Tomato patch Amy GrantNothing can compare with the freshness and incredible flavor of home grown fruits, herbs and vegetables. My family can hardly wait to harvest the first tomatoes from the garden to use in homemade tomato basil soup and a BLT sandwich!

Home gardens minimize your exposure to dangerous pesticides, chemicals and tainted produce. You have complete control over what goes in your food.

Not only will the food make you healthier, the exercise you get while working in a garden is such a benefit. Focus on all the calories you’ll burn while tilling, weeding, and harvesting your bounty. Finally, for me, digging in the dirt inspires peace, relaxation and a closeness with the earth.

Growing your own will save you money in several ways. Fewer trips to the store will cut impulse buying. Seeds and plants are cheaper than grocery store produce, and extras can be preserved and dried for the future.

Planning and growing your own garden is a great family activity. Children of all ages enjoy selecting, planting, watering and picking vegetables.  It conjures a feeling of pride and teaches responsibility and self-sufficiency. You’ll also have a bounty to share with friends, neighbors or the local food bank.

Those of you who live in apartments or densely populated areas and don’t have your own plot of land may be able to rent a garden plot – check your local newspaper for information, or grow a few plants in pots on a balcony.

Check out my favorite six best selling gardening books – most are available in hardcover, paperback or ebook:

vegetable gardeners bibleThe Vegetable Gardener’s Bible is an invaluable resource for home food gardeners. It has friendly, accessible language; full-color photography; comprehensive vegetable specific information in the A-to-Z section; ahead-of-its-time commitment to organic methods; and much more.

Square Foot Gardening: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More In Less Space is the most practical, foolproof way to grow a home garden. In this new volume, the author discusses one of the most popular gardening trends today: vertical gardening. An expanded section on pest control helps you protect your produce.

The secret to growing bountiful harvests throughout the season is knowing exactly when to start seeds indoors, transplant them into the ground, pinch off the blossoms, check, for bugs and pick for peak flavor. The Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook: Make the Most of Your Growing Season eliminates the guesswork with weekly to-do lists that break gardening down into easily manageable tasks for the best vegetable-growing experiences possible.

Low Cost Gardening-coverFor the gardener on a budget, check out this book with money saving ideas for a great garden in a short space of time. Low Cost Gardening: A Recycled Garden covers taking cuttings, collecting seeds, dividing root balls, and making your own mulch from kitchen scraps, garden waste and newspaper. Many items can be recycled to make pots for plants and garden edges.  Natural products are recommended to get rid of weeds, pests and diseases.

FOR KIDS: Plant a pumpkinseed with a child, and cultivate wonder. Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening with Children includes 12 easy-to-implement ideas for theme gardens that parents and kids can grow together. Each garden includes a plan, the planting recipe — seeds, seedlings, and growing instructions. There’s the Pizza Patch, a Flowery Maze to get lost in, a Moon Garden of night-blooming flowers, plus a list of the top 20 plants guaranteed to make gardeners out of kids.

Preserving Summers Bounty-coverAnd finally, a must-have for all gardeners: Preserving Summer’s Bounty: A Quick and Easy Guide to Freezing, Canning, and Preserving, and Drying What You Grow includes instructions for harvesting, freezing, canning, preserving, pickling, and drying your herbs and vegetables.  This book also includes canning recipes and root cellar use.

Gardening is not for everyone. If the work and planning is too daunting and you have a little extra cash, a weekly visit to your local farmer’s market will get you the same flavors as home-grown food.

Happy growing!

Photo: Amy Grant in her tomato patch

Leave a Reply