3 Ways to Grow Your Own Ingredients

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In practice, whether advising on ways to combat heart disease, manage weight or reduce your risk for cancer, a dietitian will prescribe leafy greens and a ripe fruit like a pharmacist prescribes medication. The known health benefits of vegetation are numerous with more information being revealed daily. Grocery stores are the No. 1 spot Americans purchase their food — perhaps because lack of time, knowledge of materials needed and limited space serve as barriers to planting a garden at home. Yet with a little research and willingness to get his or her hands dirty, even novice gardeners can sprout their very own produce.

A lush piece of land with the green thumb to cultivate it is a reality for some, but for city-dwellers more accustomed to a metropolitan lifestyle this is simply unattainable. But fresh produce can grow in even the bleakest urban area. Provided are ideas for whatever the yard-size (or lack thereof) may be.

“Postage-Stamp” Backyard

If the greenery surrounding your house can be trimmed with hedge clippers just as easily as a lawn mower, you fall into this category. Space may be limited, but it’s perfect for a raised-bed garden. The size of the bed can vary — if you are new to gardening, starting small works in your favor. By focusing on a select few vegetables, the task will seem less overwhelming.

With this garden type, you also have control over the dirt quality. You can create a soil-and-compost blend that will act as a nourishing environment for your seedlings. Soil erosion is kept in check with built-in drainage, and plants can be spaced closely together, so yields go up and water-use efficiency is maximized.

Container Gardening

To achieve the perfect mix of beauty and practicality, consider this option. Flower pots are excellent homes for your annuals, but vegetation can also thrive in them. But vegetables do require space, especially vining crops like tomatoes and cucumbers. A container with a 10-inch wide diameter and 12-inch depth is acceptable for most vegetation, but a 16- to 20-inch diameter pot is preferable. An added benefit of this method is that containing the soil gives you more control over the temperature. If a winter-freeze moves in, the pot can easily be covered or placed indoors temporarily.

Kitchen Sink Window

If four walls enclose the only property you inhabit, then a sunlit kitchen sink window is likely your best option. Interestingly enough, elementary school teachers have had this problem solved for decades with the foam egg carton! Just as they were in the science classes of your youth, these accessible containers continue to be a lovely home for a fresh herb garden. And multiple herbs can grow in a single carton, providing the opportunity to try out your horticulture skills, as well as your culinary skills when the herbs are ready for use.

Providing nutritious food on the table is reason enough to try your hand at planting a garden, but it is certainly not the only one. Other benefits voiced by gardeners include a reduction in the amount of money spent on groceries, as well as the actual activity being a way to alleviate stress. Regardless of your experience level or environment, give it a try! Your taste buds, pocket book and overall well-being will thank you.


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Bethany Oxender
Bethany Oxender, MS, RDN, is a clinical dietitian based in Ann Arbor, MI, specializing in weight management. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram and read her blog, Bethany Grey.