Poll: Do You Grow Any of Your Own Food?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  367 comments   :  28,326 Views

Like most of you, I love spring—and not just because it allows me to enjoy the outdoors. I am also excited because it marks the start of gardening season! With all the environmental and economic troubles we're facing, gardening is on the rise. Growing your own food on your own land is local food at its best. And it's inexpensive to boot! While healthy food does cost more at the store, growing your own fruits and vegetables can save you tons of money over the course of one season. All you need are some seeds, some dirt and a little water and you can grow your own food!

I am just beginning to plan my new garden and I can't wait to get my hands in the dirt. I've been daydreaming about my garden plans and all the fresh, delicious bounty my little plot will yield in the coming months.

This has led me to wonder: Do you grow any of your own food?

This will be the third year that I grown some of my own food. I had to teach myself how to garden since no one in my family showed me the ropes when I was a kid, and I admit that it seemed so overwhelming when I first started out. My house sits on one tiny lot (just one-tenth of an acre), and a large portion of my land is shaded by five trees. To say my gardening space is limited would be an understatement. But I have not let it stop me. Gardening connects us with the earth, the seasons and the weather. It gets us active and outdoors so we can soak up some vitamin D and burn calories. But most importantly to me, it minimizes our impact on the environment and allows us to save money while still eating fresh, delicious and healthy food. Even if all you have is a porch, windowsill or small balcony, you can still garden!

My first year gardening (seedlings pictured above), I cleared a one-foot-wide space down one side of my house and planted four tomato plants, six bell pepper plants, and one strawberry plant. The second year, I squeezed in two more tomato plants (I'm still eating the homemade sauce I made from them last summer!), additional pepper plants and added several large pots to the adjacent sidewalk (on the side of my house) to plant carrots, green beans, and snap peas. This year, I hope to expand my garden even further. Since space is limited and my backyard is completely shaded by trees, I may have to dig up the front yard and replace some of my decorative landscaping (bushes, flowers, etc.) with edibles so I can yield more food. It might be a little unconventional, but it could also serve as an example or inspiration to other homeowners that they, too, can use what land they have to grown their own food.

If you are interested in growing your own food, don't let a lack of experience or space limit you. SparkPeople's Guide to Backyard Gardening covers all the basics, including tips for container gardening and solutions for people in urban settings. You will also receive great tips on our various gardening SparkTeams, which you can find at the link above.

So, do you grow any of your own food? If so, what do your garden plans look like this year? If not, do you hope to start gardening someday?

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  • 317
    we live in a small townhouse with only a deck as a front yard. this year i planted a deck garden! 5 planters filled...i have (or soon will) tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries, lettuce and many fresh herbs. i love it! - 5/13/2010   7:48:59 AM
  • 316
    We plant tomato, green pepper, cucumber and zuccini plants. We have had limited success but we have only done it for the last 2 years. This year we have some better ideas to keep things growing well. - 5/11/2010   3:29:38 PM
  • 315
    There are several houses in my neighborhood in Oakland, CA, including mine, that have some drought tolerant "landscaping" (no evil water-and-chemical-sucking grass, unless it's bushy native grass that is not a lawn), along with a veggie garden -- why waste water on things you don't eat? - 5/10/2010   8:35:20 PM
  • 314
    I love to dig in the dirt :-)
    This year we have 3 types of tomatoes, green and hot peppers, green beans, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers and in a couple of shadey window boxes on the porch I've got some lettuce and spinach growing - and of course the herbs are out there, too. - 5/6/2010   6:32:43 PM
  • 313
    I usually grow tomatoes and strawberries. I don't have much luck with other things. We did plant some fruit trees and I am hopeful but 3 were in blossom and we just had snow and possibly freezing weather. - 4/30/2010   9:28:27 PM
  • 312
    We have NO room for an actual garden, so we have a 'family garden' at my inlaws. They provide the land and most of the seed/ plants, my boys till the garden at the beginning of the season, we all take turns weeding, watering, and harvesting, then we freeze and can what can't be readily eaten.

