Wouldn’t we all like to spread out paycheck a bit further, and get a bit more for our money, especially when it comes to feeding the all the hungry mouths in the family. Well, if you’ve got a bit of garden space, even something tiny, why not grow your own vegetables and fruit to add to your family’s diet? It helps to ensure that your diet is interesting, high in fibre, and varied, but it also encourages the kids to get involved, and it’s a great tool for teaching about nutrition and diets. Here’s a few hints and tips for how to create the perfect garden to feed you and your family.
Focus on high-calorie food
Many people choose salad leaves, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes, to take up the majority of the space in their garden, and while it’s fine to have a few of these, it’s not the more effective use of space for a good crop and versatile use. Opting for more high-calorie foods such as potatoes, corn, beans, and squash give you more of a staple option, creating a backbone of a meal and filling the family’s tummies almost for free. They also require very little work, compared to the more delicate and less versatile plants, which is perfect for a busy family without much time for garden work.
Throw some treats in there
It shouldn’t just be all high-calorie food; there should be room for treats, and of course some fresh herbs too. Depending on the space you have available, a few small strawberry plants can offer delicious and healthy fruit throughout the summer, and they’re great fun to harvest. For longer term plans, and if you have a bit more space, why not go for an apple, plum, or pear tree? Harvesting the fruit for pies and tarts in autumn is a great job for the kids, and the delicious treats make it totally worthwhile.
Protect it from pests
The main problem with growing a garden to feed the family is the constant battle with pests. Firstly, it’s crucial that you keep an eye on each plant regularly to ensure they’re not susceptible to any disease - a disease on one plant could be devastating for your crop. Keeping birds and bugs off your crops is also important. A greenhouse, such as those from SW Greenhouses, will keep many plants safe, but crops which prefer the outside need more protection. Using salt or slug pellets will keep the slimy ones away, but netting is the best way to keep birds at bay.
Encourage everyone to get involved
Finally, remember that this should be a family project, not just something which mum and dad have to slog away at tirelessly. Encouraging the kids to get involved in planting, watering, and maintaining their vegetable garden teaches them an element of responsibility, but it’s also a great science lesson too. And they’ll love cooking and to eat everything at the end of harvest, making it a great tactic for encouraging a picky eater to try some more healthy foods.