Produce can’t get more local than from your backyard
Though many UVU students live in apartments, there is still an option to grow vegetables and herbs from home. Consider buying from local nurseries or seed-swapping to make your new green adventure gastro- and economically friendly. Though we have officially left spring behind us, it is not too late to start planting. If you’re anxious for an earlier harvest, skip the seeds and buy seedlings.
If you only have a porch, deck, or entryway, you can still grow quality herbs and vegetables for yourself. Most herbs can be grown successfully from a pot; try rosemary, sage, parsley, cilantro and basil.
Consider the rooting needs of vegetables before you choose a pot for them – root vegetables in particular need plenty of space to grow. If you hope to get large healthy vegetables, buy or find large pots. Also take note of how much sun your plants will need. Most vegetables require at least 6 hours of direct sun per day. Beans, bush-variety peas, lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and radishes grow excellently in a well-tended pot. To grow climbing peas, be sure to give the plants a trellis to grow on.
Synthetic store-bought soils do best in pots; often they are worth the extra cost. Also consider fertilizing plants to encourage growth. Finally, make sure your storage containers have good drainage.
If you have no room at all for pots or hanging baskets, invest a mason jar or two in your kitchen to sprouting. Alfalfa, mung beans and other common sprouts can be found at health-food stores or emergency supply stores, but don’t bother with the fancy seed-sprouting devices. A mason jar, some cheesecloth and a rubber band will do just fine. You can also grow wheatgrass directly from a plate – tutorials for each technique abound online.
Upside-down tomato plant kits can be found at many nurseries or superstores, but they can easily be made at home. Visit www.CheapVegetableGardener.com and search for “make your own upside down planter” for a few great tutorials on how to make vegetable containers from soda or milk bottles. Tomatoes or peppers work best in an upside down container, but feel free to get creative and experiment with what you can grow root-side up.
Establishing a garden bed
If you’re lucky enough to have some land to plant in, be sure to prioritize the quality of the soil. If you take good care of your soil, the soil will take good care of your vegetables. Till the earth well, digging and aerating at least 12” of soil. Mix in a soil amendment such as compost. You can make your own or buy some at local nurseries, specialized businesses like Eco Scraps or occasionally your city’s green dump.
Time for Harvest
When it comes time for harvest, eat what you can while it’s fresh, freeze or can what you think you’ll eat in the next year and donate the rest to your local homeless shelter – most will happily accept donations of organic local vegetables.
The Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork is currently building their organic garden on the temple grounds. The .75 acre cultivated plot of land is ready for help from people in the local community. Interested gardeners can volunteer and learn more by calling 801-789-3559.