    here at the house (where we have no room), I do grow tomatoes in a large outdoor planter and we have a mint patch, so we can always have fresh mint tea :) - 4/30/2010   10:41:24 AM
    this year is my first attempt of having a garden. i planted 3 tomatos, 4 peppers, 1 squash, 1 zuccinne and some cucumbers. if they bear fruit i might plant more thing next year. - 4/29/2010   10:11:15 AM
  • 310
    I try to go things but it doesn't always end well. :) - 4/28/2010   11:08:56 AM
    I grow tomatoes, bell pepper, strawberries, rhurbarb, lettus, squash, and watermelon. My first year for watermelon so I'm not sure how that will work out. - 4/26/2010   7:21:18 PM
  • 308
    I have a strawberry patch and this is my second year of it... the first year it didnt' produce any strawberries, but this year they have grown and multiplied and there are starts of little strawberries growing!!! I'm so excited and can't wait for future years to come with my strawberry patch! so healthy! - 4/26/2010   3:09:41 PM
    This is my first year gardening. I am doing a container garden because the soil around my house is not great and so far it's working wonderfully. I should be able to eat my first batch of strawberries in the next 1-2 weeks! In addition to the strawberries, I am growing green peppers, 3 varieties of tomatoes, carrots, blackberries, and onions all out of containers and it seems to be an easy way to make sure they all have proper water (and I can rotate them for max sun exposure)! - 4/26/2010   12:07:49 PM
  • 306
    I have onions and tomato plants out right now...the onions got snowed on but they are ok. I hope to grow some cucumbers they are so much better fresh from the garden - 4/26/2010   1:43:05 AM
  • 305
    I am hoping to try "straw bale" gardening this summer...bought an inexpensive ebook on the web...it sounds so easy...just need to find a friend with a truck to help me go get the bales! I grew ONE tomato plant last summer (I do grow herbs) in a pot set in my flower garden and it motivated me to do more! Nothing like homegrown tomatoes! Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm and proving that anyone with a little space can grow their own food! - 4/25/2010   4:12:49 PM
  • MAYA113
    My husband and I have been growing food for the past year. This year we've doubled our quanity. We live in the Southeast and we try to grow food that is native or compatible to area. We also grow all organic. List of foods: grapefruit, limes, tomatos 5 varaities, collards, strawberries, herbs, cucumbers, sorrell, turnips, onions, and blackberries (though these are native and we are just encouraging them), and of course all types of peppers. It's great to have fresh produce to eat!! It also cuts down on our food bill. - 4/25/2010   10:47:07 AM
  • 303
    This will be my second year for gardening. I don't have much of a green thumb but I still try. Some times I have good luck and some times I don't. We have a lot of tomatoes this year and we are trying the topsy turves for some. Cucumbers for salads and to pickle. Some hot peppers and strawberries. We live in SC and the clay here is hard to dig cultivate. But we are still learning and growing. - 4/24/2010   4:29:36 PM
  • B2B2BA
    I've been growing vegetables for 6 years now. I almost doubled my garden space this year by digging up a 15' by 8' plot next to our house that was mostly a dead spot between two rain barrels. So far, I have garlic, spinach, beets, kale, onions, shallots and parsnips growing in the new garden and it looks like an ideal spot--much better than just growing grass that just needs to be mowed.

