Incorporating Homegrown Food into your Diet
There’s nothing I love more than spending time in my garden, and over the past 3 years I have developed a love of growing my own vegetables; it’s fun, satisfying, and gives you delicious produce which is grown without chemicals; therefore it’s a win-win! Whether you live in a sprawling countryside estate or a small city apartment, you can still enjoy growing your own produce; small spaces suit growing microgreens on your window sill, along with a couple of pots of herbs. If you have a small garden, you could grow radishes or spinach in a trough; or if you’ve got acres of space you can truly go wild with pumpkin patches, endless courgette varieties and more! Read on for some tips on incorporating homegrown food into your diet!
Where to begin
The thought of starting to grow your own food can feel really daunting as there are so many options of what you can grow, and you may have limits on the time and money you want to dedicate to starting this project. Read on for a list of low-maintenance starter crops that can get you going!
1 – Herbs
Woody herbs such as rosemary, thyme or sage are perfect for beginners as they are super low-maintenance. They don’t need watering often, and just like to be in the sun; so grab a few herbs from your local garden centre and pot them up.
2 – Microgreens
Microgreens are a fun thing to grow from seed. Simply buy some seeds, pop them in a seed tray with some potting compost, and wait for them to germinate. Be sure to keep them moist, and ensure the seedlings get enough light. Once they’re ready, trim your micro greens and add them to a frittata or use them to garnish a bowl of pasta – I also love to add them onto soups or veg dishes in cooler months!
3 – Radishes
You don’t need a kitchen garden to grow radishes; they are a great crop to grow in a trough. In the summer months, you can direct sow a couple of rows of seeds into a trough, put them in a sunny position and keep them watered. Within a few weeks you’ll have delicious and crunchy radishes to add to your salads.
4 – Tomatoes
Tomatoes are pretty easy to grow, but they do require a small amount of regular maintenance; they need regular feeding and watering, particularly when they’re in-fruit. If you have the time to check on your tomato plants every couple of days, they’ll reward you with the most delicious little fruits that you can roast and put on a bruschetta, or whizz up into a delicious pasta sauce.
5 – Chillis
Chillis are another easy and satisfying crop to try. There are endless varieties of chillis, so have a think about how spicy you like your food before you choose a variety! Simply leave your chilli plant in a sunny spot, keep it watered, and chillis will appear in no time. I like to buy mine as small plants, as I’ve struggled with success when growing from seed!
Benefits of growing your own food
1 – Access to tasty, organic food
Homegrown food honestly always tastes best. Another bonus of growing your own is that you have more control over the conditions; you can avoid using chemical pesticides, keeping things natural and organic.
2 – Save money
Organic food can be expensive! A great way to save money is to buy some organic seeds and grow as much veg yourself as possible. It can be a great idea to grow things which are expensive to buy from the supermarket, or hard to find such as artichokes or unusual varieties of more common veg.
3 – Get outside in nature
There are so many benefits to getting outside amongst nature. It can help to put you in a good mood, reduce stress, and help you to get active; trust me – gardening can be a proper workout! I also can not even begin to explain how satisfying it is when you’re peckish to just wonder into the garden and discover what delicious treats are ready to be harvested and turned into a tasty meal!
Tips for incorporating your produce into your diet
1 – Add herbs to your salads
A way to pack loads of flavour into a salad is by adding in a big handful of fresh herbs. It doesn’t really matter which herb (although I’d avoid woody herbs like rosemary in a salad) – just grab a handful and either tear it or roughly chop it and add it to your salad! Equally with omelettes and fritatta; the more herbs the better!
2 – Add a chilli or two to your stir fries
The great thing with chillis is they tend to ripen quite gradually on the plant, meaning you can just snip off one or two chillis at a time, when needed. Add a chilli or two to a stir fry or curry, and if you have an abundance you could make a chilli oil!
3 – Make pesto
If you have an abundance of any crop and you’re concerned about how you’ll manage to eat it all, start thinking about ways that you can preserve that crop. For example, you could make a big batch of pesto if you have an excess of basil, sage or lemon balm. If you have an abundance of tomatoes and chillis, why not make a delicious chutney to pair with cheese?!