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How to Grow Your Own Food without Waste

When you are able to grow your own food, you have so much more control over what you feed yourself and your family. You decide what to grow. You decide how to treat the plants.

Of course, I am talking about starting your own garden if you have the space. We are lucky to have a big enough backyard to have a few garden beds. But I also know that not everyone has that space. If that’s the case, you may be able to have a small container garden.

Either way, however you plant your garden, there are a few ways to grow your own food with the least amount of waste.

Grow Your Own Food

Preparing the Garden

I’ve already written about starting an herb garden, so make sure to check that out. Find the best place for your garden, and prepare the area.

Sun

Make sure your location gets enough sun, but not too much. Each plant needs a different amount of sun, so research what’s best for the ones you want to grow.

Soil

Check the soil and make sure it’s suitable for planting. A lot of the ground just underneath our sod here is clay. We had to do raised beds and purchase fill soil to make it better for growing.

Weeds

Before you plant, pull out any weeds. We try not to use any chemicals around our garden, but if you plan to use a weed killer, do it early. Let it have time to do it’s job and wash out of the planter beds before laying seeds.

Compost

Some of the best and most nutrient-rich soil you can use is compost. If you are planning to grow your own food, it helps to also have a compost bin. Fill it with any scraps that you can use otherwise and let it become perfect soil for your garden and plants.

Planting the Garden

Choosing the Seeds

Decide what plants you want to grow and check the requirements. Make sure it’s something that you can grow in your area. Next, figure out where you are getting the seeds from. Most home improvement stores sell seeds, or you can order online. Or, for an even lower waste option, try scrap gardening (see below).

Planting the Seeds

Follow the instructions on your seed packets for planting. It will tell you how far apart, how deep, and how much water and sun they need. If you are using seeds from scraps, do a quick search online for the information.

Scrap Gardening

One method of gardening that has gotten a lot of notice lately is scrap gardening. I’m sure this is how it’s been done for thousands of years, and is what naturally happens in nature. But, by giving it a name and recognition, the idea is known to more people and a great way to prevent waste.

There are a few ways to deal with kitchen scraps, and gardening is one of them. Each fruit, vegetable, and herb has their own way that works best, so you’ll need to look up information on what you want to grow.

For example, for lettuce, you can cut the last inch or so of the root end off, and place it in water. After a week or two of changing the water, it will start to grow a new head of lettuce.

Harvesting Your Own Food

Harvest When Ready

And I don’t mean when you are ready. Harvest when the plant is ready. We made this mistake the first time we tried to grow our own food. Instead of harvesting tomatoes when they were ready, we would go in search of one when we needed it for a recipe. This meant that we had a lot of produce get too large and split, or eaten by birds, before we could use it.

Harvest in Small Amounts

When possible, harvest in small amounts. If it’s something that just continuously grows, like mint leaves and other herbs, it’s usually best to take small amounts. If you pull everything it can shock the plants and they won’t produce.

Saving Your Own Food

Can, Freeze, or Pickle Your Own Food

The method you choose will depend on what you need to preserve, how you plan to use it in the future, and what you have the ability to do. I do a lot of freezing because I can thaw the food right before I need it.

For most produce, you’ll want to blanch the produce before freezing. Even then, when you go to cook with it, the produce will lose any crispness. But, it’s still great for things like stews and soups when it will be cooked until soft anyways.

Justin likes to pickle cucumbers, but that’s the only thing we have actually pickled so far. And canning isn’t something I have tried yet, but I want to learn soon.

Related: How to Make Dill Pickles at Home

Give Away

There have been times that we harvest so much more than we need at that time. And some produce, such as lettuce, doesn’t freeze well. When that happens, I take a picture and text it to my neighbors to see if anyone wants it. I have never had any left when I do this, everyone loves fresh produce, especially when it’s free!

Your Turn

  • Do you have a backyard garden or container garden?
  • Have you tried to grow your own food before?
  • If you could grow any food in your yard, what would it be?
  • If you don’t have a garden, what’s stopping you?

10 thoughts on “How to Grow Your Own Food without Waste”

  1. Growing up, my great grandmother had a giant garden. My mom has had one in the past as well, but was having trouble harvesting everything in time, so she stopped planting one. In the future, I’d like to try planting a garden and growing some food as well! We would love to grow zucchini, tomatoes, and maybe some carrots!

  2. I plant my own herbs and some veggies every season. I’ll never go back to buying mint tea from the store again. I grow my own 🙂

  3. I wish I could garden more but I live in the city and there isn’t any place to really plant except my balcony. Growing your own food is fun and resourceful. These are good tips, I wish I could use them though,/

  4. What a perfect guide! I am a beginner when it comes to gardening but I am trying to educate myself and grow a few things this year.

  5. I would never have thought to do that with a head of lettuce and scrap gardening. I think it would be interesting using that. My daughter I think would enjoy it. I hadn’t really heard of this kind of scrap gardening before.

  6. Oooo great tips!!!! Honestly I have always loved the idea of growing my own food, but it definitely sounds like a ton of work lol…. maybe one day I will actually grow something!

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