    Growing your own vegetables has gotten easier with the emergence of small raised beds and containers made just for the purpose of growning veggies in smaller spaces. If you have access to good sunlight, I think anyone could grow a little bit of their own food. - 4/24/2010   1:30:10 PM
  • 301
    I garden, with mixed results, but I keep trying. Gardening on the cool and clammy Oregon Coast is a challenge, but I did get some tomatoes last year. And the potatoes were To Die For. If you're gardening in the Pacific Northwest, check out my Webfoot Gardeners Spark Team. - 4/24/2010   12:23:58 PM
  • 300
    I've always done an herb garden but this year is my first foray into other stuff like butterleaf lettuce, zucchini, jalapenos, banana peppers and strawberries. I may get some green beans too. These are all in containers so I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hope something sprouts! :-) - 4/24/2010   9:42:27 AM
  • 299
    I used to do the big gsarden in the back yard but with my health getting worse, I found it ws too much for me. So, this year I bought several large containers and a half barrel and planted in those. I have 2 tomato plants (one cherry and one beefsteak tomato plant), a zuccini plant, several acorn squash (my favorite), a cucumber plant, green onions, strawberries, a watermelon and several herbs. Each day I try to spend 30-45 minutes puttering around my container garden. - 4/24/2010   12:58:55 AM
  • 298
    Growing up in very rural Australia we always had a very patch and bottled fruit and veges,
    Since living in my own house I have always grown some vegetables and fruit.
    Now as a senior we have only 25 pumpkins from 3 plants and more on the bush so my freinds are sharing.
    For winter I have Bokchoy, brocolli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, silver beat, lettuce. snow peas and onions
    I love working out there and watching the "babies grow" - 4/23/2010   8:50:48 PM
  • 297
    We started our garden last year, with tomatoes, basil, green onion and peppers.
    This year we are growing even more! Its great to have fresh produce to cook with and to eat.
    I love that everything we eat is organic! - 4/23/2010   6:30:08 PM
    I was raised with my dad always having a garden. A huge garden. The more land he had the more things he grew. Even when it was just him and mom he grew enough to feed a small army. So I always wanted a garden after I left home. I even grow herbs. Nothing like bittiing into a fresh tomato sandwich. If . you grow cucumbers and have a leaky faucet outside grow them right under it, they take a lot of water. My dad also went by a farmers almanc. Something about that moon being full or not that helps or henders veggies growing good. Good Luck all you green thumbs. - 4/23/2010   5:13:29 PM
    Growing your own food is like cutting your own fire wood - you get twice the benefit! - 4/23/2010   12:19:45 PM
    We have an association which controls all the land, so I can only plant on my deck. I've done tomatoes - Better Boys and cherry. This year I also want to try bell peppers. Wish me luck because I'm a novice! - 4/22/2010   9:26:25 PM
  • 293
    We grow. A LOT. I can, freeze, pickle, preserve anything I can. So far we have 60 tomato plants, peppers, green beans, peas, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, eggplant, okra... we grow a little bit of everything. And I work hard to keep up with everything. But it is always good eating. - 4/22/2010   3:51:48 PM
    I love to garden and canned tomatoes last year for the first time. I live in Phx, Az and we have a different gardening season than most. This year I have tomatoes, peppers, cantelope, cucumbers, lavender, basil, thyme, rosemary, beans, lots of giant sunflowers (for shade, actually), blackberries and strawberries. My tomatoes have already started to grow (the Early Girls) and the rest of the 10 plants will soon follow. Canning is really fun and very economical however it's important to observe the safety rules. There are several great sites on line if you want to try it for yourself - it was easy if very messy - we looked like the tomato people when done but there is nothing like having fresh canned tomatoes for your chili!
    We also keep 3 very spoiled chickens and get an average of 12-13 eggs a week. There is nothing like fresh eggs to go with the veggies :). - 4/22/2010   1:23:00 PM
  • 291
    I'm an avid raised-bed gardener. This year I am growing: Potatoes, Garlic, Squash, Zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin, cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, beans, lettuce, carrots, chard, spinach, peaches, plums, and pomegranates. - 4/22/2010   12:42:39 AM
  • 290
    I grow container tomatoes and this year have a couple of cucumbers and think I am going to put some pepper plants in with my flowers and see what else I can work into the beds. Trying to cut down some on the produce bills! - 4/21/2010   6:31:08 PM
  • 289
    Luckily, when we retired, my husband took up gardening and I took up canning. We both love it when I say this or that is from our garden. We feel better knowing that there is little to no salt added. - 4/21/2010   2:15:20 PM
  • 288
    Oh yes! I have a big container garden inside a huge 'cage' to protect my garden from my pet peacock, the deer, the woodchuck, the dog, the squirrels and the rabbits. LOL
    So far I've planted tomatoes, cucumbers, red & yellow bell peppers, yellow squash, basil, foot long green beans & snow peas.
    My rosemary, sage & parsley plants survived the cold winter months.
