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You don't Need a Farm to Grow Your Own Food

You don't Need a Farm to Grow Your Own Food

Mary Smith |

Many of you reading this are already growing your own organic food.  Congratulations!!!  You are part of a growing community around the world of people taking an active role in your food supply.

I'll be honest here, being actively involved in the current "food fight" in the US can be tiring.  I often hear complaints about organic farmers and organic companies selling out to big corporations.  "It's all about money" they say.  I've said it myself.  More and more small, family-run businesses are being bought by large corporations.
Store-bought organic food can be expensive.  That's the truth.


Usually when people complain about the high cost of organic food, my immediate response is "Grow your own."  This week, instead of a positive response I was attacked.  I just let it roll off.  Since I admin several pages on facebook, I interact with people of all walks of life around the world.  Being honest again here, If you have time to complain and create drama on facebook then you have time to plant a seed to grow your own food.

And just to clarify, this article is not about growing 100% of your daily needs in your backyard.  This is about getting actively involved in your food supply. It can be as simple as 1 tomato plant or 1 lettuce variety.  PLEASE consider the positive impact YOU can have but just planting  1 food variety.

This is not intended to attack anyone who does not grow their own food.  My intention is to de-bunk the myth that growing food requires a huge property and dedicating your life to farming.  Growing organic food from seed is not "easy" but it is possible.  Some of our customers at Mary's Heirloom Seeds have started off with just a few varieties and then expand their gardens from there.  Sometimes, starting small is the best option. 

If you are concerned about toxic pesticides used on conventional crops and want to save money on organic food, growing your own food (even just a few items) is THE BEST way to go!

EASY CROPS to grow include

Beans (50-90 days)

Beets (50-60 days)

Radish (25-35 days)

Basil (30-60 days)

Dill (30-60 days)

Cilantro (20-60 days)

Swiss Chard (60 days)

Lettuce (20-60 days)

Spinach (50-60 days)

Homegrown Beets grown in our 4X8 garden beds

This is for those of you who might be on the fence about growing your own food and especially those who say it cannot be done.

"I live in an apartment"

Great!  There are quite a few varieties that grow well in containers.  We even offer planting guides specifically for container growing.  Start with something simple like Basil, Dill, Swiss Card, Lettuce, Spinach, Radish, Beets, Broccoli and even edible flowers such as Nasturtium and Borage.

You can plant Basil and lettuce in small containers (1 gallon).  You don't even need to buy expensive containers.  We have re-used kitty litter buckets in the past and used recycled yogurt containers for seed starting.



"I don't have time"

Refer to the information provided above.  Once planted, Container gardens require very little time.  Water every few days, check for pests regularly and harvest when ready.



"I live in the city"

Great!  Container gardening is just one of many options.  I have seen people grow hundreds of pounds of food on their tiny city property.  Vertical gardening (planting up) is a great way to save space and still grow food.



"I don't have a farm"

No problem!  Not everyone needs a farm. 1 bean plant requires a 5 gallon bucket to grow and produce.  That's less than 1 square foot of space. 1 Basil plant needs a 1/2 gallon to 1 gallon container to grow.

Do you see where I'm going with this?

A 4 foot by 4 foot garden bed can produce over 20 (even 50) pounds of food in 1 season if planted and maintained properly.

We built these 4 X 8 beds!

From homeguides " On average, a staked tomato plant will produce an estimated 8 pounds per plant, while plants trained via trellis or cage produce an average estimate of 12 to 20 pounds per plant."

One zucchini plant will yield, on average, three to nine pounds, according to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.

"I can't grow all of the everything"
Not everyone has time or space to grow every single veggie or fruit variety they and their family eat.  Barter and trade!

Last year, we grew more zucchini and Tomatoes than we could eat so we traded family members for their backyard eggs.  
We don't normally let them grow this large.  These were "hiding." Some grew over 16 inches long!

Bartering and trading excess produce for other food items or even services is a win! 

I'm sure I can come up with a few more but I think you get the point.  Whether you start small with a few containers or you plant out your entire yard, we can help.

Even seasoned gardeners have garden "failures" on occasion.  When we moved to our new homestead last year, I planted a few things too early and then had a hard frost.  We quite a few seedlings.  I was so frustrated but that didn't keep me from the garden.  I went right back out and re-planted a few things so we would have a successful harvest.

The saying "Nothing worth having comes easy" is true in the garden! 

Helpful Links

Every day I answer emails, phone calls and fb messages from people with garden-related and seed related questions.  If you have questions, I am happy to help.



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Great encouragement and problem solving! My husband and I have lived in a basement suite, duplex, and now an apartment, and we’ve always found ways to have a garden. We’ve had garden beds and container gardens. Most of all though, we’ve been lucky to have friends who are willing to share space in their yards and garden with us.


You are absolutely correct. Even we, who live in a sunlight-challenged city apartment can grow sprouts and microgreens. I once tried miniature bush beans, and we did get to eat three tiny green beans, but the plants did not get enough light to flourish. Similarly, I’ve tried growing a number of herbs, all without success. I don’t have space for a grow-lite system, so we stick with the sprouts and microgreens. I’m thinking of trying a few pans of bib lettuce this year, since we’re not getting much rain and may have a little more sun.

One question for you. I buy organic potting soil for my indoor plants, but my local garden store clerk told me that they are sterilized too, so don’t have all the nutrients we might want. I have no access to living soil. Do you know of a brand that would be good for an indoor food gardener?

Kathryn Grace,

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