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cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, green onions

New Vegetable Gardener — Why You Should Plant Your Own Vegetables?

Usually when I ask for answers to this question, I hear that there isn’t enough time or space to grow my own vegetables. But with the current “Stay at Home” order to aid in social distancing, there is plenty of time and with more information, you may find that there is more space around your home than you imagined to grow vegetables.

Growing your own vegetables has been a popular pastime. According to Good Housekeeping and AARP, gardening burns calories, lowers blood pressure, helps you eat healthier, relieves stress, is good for your bones and can make you happier. I have experienced mental relaxation, exercise, I get to grow vegetables that are not available at the grocery store, it promotes food safety/security to know how my vegetable were grown (pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) because I grew them, and best of all, home grown vegetable taste better than grocery store vegetables because I can harvest the vegetables at their peak of ripeness.

Growing your own food provides you a sense of independence. Recently, the grocery store shelves have been a little bare. Some of your favorite vegetables have not been readily available. What if you had those treasured vegetables growing right outside your kitchen door? You would have less dependence on other sources.

There are a lot of steps to get our garden ready to grow vegetables, and if you are a newcomer to Central Florida, growing vegetables is a little (maybe a lot) different than where you came from. If you had good gardening skills there, then they will help you here. You need to garden using a different calendar than you are accustomed to.

The vegetable gardening season for Central Florida starts in late-August to early-September with “warm season” vegetables. Always leave some room in your garden for the “cool season” vegetables that will be planted in late-October to early-November. Most “warm season” crops will be finished by the second week of December (our average first frost date), so you can continue growing “cool season” crops up to the end of February (after our average last frost date). Then in early-May, we plant out our last “warm season” crops for the end of the vegetable gardening season that wraps up about the second week of June (beginning of the rainy season).

How sustainable is our current food system? Why worry if you are growing your own vegetables? You probably can’t grow all the vegetables you like in Florida but you can reduce your dependency on the grocery store by growing many of the vegetables you like.

Growing your own food develops self-reliance and independence. It is an activity for the whole family. And under current social distancing guidelines, it is going to keep you even more healthy.