Grow Your Own Food to Enjoy Flavor and Security

For MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers, "grow your own food" is almost a mantra. They grow more than $1 billion worth of fresh produce every year!
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
December 2009/January 2010
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The vitality of a well-tended plot is one of many satisfactions you'll reap when you grow your own food.

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We just about fell out of our chairs when we looked at the figures edible-landscaping expert Rosalind Creasy reported for the value of homegrown food in Grow $700 of Food in 100 Square Feet! About $7 per square foot is the value of the food she grew in her plot. Doesn’t sound that impressive at first glance, does it? But let’s examine that figure a bit.

Creasy used a small test plot of just 100 square feet. We know from our surveys that the average garden of MOTHER EARTH NEWS' readers is more than three times that size. We also know that more than 80 percent of you garden. Plus, more and more of you are using season-extending techniques to produce food for six to eight months instead of just three or four.

Added all together, we estimate that MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers grow more than $1 billion worth of fresh food every year. Yowzah!

Most of you already know the benefits of homegrown organic food beyond grocery bill savings — great flavors, better nutrition, no pesticides, and lots of “I grew that!” pride. And these days, there’s something else many of us are getting from our food gardens. Even if you only grow a few crops in a small space, isn’t there something supremely reassuring that you know how to grow your own food? In realizing that, if supermarket food supplies were threatened, you could dig up the yard and grow your own potatoes?

Speaking of digging up the yard, there appears to be quite a lot of that going on right now. Whether it’s a desire for better tasting food or concerns about the cost or safety of supermarket fare, more and more folks are deciding to put in a food garden. One sign of this is that seed companies are reporting booming sales.

We’re doing everything we can to produce information to help beginning gardeners succeed, while at the same time bringing you cutting-edge reports on topics such as biochar (Make Biochar — this Ancient Technique Will Improve Your Soil) and finding safe compost (Contaminated Compost: Coming Soon to a Store Near You). With so many new gardeners shopping for supplies, we’re seeing some pretty silly — and sometimes seriously overpriced — garden products. Our goal is to help you find the least expensive options (Build Better Soil with Free Organic Fertilizer!) and highlight tools, such as the NRG hand trowel, that will help you garden better (Best Garden Tools: Rogue Hoe, NRG Trowel, and Zeon Electric Riding Mower).

Back to that billion dollar harvest: We would love to hear how much food you harvested this year and what crops you are enjoying now from your greenhouse or last summer’s garden. Tips from veterans for beginners are welcome, too. So check out Grow $700 of Food in 100 Square Feet!, then share your stories by posting a comment to that article.

Post a comment below.


David Collier
11/17/2009 7:16:44 PM
For a number of years, I have gone to various stores and purchased Tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and other vegetables that were the hybrid sort. This summer, I went to our local seed store and purchased heirloom tomato varieties like German Johnson and Brandywine. What a difference, that choice made! No need to use chemicals, just compost and water and newspaper as a weed blocker, and wow, what a bumper crop! Just before the first frost, I cut the tops of a few of my German Johnson's, put them in dixie cups with some compost and seed starter soil packets and they are growing in the house! Thanks Mother Earth News for all the great tips. Composting and so many more topics. This next summer. I plan to try raised beds and see just how much organic goodies can be coaxed from small spaces.

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