    The cilantro has reseeded itself, too.
    The hard part is deciding what else to plant. - 4/21/2010   1:50:33 PM
  • 287
    I have a basil plant but that's it! :( I live in a loft in downtown San Diego and I don't even have a balcony! Plus we keep the windows open most of the year and if I try putting plants on the (slanted) windowsill I'm always afraid my cats will knock them off and hurt someone! - 4/21/2010   12:14:39 PM
  • 286
    We are also in our third year of veggie & fruit growing.
    We have taken over our sunny front lawn with 4 large planter boxes my partner made plus we grow loads of herbs: basil, sage, oregano, rosemary in amongst the roses and other decorative plants! Luckily our landlord approves!
    Growing our own food is so great in so many ways: connection to seasons, loving my family, our son knows where his dinner comes from, organic & delicious, spare food for family & neighbours... I can go on! - 4/21/2010   1:19:41 AM
    I'm also starting a garden this year and I'm pretty excited. I have carrots, cucumbers, squash , peppers, tomatoes, oragano, cilantro and sage. Things are already growing. Oh, and I started a flower garden too! We'll see what happens. I'm not known to have the green thumb in the family. - 4/20/2010   10:42:05 PM
  • 284
    I am starting my first garden this year. My fiance and me purchased a new house in October and I was already starting to plan my veggie garden. I have broccoli, cabbage, three kinds of summer squash, cucumbers, and melons started already. I also have peas, carrots, beans, and lettuce that will be going in the ground soon. I have been gardening with my parents since I was little and rely upon them for all their advice and help as I start gardening on my own. I can't wait until fresh, tasty veggies start coming in and my money can stay in my wallet. - 4/20/2010   9:46:50 PM
  • 283
    My husband has always had a garden since we've been married, having been reared on a farm in Eastern Oklahoma - mustard greens, okra, (tried corn, not to successful) tomatoes, black-eyed peas, onions, and within the last two years we have had cantalope, cucumbers, carrots and lots of herbs - thyme, rosemary, lavender, cilantro, bay, sage,chives and tarragon. I help mostly in the summer, when school is out, and it is very peaceful first thing in the morning to go out and water and weed. - 4/20/2010   8:05:14 PM
  • 282
    Yes, I have had a small vegetable garden nearly every year for the past 30+ years -- I only missed a few of those years. Now that I have "retired" I have even bigger plans to have more and to try different things each year along with my staples -- my staples are snap peas, green beans and tomatoes. Last year the weather was such that the tomatoes were a flop -- but oh those beans and peas and my experiment for the year - butternut squash -- yum!! This year I am all set now with broccolli plants, Romaine lettuce plants, my peas, beans and tomatoes and some pepper and my experiment for this year - soy beans. Looking forward to the yield no matter how small. - 4/20/2010   1:03:30 PM
  • 281
    I love gardening. But my health is such that physical labor is out. However I thought I could purchase some containers and garden in those since that would not require digging up dirt with a shovel. When I priced the container I thought might work it was $12. That was too much for my budget for just one container. So I just happened past a stack of pretty good sized plastic sand buckets in the childrens' isle, in the dollar store, for only $2.00 a piece so I thought I would do well to spend $12 and get six. My only question is, is it ok to plant in plastic? I already had a few sacks of top soil and wondered if that is ok to plan in also. Thank you for anyones input. - 4/20/2010   12:22:45 PM
  • 280
    I'm sorry to say I have very little time for a garden, but I have planted several tomato and pepper plants in my natural area. I can depend on the rest of my fresh veggies from my mom. - 4/20/2010   11:59:27 AM
  • 279
    I do. Carrots, radishes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, onions and tomatoes. - 4/20/2010   9:00:08 AM
    Not at the present moment. Would love to after I get some other projects done. - 4/20/2010   1:07:01 AM
  • 277
    We are fortunate that our house sits on more than 1 acre. We hope in the future to be able to buy a large piece of land and build a home (at least 25 acres), but for now, we have what we have. And we have alot. We have grapes, apricots, peaches, plums, almonds, pecans, walnuts, and a huge garden full of every kind of vegetable or fruit. We grow lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, squashe, brussel sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, peppers, strawberries, herbs, and whatever else we can make room for. It is truly a blessing. Our food budget is much lower over the summer months, and I can as much as possible. - 4/20/2010   12:49:26 AM
  • 276
    Gardening is my passion. I have always had a love affair with seeds. After all these years, it still amazes me what one little seed can produce. Even though I live in a suburban area, I grow a tremendous amount of food. The area between our house and the next door neighbor's is called our "secret garden". The HOA rules forbid the fence on the front, which can't be seen from the street. The back fence has an arbor with a climbing rose. This is usually a wasted space that just has air conditioners. My neighbors have no interest in gardening, but gladly donate their space. Needless to say, I share. Aren't neighbors great?

