Although growing your own food may seem like a daunting task now, before grocery stores came about, having a garden was the only way to ensure your next meal.
With the overwhelming use of pesticides and herbicides in conventional agriculture, many people are choosing to go back to their roots and put their gardening gloves on.
And since the growing season in most of North America is only so long, modern gardens have shifted from the backyard to rows of terra cotta along the windowsill.
With the right tools and the right plant varieties, you can grow enough food to have a little home-grown something at each meal.
Basics Of Plant Care
For long-term health, your plants should be grown in a high-nutrient potting soil and be potted in containers with good drainage and air circulation to prevent root rot.
Any fruits or vegetables you grow will need to be hand-pollinated if grown indoors. This is easily done by lightly brushing the inside of each flower on your plant with a soft paintbrush to collect and distribute pollen. It’s a good idea to clean and dry your brush before repeating the process on another plant.
It’s also important to fertilize your plant once or twice a year after it’s bloomed or been harvested to keep your produce as nutrient-dense as possible.
When growing food outdoors, make sure your plants are suitable for the climate in which you live by consulting this map.
For more information, talk to your local gardening center or botanical association.
These plants are quick to grow and will feed you and your family with fresh sweets all summer long.
1. Meyer Lemon Tree
Surprisingly, this hardy tree can be grown outside up to USDA Zone 8 and grow an abundance of bright fruits. The plant also has a pleasant fragrance that fills up your whole home when in bloom.
It’s important to prune the plant regularly since it can easily grow beyond 6 feet tall. However, lemon trees should be brought inside during the winter or simply grown indoors in colder climate regions.
You should purchase a young tree from your local garden shop rather than grow it straight from the seeds since it takes about 2-3 years for a tree to mature and bear fruit. Grow it in large, deep pots and water and fertilize regularly in the spring and summer, reducing your care in the fall and winter.
Blueberries grow best in acidic soil, so it’s important to perform a pH test before planting your shrub. Feed your shrub with an acidic organic fertilizer once or twice in the summer.
It’s also important to give the plants plenty of sunlight and water to ensure a steady stream of sweet fruit.
Strawberries grow well in tall containers so that the vines can grow along the side of the containers and fall over the edge. The taller the container, the more space you have to grow your plant and the more fruit you will have access to.
Leave your container outside in the summer to encourage visits for pollinators and bring inside as the temperature drops in the colder months. Make sure to harvest it regularly to encourage fruit production.
4. Columnar Apple Tree
These trees should be grown in 5-10 gallon containers and require less care than other apple trees. They don’t need to be pruned regularly and grow lo-hanging branches, making the apples easy to access.
All they need is regular sun, water, and fertilization to bear fruit. Just make sure the trees are appropriate for your climate before growing them outside.
Mulberries are high antioxidant berries that can be grown in a large 1ft tall container. If you don’t have a lot of space, opt for a dwarf variety of the plant, which is more suitable for the indoors.
However, if you growth it indoors, make sure to place your container on top of an easy to clean surface, as berries tend to stain any surface they may fall upon. If you’re a bird enthusiasts, place them outside to attract your feathered neighbors.
6. Passion Fruit
This lovely smelling-fruit is typically only found in tropical regions, but it can also be grown in other regions if kept away from the shade and the cold. All it requires is a trellis to support the weight of its vines, a warm space, plenty of sun and lots of water.
Normally, the plant is a perennial vine, but it can be grown as an annual when potted. To keep your plant alive for years to come, cut back its roots and store in the garage during the fall, winter and early spring
Cherry tomatoes actually grow really well in hanging baskets on a covered porch while other varieties prefer being on the ground with a trellis to support their vines. Just make sure that your plants get plenty of sun and water and keep your harvest plentiful by fertilizing regularly with kelp meal, blood meal or fish emulsion.
Most vegetable require lots of light, plenty of water and nutrient-rich soil. If you can, use a half soil-half compost mix for best results. These plants will grow well throughout the summer, but will need to be replanted and regrown every spring.
As a rule of thumb, vegetables tend to grow better when planted directly into the earth, but they can also thrive in elevated planters.
8. Bell Peppers
Not to be mistaken with decorative non-edible peppers, bell pepper can be grown inside year-round. They can be grown either straight from the seed or from juvenile plants purchased at your local gardening centre.
Simply place small varieties in 2-gallon terra cotta pots with ample drainage and keep them in a sunny spot. Most importantly, make sure not to let their soil dry out.
These plants love to be in a high-compost soil with plenty of water. Cucumbers are known to climb, so it’s important to give them a structure on which to grow high and wide. It’s also important to harvest its vegetables frequently to avoid snapping the delicate vines.
Some varieties have sharp thorns all over the plant, so use gardening gloves during maintenance and harvest.
Potatoes are actually very easy to grow and harvest, all you need is a large bucket or a small piece of land, some hay, a bit of compost and a few fence posts. Although they can be grown indoors, it’s best to leave these veggies outside.
Just make sure to keep them well-watered and far away from harmful pests.
Carrots tend to thrive when planted in large rectangular containers that are at least 1 ft deep. For best results, mix a little sand into your soil and sow two seeds at a time in 1/2” of soil 3-4 inches apart. As the veggies grow, cover any visible carrot tops to avoid them from getting green and harvest 2-3 months after planting.
Radishes are super easy to grow and provide fresh food in a very short amount of time show results in a short amount of time. Plant seeds 2-3 inches apart in 6” deep pots and water. Within 2-3 days, they will have sprouted. If you notice too many sprouts for the size of you container, thin our your crop by removing a few from the soil.
With a bit of care and lots of water, they’ll be ready to eat in as little as a month!
Sow seeds 2-3 inches apart in shallow holes and water thoroughly. With luck, they should sprout within 3 days of being planted! The roots and leaves can be harvest in as little as 30-35 days and require similar care to carrots.
Spinach should be kept in a shadier space if grown in an excessively hot and humid climate. Plant them in individual 8” deep pots to avoid competition and disease. They also do better in well-draining soil mixed with sand.
To harvest, pull up the entire plant or gradually pinch off the bottom leaves.
Grow leafy vegetable straight from the seed or use the base of your head of lettuce and plant it directly into the soil. Use small pots to grow individual plants or a long, box for a row of fresh veggies.
Seeds should be sown 6 inches apart while heads do best with a full foot of space in between. Harvest the bottom leaves regularly on close-set plants like kale or harvest the whole head on cabbage-shaped greens.
Herbs are easy to grow and can be easily used in everyday cooking. Plant them in individual terra cotta pots or in long planters.
This herb prefers being grown in partial shade and grown year-long. In the summer time, take you plant outside and bring it in as the temperature begins to fall.
Grow it in a simple pot with ample drainage and thin it out as you need to encourage growth and overall health.
Basil loves being in a warm, sunny spot. However, extreme heat and humidity can cause the plant to get limp and droopy. To avoid this, water it regularly and mist the plant to keep the leaves moist and firm.
To prevent it from flowering and dying, snip off leaves from the top of your plants at every harvest.
This herb should be grown in a nice summer spot with plenty of circulation. If grown outside, bring it in on cool nights to keep it safe from extreme temperature changes.
These little plants are easy to grow in dirt-filled mason jars or other decorative containers, just make sure to provide a generous layer of drainage under the dirt to prevent its roots from rotting.
If grown in a garden, this plant will die in the fall and come back every spring.
Growing mint indoors will make your whole home smell fresh and delightful. All it needs is lots of sun, well-fertilized soil and plenty of water.
If grown outside, keep in a large container away from your garden as the plant will quickly spread and invade the space.