 341
    I always have tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Last year I did spinach which was great. If I had more room I would do zucchini too. I would gladly spend more time outdoors gardening. It brings me so much satisfaction. - 3/11/2011   4:14:05 PM
  • 340
    I've gardened for years, but, alas, not the last few. Hope to get back to it though.

    If you don't want to abandon part of your ornamental yard to a veggie garden, have you seen the Rosalind Creasy Edible Landscaping f books? I love raised beds, but if you don't have the space, it's easy to tuck food plants in here & there. Lettuce & many greens will do well in the shade. Peas & beans can go verticle in very little space.

    Sun in out. I want to go PLANT something! - 3/11/2011   2:26:27 PM
  • 339
    I so desperately want a garden, and I have the yard for it, so this year I'm doing it! - 3/8/2011   9:22:09 AM
  • 338
    Yep. When I first got married I started out with a tomato pot then created a small flower garden and now have a full fledged garden in my backyard for the past few years. I am definitely not good at it and taking a class on gardening in a few weeks with the county I live in. Also, last year I got roped into helping with our school garden (the gardening class came about because of it) and expect to be back out there this year.

    This year I plan to plant sunflowers, a bunch of different tomatoes and flowers and herbs. Last year I made and canned my husband's grandmother spaghetti sauce recipe and can't wait to make more this year as well as try my hand at salsa. :) I do have two strawberry plants that I covered with mulch (a friend gave me that tip) and hope they survive the winter. :) I have tried my hand at other veggies but we have decided to buy a CSA from some friends of ours and supplement from our local farmers market. Bring on the spring! :) - 1/29/2011   3:43:41 PM
  • 337
    no, I don't grow any of my own food, but do try to buy from the Farmer's Market.
    I do garden but it is all flowers. I think it's a great idea, to grow your own food, if you can, and have the time, for it. - 7/24/2010   12:50:46 PM
  • 336
    This summer is my first time gardening. I ended up only doing tomatoes (mostly heirloom, yum!), some salad lettuce and basil. My lettuce only lasted about a month or so - it bolted as soon as it got hot. My basil keeps flowering and I can't seem it get it to calm down so I just "let it go." Now, I'm harvesting lots and lots of delicious tomatoes. All of this is in a 4x12 raised bed. This fall, I will add 1-2 more raised beds. Love gardening now!!! - 7/23/2010   2:12:23 PM
  • 335
    We love growing stuff!
    Our house came with two pretty mature jujube trees, a lemon tree(/bush), a peach tree, and an apple tree. The apple tree wasn't doing well, so that went out in place of a persimmon tree. We found a fig seedling in the grass, so we transplanted and nurtured that. We also have lots of mature aloe vera, but I don't know if that counts as food.

    Currently there are: two small blackberry seedlings, the above mentioned trees, long string beans, luffa, okra, dill, fennel, two new tomatoes, lavender, rosemary, thyme, a patch of mixed salad greens, purslane(unintentional but loving it!), and a bunch of random papaya and cantaloupe seedlings. The papaya and cantaloupe were a random experiment about planting the seeds found in the melons...not sure what we'll do with them.

    Hope to clear enough space for one or two squash plants next year, along with squeezing in more herbs: tarragon, calendula, peppermint, oregano. - 7/22/2010   12:35:03 AM
  • THENAMEISMOMMY
    334
    we love growing some of our own food...i can't wait until we really start enjoying the fruits of our labor. i just really need to preserve more of it. currently, we eat out of the garden for a good portion of the summer, but i would like to do better at extending that season with preservation. i also think it is a good lesson for our children in knowing where the food comes from and hopefully instills in them an appreciation for fresh, home grown food. - 6/23/2010   11:46:21 PM
  • 333
    Most definitely! I have been growing my own food for years. It tastes so much better fresh out of the garden and is so much better for our health!

