Four of the 10 leading causes of death in America (heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes) have been linked to diet.
Eating more fruits and vegetables can help to reduce your risk of developing these chronic diseases. And growing your own fruits and vegetables at home is handy and less costly.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a yard or garden area, if you live in an apartment, or if you have issues with getting around. Container gardening is the answer. Here is a very brief step-by-step guide to start your own container garden:
1. Choose what you would like to grow– good container crops are tomatoes, carrots, beets, kale, peppers, eggplant, green onions, okra, beans, lettuce, squash, radishes and parsley. Read each seed packet to see when they should be planted in your area and for other tips about the amount of moisture and light needed for that particular vegetable.
2. Use potting mix instead of potting soil– it is free of disease and weeds, holds moisture and nutrients, drains well and is lightweight.
3. Decide on a container– almost any container will work, as long as it can drain out water and is large enough for your plant. Examples of great containers are a milk jug, your potting mix bag, an old shoe, a coffee can, or a small trash can. Make sure to poke holes in the bottom of non-porous containers so excess water can drain out. If you have mobility issues, you may want to choose a smaller container that is more portable or buy a plant stand that has wheels on the bottom.
4. Plant your seeds or seedlings– if you purchase seeds, you will have to start them in starter pots or egg carton sections and then transplant them to your chosen container when the second set of leaves appears. Refer to each seed packet for how to deep to plant your seeds. If you choose to start your plants from seedlings, simply place them into your container of potting mix and lightly cover the root area with soil.
5. Sprinkle water your plants 2-3 times a week at first, then water as needed by checking the top inch of soil for dryness.
6. Make sure your plants get 6-8 hours of sunlight each day – you may have to move your container during the day to different areas in order to get more light (from back to front porch, etc.) or choose a location where your container gets adequate sunlight every day.
7. When your vegetables are ripe, harvest and enjoy.
And, remember- you can use your Lone Star/SNAP benefits to buy fruit and vegetable seeds or seedlings at the grocery store.