When I was a kid, all my relatives grew their own vegetables - my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles. But I was never interested in any kind of gardening (and I didn’t particularly like to eat vegetables anyway). Things have changed a lot since then!
I’ve been growing my own vegetables since I freaked out over bird flu in 2006! At first it was only in containers in a rental property, but I started my first real vegetable garden in 2008. I have started three different vegetable gardens (due to moving house) and now grow a good proportion of our vegetables throughout the year in four raised garden beds.
There are lots of great reasons to grow your own vegetables. Here are my top five:
1) Save Money on Groceries
Vegetables can be expensive (especially lettuce at the moment!). If you grow your own, you always have plenty. Sometimes it's not exactly what you would have chosen to buy! But figuring out how to cook different vegetables in interesting ways is all part of the fun of growing your own vegetables. And you can always swap or share your excess with other people.
Growing vegetables can also be expensive if you don’t know what you’re doing. To save money in your vegetable garden you have to get creative. By doing things like findling different sources of organic matter to make compost to fertilise your garden. You can save and swap seeds instead of buying seeds or seedlings. Most importantly, you should prioritise plants that grow well in your area to maximise production. It helps to talk to your neighbours and other locals to find out which vegetables are going to do well and produce a lot for you.
2) Food Security
imagine not having to worry about whether the supermarket shelves were empty during a disaster situation. Imagine knowing that you could walk out to your backyard or balcony and pick your own food. You may not have everything that you would like to eat, but at least you know you wouldn't be hungry. During recent food shortages caused by COVID and then flooding in our area, I knew that I always had something to eat out in the vegetable garden.
I always feel reassured to know that I'm not relying on the supermarket or someone else to provide all of my food needs, as there's always something in my vegetable garden that I can eat
3) Home Grown Vegetables Are Healthier
Home grown vegetables don't have to use any chemical sprays and the vegetables. Commercial vegetable growers use all sorts of chemicals, including pesticides, fungicides and herbicides and all of these make their way into the soil and into the vegetables and fruit that they sell in supermarkets. Unless you're buying organic produce, you're likely exposed to a lot of chemicals and growing your own vegetables means that you can control what chemicals are used to grow your food.
Home grown vegetables are fresher. They don’t have to travel over a great distance to get to you, so they have more nutrients. On average in Australia a typical food basket travels distance of over 21,000km before reaching your supermarket! Some fruit can be stored for up to 12 months. Think how much fresher the food is when its coming straight out of your own vegetable garden!
4) Environmental Benefits
Following on from point 3), because chemicals haven't been used and less fuel is used to transport the vegetables, you're reducing the overall emissions and other pollution associated with growing those vegetables. This means you have better environmental outcomes if you grow your own vegetables
5) Stress Relief
Spending time in my garden is a great distraction from the busy world around me. Whether it's pulling weeds, digging the garden, planting seeds or harvesting vegetables, it's all a great stress relief activity. Time in nature has proven mental health benefits, so even if you have only a small area to garden, its a reason to get outside and enjoy nature.
These are only my top five reasons to grow your own vegetables, but I hope I’ve convinced you to give it a try. If you are wondering where to even start, I’ve written an eBook for beginners called “Grow Your Own Vegetables”. I want to give you a headstart with all the information I wish I had known before I started my first vegetable garden over 10 years ago. This eBook will help you avoid the costly mistakes and get you producing vegetables as quickly as possible, so you can enjoy all the benefits I’ve listed in this article.
Link to eBook
BIO: Liz Beavis has been growing her own vegetables since 2008 in three different locations in Queensland Australia. She has started gardens, farmed worms, gathered manure and saved seeds and found the best ways to grow her own vegetables using organic methods and with low input costs. She is also a Chemical Engineer PhD and studied for a certificate in Sustainable Agriculture with Nutritech Systems in 2012. Liz lives on 258 acres with her husband, three dogs and various chickens and cattle. She is passionate about growing her own food and encouraging others to increase their self-reliance and reduce their impact.