    Rainbow Swiss chard is a very pretty plant that can easily be grown in your flower beds. It has many culinary uses and once started will continue to grow and flourish until the bitter cold. - 4/19/2010   9:36:53 PM
  • SHEMI1982
    Yes I do my Dad use to so I took over his job the most I grow is tomatoes and I try and keep the seeds from one year to the next and diffently have to this year with the German tomatoes that I got from my cousin who got from her mother who has done it for years and they are great. Other than that onions, carrots, some beans and garden lettuce and of course the rhuhbarb in the backyard - 4/19/2010   7:42:23 PM
    We grow a very large garden every year and can, freeze or dry all that we don't eat. It is a great money saver and the food taste soooo much better! - 4/19/2010   5:47:49 PM
  • 273
    We do have a garden. My husband does most if not all of it. Our goal is to get to the point that we are growing everything that we need for a nice big salad plus more. - 4/19/2010   5:44:03 PM
    I love growing my own food. I was fortunate enogh to have my grandparents teach me as a youngster. - 4/19/2010   5:28:07 PM
  • 271
    Yes, I have a garden! I love it!! Not only does it give me pleasure, but feeds me plenty of veggies. I can use the additional cardio with weeding, but it is difficult for me to view it as work. I enjoy it so much! I recommend a garden to anyone with the space. I will also say that it is pretty time consuming to keep it weeded. I have tomatoes, peppers, green beans, onions, cantalope, cucumers, cauliflower, cabbage, and 2 kinds of squash. I can't wait to eat!!!! - 4/19/2010   5:04:08 PM
  • 270
    For many years, I used to grow all the veggies for my family but now I am in a condo and relegated to containers on my patio only. So I grew tomatoes and basil and zuchini last year. The zuchini really never took off, which surprised me, but I had fresh cherry tomatoes on New Year's Day! Coming to NC from Chicago that's pretty close to a miracle. This year I have 4 pots of herbs on my windowsill and a flat of tomato seedlings (an 18 egg ct carton)on my dining room table. There are 4 larger tomato plants and 6 basil plants on the patio, awaiting planting and a large collection of volunteers already a foot high in the tomato container! I'm hoping to get a few peapod and bean plants to grow in the pots during this cool weather and I have two windowsill containers to fill with lettuce seed (mesculin). I may be overly ambitious considering the limited space, but I used to be an organic gardener who did companion planting and crop rotation, etc. What a change! - 4/19/2010   2:25:18 PM
  • 269
    I wish I could have a garden, but my backyard is too small. My best friend's family has a garden at their house, so I get home grown vegetables and fruits during the summer, but I do plant herbs. - 4/19/2010   2:21:53 PM
  • 268
    For several years I grew tomato plants in large pots on the back patio. Last spring I finally made a relatively large raised garden in our backyard. It was a lot of work and definitely contributed to my weight loss so it was well worth it. Last year we had an unusually wet spring and summer so a lot of the fruits and veggies didn’t do as well as I would like. Fortunately I was given a great piece of advice, especially for the tomato plants…place a few decent sized rocks about 1.5 feet below ground so that water will not completely pack the soil around the roots and cause root rot.

    This year, in the raised garden, I have already started growing peas, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, romaine lettuce, summer squash, carrots, tomatoes, onions and strawberries. I will plant 3 different types of tomato plants that mature at different rates so I have a variety of tomatoes all summer and most of the fall. A little later in the spring I will plant cantaloupe and possible watermelon if there is any room left. In the planters that hang off the back patio I am growing lots of basil (makes the best homemade pesto), parsley, oregano, chives, cilantro, rosemary, thyme and mint. These are wonderful for cooking and I just walk out on the patio and cut them fresh when I need them.
    - 4/19/2010   11:01:49 AM

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