Top 10 good reasons to grow vegetables in your garden
Ten good reasons to grow summer vegetables
It’s that time of year in New Zealand that I start to plan what vegetables I am going to grow in my garden in the coming spring and summer.
Today, I was snug indoors, sitting at my laptop while it poured with rain outside. It’s almost the end of winter here, although that may be wishful thinking. Mid-August is the point where we feel ‘it must be spring soon, surely winter has done it’s thing already?’ The reality is that it usually isn’t warm enough to plant vegetable seedlings outside, until around Labour Day in late October.
I like to grow some vegetables from seeds. This is usually cheaper than buying seedlings, but it can be hit and miss. I find that some seeds grow well, and others don’t even germinate. Through trial and error over the years, I have worked out which seeds grow well, and which plants are better to buy as seedlings.
Vegetables I grow from seeds planted in spring are:
- Courgettes / zucchini
Vegetables I usually buy as seedlings are:
- Capsicums / bell peppers (summer)
- Cabbage (these last three are vegetables I grow in autumn/winter)
In August each year, I work out which seeds I have saved from last year, and which seeds I want to buy. I have already circled many products in the Kings Seeds catalogue, and today I put in my order on their website at Kings Seeds (this is not an affiliate link!).
As per my usual tradition, when I entered all the catalogue numbers of the seeds I had circled, it came to over $100. So I went through my order and deleted some of the eight types of tomato seeds, six types of courgette seeds and 6 types of cucumber seeds. I also deleted five different packets of flower seeds. This brought it down to a more reasonable $65. Luckily, I had spent enough to get three free packets, so I could choose some of those flower seeds I had deleted. An early birthday present to myself!
When I get the seeds, which should be in the next week or two, I will start planting them in my potting seed. It’s not really a greenhouse, more of a shed with a big window at the front. The window was saved from our house renovations – over the years, we have replaced all our old windows with new double glazed windows, and the old windows have ended up in various shed projects around our place.
I will write a post about raising seeds in a few weeks, and will add a link here.
10 reasons to grow vegetables
These are my top ten reasons to grow vegetables at home:
- It saves money. It is cheaper to grow some vegetables at home than buying in the shops or markets. I find that I can usually grow lots of tomatoes, courgettes / zuchinnis, and capsicums. Even though they are cheap in the shops when they are in season at home too, the cost of the seeds or seedlings is much less than the cost of buying the equivalent amount of those veges.
- Freshness and quality. There is nothing like that freshly picked taste – a tomato picked straight from the plant, that is still warm from the sun is just delicious! There is no delay between picking and transporting to you (as there is with shop bought veges), so you know that the vegetables are at their best when you pick them and eat them daily.
- Reduced environmental effects. There is much less impact from packaging waste and transporting costs when you grow your own vegetables. Plus, you can choose to grow organically, with no herbicides or pesticides.
- Excess produce to last for months. When I grow vegetables at home, I usually have a glut or excess of them. The extra veges can be made into preserves like chutney or tomato sauce, or I can bottle or jar the excess. I like to bake zucchini flans or zucchini chocolate cakes, to go into the freezer for later. Vegetables, either whole or chopped, freeze well, especially chilli peppers, tomatoes, courgettes and capsicum, and can then be used throughout the year. I usually end up with enough vegetables in the freezer to last me until the next harvest!
- Selling or giving away excess vegetables. Another benefit of growing your own vegetables is that you can make a bit of money by selling the excess. We have a honesty box stall at the end of the driveway, and we put out excess fruit and vegetables for a few dollars a bag. People are usually honest, and leave the money for the produce they take. This is a great system to get the kids to help with, as it teaches them some lessons about work and earning money. Its also rewarding to give away excess produce, so other people can enjoy it too.
- Being outdoors is a huge benefit of gardening. There are so many positives to being outside in the garden:
- getting fresh air and sunlight or rain,
- connecting with the natural world instead of sitting at a screen,
- getting your hands dirty,
- getting some enjoyable movement,
- the satisfaction that comes from knowing you have done some hard work that day.
- The enjoyment of the process. Growing vegetables can be a very satisfying process, one where you are somewhat in control of things. Of course, there are always things outside of your control that could affect your vegetables, like bugs, wild weather, rabbits or other animals getting into your vege patch! In general though, seeing the process of nature in action is amazing, from planting the small seed or seedling, through to harvesting huge and tasty vegetables.
- Creating a beautiful environment. I love creating a lush and productive vegetable garden, as it looks beautiful as well as being useful. I enjoy growing vegetables mixed in with flowering plants. This is partly to encourage bees and other insects, but also because it makes my garden look gorgeous! My vegetable garden style is messy but a colourful and varied mix of plants.
- Gardening is great for children. Growing vegetables is a lovely way to get the kids outside and learning about nature, and to encourage them to try different foods. I realised that my children preferred some vegetables raw, when they started eating broccoli straight from the plant, but wouldn’t eat it cooked for dinner. I’m happy for them to eat it raw, it’s marvelous that they are eating it!
- Growing vegetables can be a way to carry on a family or cultural tradition. I’ve been thinking my way through what I mean here, and I feel that gardening can be a way to carry on a tradition, or to honour and remember your parents, grandparents or other ancestors. When I am out in the garden, my mind will often drift of to memories of my parents out there in the garden when I was a child, or to trips I have made to historical or cultural gardens. I think about the many people who have come before us who grew their own food, in the days before everything was so readily available. I think about the skills and knowledge they have passed on to us, and the huge benefits we have from all that accumulated knowledge. Carrying on that tradition of being able to provide at least some of our food ourselves is a way to honour the people who came before us.
I’d love to hear about your garden plans for the spring and summer – please leave a comment on here or on my Facebook page Eco Pippa