    I have a 16'x4' raised bed and do some container gardening. Also, I grow corn in the corner of my lot. - 6/17/2010   10:06:54 PM
  • QUEENMOM54
    332
    We have eight raised beds and have already enjoyed snow peas. We usually plant over Memorial Day weekend (except for the peas that went in early May). We planted 32 Big Boy tomato plants; 16 grape tomato plants; 32 sweet pepper plants; 16 Yellow Hungarian peppers; seeded stuff includes the peas, green beans, lima beans. Because of the amount of rain we have been having, the garden is doing incredibly well and the advantage to raised beds is that we don't have to worry about the drainage. - 6/16/2010   7:17:27 AM
  • 331
    I have 2 25x25 plots and I still want more space. It is my 2nd year and I couldn't wait to get back into the dirt! The weeds have been savage in my area so my weekends are filled with lots of "activity" points. My goal is maybe to have one of those artistic veg gardens at some point but right now I'm learning what seedlings look like (didn't weed my carrots this year!!) and spacing. I split my area into a cool season/warm season which was a good approach. My blue corn and honeydew (new items this year) are just now coming up. I have my favs like kohlrabi and cauliflower besides all the diff salad/herb greens. If only there was more time...the job seems to be getting in the way!! Enjoy your yums this season! - 6/15/2010   11:48:46 PM
  • 330
    We always plant a garden in the spring. We have tomatoes, green beans, egg plant, crook neck squash, zucchini, bell peppers, jalapenos, cucumbers, turnip greens and we usually add something kind of unique or different to see if it grows and how ti tastes. We also have an herb garden and a strawberry patch. We have 3 fruit trees and a grapevine, too. We just love cooking with and eating our own food. - 6/15/2010   1:46:07 PM
  • SWEDENROCKS
    329
    We have a small backyard here in Sweden. I have everything in planters and pots. I have 2 strawberry plants, chives, parsley, lettuce, a pepper plant, several varieties of tomatoes....and tomatillos. You can't buy tomatillos here, so I am hoping I get enough to make some green enchilada sauce. We get plenty of rain here...but so far not much sunshine...and too much wind. So, wish me luck:) - 6/15/2010   9:40:57 AM
  • 328
    I do! Berries, leafy greens, many herbs, and more! I love fresh veggies from my own garden. - 6/14/2010   8:18:17 PM
  • SUMMER84
    327
    Yes I do when the season permits. I have 3 different kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers, zuchinni,arugala, and different herbs. Ohhh my favourite, I also have strawberries. - 6/14/2010   3:43:11 PM
  • 326
    I impoed on last year's attempt by choosing varieties that stand up to the FL heat and I have a great crop of toms. The sun sweet cherry toms really live up to the name - like popping a piece of candy in my mouth. I also made my own salsa. I'm still harvesating a lot of lettuce though I expect this will be my last crop until the weather cool again. already thinking of expanding next year. - 6/12/2010   7:11:40 AM
  • 325
    I love to Garden, It's relaxing and rewarding. - 6/11/2010   9:56:55 PM
  • 324
    Yes, I do grow a little -- tomatoes, lettuce, and several herbs. - 6/11/2010   2:00:41 PM
  • 323
    Yes! I am growing my own herbs, zucchini and tomatoes on my balcony. This will be my first year but I hope to do it every year and increase what I can grow. - 6/11/2010   9:35:16 AM
  • 322
    Love the garden. Lettuce, Chard, tomatoes, bell, hot and italian roasting peppers, peas, snap peas, green beans, lima beans, cucumbers, zucchini, basil, sage, dill, oregano, rosemary, figs, raspberries (I think that is all) - 6/2/2010   8:35:31 AM
  • 321
    I have missed having a (medium to immense over the years) garden. Now, since I live in an apartment only for the past few, I always make sure to get an upstairs unit, so I get the exposure, and I try to face the correct direction to catch the sun. I container plant now. And have just this spring (my first since I last relocated) planted cherry tomatoes and mint. I bought this outrageous "chocolate mint" plant. It makes my deck smell like heaven and it's fun to add to salads! I hope to do more as I learn how to grown where I moved to. - 5/22/2010   2:16:23 AM
  • 320
    I have lived in my house for 8 years and every year my garden gets a little bigger, I usually grow tomatoes, strawberries, squash, peppers, peas, green beans, carrots and potatoes. This year I plan on adding corn, lettuce, kale,spinach and broccoli, and I am going to try cucumbers again this year. I love gardening... - 5/19/2010   4:52:06 PM
  • 1960ANN
    319
    Not only do we garden but have planted more then a dozen different fruit trees. Living in Central Florida allows us to have the best of both worlds with the hot and the cold weather for the trees and an almost year round garden. - 5/17/2010   11:02:43 AM
  • 318
    We have grown a garden for the past three years. My husband grew up gardening, I really wasn't exposed to gardening much as a child, which is ironic because the only items are potatoes. We initially started in response to my low carb lifestyle, I like the idea of watching my own crop, the reduction of contamination. It also has become a hobby. This year our garden has expanded to land away from our home, I look forward to our expanded crop. We always share with our neighbors etc. I just think it is so ironic that I am the ONLY immediate family member that consume a variety of veggies LOL!! - 5/13/2010   10:05:09 AM
  • 317
    we live in a small townhouse with only a deck as a front yard. this year i planted a deck garden! 5 planters filled...i have (or soon will) tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, lettuce and many fresh herbs. i love it! - 5/13/2010   7:48:59 AM

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