As much fun as I have been having updating the master bathroom, this week I had to take some time off. I had a couple prior commitments that took up a lot of my time, a book fair for my son’s school and I had to finalize the new packaging designs for Grandma Nona’s Fudge Shop (yum!). And then when I had a day of no rain, I had to hurry and get my vegetable garden planted so I could enjoy the longest growing season possible.
Growing up, we always planted a large vegetable garden. I hated it! As a kid that garden meant lots of hard work to get it going and Saturdays spent weeding all summer. But now that I am all grown up, I look forward to planting day every spring! It’s funny how that happens.
Lucky for me (or maybe not), my kids enjoy helping me in the garden. I am sure this too will pass when they are old enough to actually help and not accidentally pull the plants out instead of the weeds.
Planting a vegetable garden is so much more than just a bounty of vegetables in the fall to me, but you better believe I will be sharing all kinds of Instagram pictures of all the goodness we get. The buckets full of vegetables are more than awesome but here are 10 more reasons you need to plant a vegetable garden this year!
1- Garden fresh vegetables taste so much better than store bought vegetables.
If you have never eaten a tomato right off the vine that is slightly warm from the summer sun, you are seriously missing out. Vegetables in the store are picked before they have a chance to ripen, then they are shipped to the grocery store where they “ripen” in a box. The reason I put ripen in quotes is because they really do not ripen, they just look like it, because if they are allowed to ripen on the plant, they are filled with bursts of flavor that just cannot be compared to anything you get at the store. If you don’t have the space for a garden, a farmer’s market will give you vegetables with the same fresh picked taste and you’ll be hooked!
2- Garden vegetables stay fresh longer.
This one is something that took me a while to realize. And I didn’t realize it until after the summer was over and I bought some vegetables from the store. They started going soft within a couple days when I was used to having a couple weeks of freshness from the vegetables out of my garden. Because the vegetables at the store were picked a week or two before they ever made it to the shelves, I was loosing the shelf life that I got when I picked them from my own backyard.
3- There is an endless array of varieties to choose from.
Even if you never get online to see the possibilities, you can get so many different varieties of vegetables at your local nursery. In the grocery store you have maybe 5 different kinds of tomatoes to pick from, when you go to buy plants there are dozens of varieties and if you look at seeds, there are hundreds to choose from. One of our favorite thing to do is to try new things because we can! If the kids want purple carrots, we plant purple carrots. If I find a new variety of zucchini, we give it a shot. Growing our own vegetables means we are not limited to what the grocery store thinks we want.
4- It doesn’t really cost more money for organic vegetables.
I will admit, I do not buy all organic fruits and vegetables. We a lot of fruits and vegetables and I don’t have the grocery budget for it. But when it comes to gardening, I try to keep it organic because it doesn’t really cost any more money. I use organic fertilizers and soil conditioners, and when I compare the cost of these to the non-organic ones, they are comparable. The difference in price for seeds is so small when you think about the amount of food you get from each little packet that it’s totally worth it. But even if you don’t buy organic seeds and plants, if you don’t spray them down with chemicals you will be much better off than buying non-organic vegetables in the stores.
5- You will be excited to eat your veggies.
It’s funny how much my kids love eating vegetables from our garden that I couldn’t get them to eat otherwise. If they see it grow, they are more excited to eat it later. My daughter is a huge fan of kale. She will just pick leaves from the garden in the summer when they are outside playing and munch on them like a carrot. My kids will request dinners with zucchini noodles. All this because they are so excited to eat the food they helped grow (big mommy win here). And even if you don’t have kids, you will be more excited to fill your plate with the bounty from your garden. If you’ve ever set the goal to eat more vegetables, planting a garden is the answer!
6- You will learn a very useful new hobby.
I think it is always good to learn something that can be handy in a crisis. I hope to never have to fully rely on my ability to grow my own food, but if I had to, I would have the knowledge to do it. And next up, maybe a few chickens and goats to learn how to care for them and become a little more self-sufficient!
7- You will always have food to eat, even when you don’t want to go grocery shopping.
There are days when I just do not want to leave the house. Maybe because the kids are acting up and I refuse to fight that battle in public, or because I really don’t want to have to put on real pants, or cause I am just sick of adulting that day. When I have food in my garden to harvest, I can avoid grocery shopping because I know I have something I can make a decent dinner out of. One of my favorite summer meals is roasted vegetable tacos. I cut up a bunch of delicious vegetables from my garden, roast them in the oven with spices and a can of black beans, and either put it on rice or in tortillas (depending on what I have on hand). The easiest dinner, that is so delicious and healthy, and doesn’t require a trip to the store. Bonus for lazy summer mom 🙂
8- You can preserve food to eat later in the year.
This is something I learned from my parents in my youth. We would plant the huge garden, then spend all of August and September preserving the harvest. We would freeze the corn, can the tomatoes, make loads and loads of salsa, can green beans, etc., etc., etc. The possibilities are endless. Last year my parents got a ton of pumpkins in their garden and I roasted them and smashed them and froze over a dozen bags of pumpkin puree so I had enough pumpkin to eat all the pumpkin goodies I wanted in the fall (and believe me I love my pumpkin goodies). Every year I can enough tomatoes for us to use the rest of the year so I never have to buy them. Another great skill to have and a great way to let your garden feed you even when the growing season is over.
9- It teaches hard work.
Remember how I hated gardening when I was younger, because it was hard work! But I know that the hard work I was forced to do as a kid/young adult made me a better worker as an adult. When I was working as a manager, I would immediately hire anyone that grew up on a farm. I knew from experience that they were the hardest working people I had ever met and they took pride in their work. That is just something that needs to be learned and sadly, a lot of kids these days are not getting the chance to learn what happens when you put in some real, sweat dripping from your face, sore back for days, blisters on your hands, kind of work. I hope that my city kids get a little bit of that lesson by helping me in the garden every year.
10- A sense of pride.
I get so excited every year when those tiny little seeds start sprouting. I swear it’s a miracle that a full sized plant can come out of such a tiny little speck. And then that plant can produce enough food to feed my family, friends and neighbors! I get so excited to watch it grow that I check on my garden every day, and then I take all kinds of pictures (and will be posting them cause I am so proud of it!). It’s just too cool that I could make so much out of so little. And I think taking pride in something is a great thing!
So I thought it would also be fun to show you my garden this year. This is the picture I took right after I got everything planted and watered. The things that are already growing were purchased as starts (I have only tried to start my own plants once, and it was a terrible fail, so I am still purchasing all my plants that need to be started earlier that my season allows).
I live in a zone 6 and our last frost is usually before Mother’s Day (I typically like to plant Mother’s Day weekend- weather permitting). Some items can be planted earlier, but I am not so good at getting my garden spot ready in time. I also don’t have a very big garden. I sectioned off a 6-7 foot deep area along my back fence that is 35 feet long. It is big enough to feed our family of 4 (2 toddlers) very well all summer, while sharing plenty and preserving a lot! In my next house, I am requesting more garden space and I’d love space for some fruit trees, but until then…
Do you grow a vegetable garden? What are your favorite things to grow? I’d love to hear your ideas because I am always ready to try something new 🙂
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