Last Updated on August 5, 2020
Never gardened but think growing your own food sounds fun? (Not to mention great for saving on groceries.) Getting started is SO much easier than you think!
If you think you have to know a ton about gardening before you get started, please think again!
Growing your own food is way easier than you might think, often as simple as poking a few seeds in the dirt. And it doesn’t have to cost you a thing if you know some tricks to getting free supplies.
Here are some simple ways to get started growing your own food this season. Just jump in and find out how simple it is to raise your own delicious homegrown vegetables!
*Check out the FREE guide for newbie gardeners to find out more!*
Growing Your Own Food: Easy Early Greens
If you’re not a gardener (yet!) but think some homegrown greens sound like a nice way to welcome the change in seasons, you can start with nothing more than a pot and some potting soil. Pick out some seeds at your local garden center or grab a few extra from a gardening friend.
Early planting options include radishes, lettuce, spinach, arugula, or other greens. Then just follow the planting instructions on the packet, which will tell you how deep and how far apart to plant the seed.*
These early crops have the added bonus of taking very little time to mature, and you can be harvesting baby greens in just a few weeks. Here’s a more complete list of fast growing vegetables. You have little to lose, and you might find that it’s so enjoyable that you want to expand your efforts later in the season to include some pots of herbs and tomatoes, which can take just a little more know-how.
In addition to arugula, lettuce, and spinach for salads, I love to grow lots of kale for use in soups, salads, and for kale chips. A nutritional powerhouse, kale is very easy to grow and has a long season. (And is far more versatile than you might imagine — check out these creative and delicious uses for kale.)
*Seed packets will probably give spacing for row gardeners, but don’t worry about that. If it says final spacing should be four inches apart, just space all the seeds four inches from each other in a grid.
Don’t bother planting closer and thinning; you can just use the final spacing and avoid wasting seeds. Better not to overcrowd your pot anyway. You can find more details in Get Growing!
Related: You might already be growing edibles you mistook for weeds. Find out which wild plants are growing in our yard right now!
Growing Your Own Food: Low-Maintenance Fruit
Or start looking around your yard for an unused, sunny place you might pop in a fruit tree or some fruiting shrubs when the ground warms up a little more. Fruit trees and bushes are the ultimate in easy green — plant ’em, make sure they have enough water, and enjoy the delicious fruits of your minimal labor. Plus, the blossoms are beautiful.
I can’t say enough good things about serviceberries (despite their odd name), which come in shrub and tree form, are gorgeous and low-maintenance, and produce amazing amounts of blueberry-like fruits, without the fussy requirements of blueberry plants (which I have never succeeded in growing). My plum and apple trees have also tolerated quite a bit of neglect splendidly.
If you love the health benefits of elderberries, consider growing some of your own. Elderberries make great hedges, grow well in poor soil and part shade, and give two crops, elderberries and elderflowers. You can also easily forage elderberries, which grow wild over much of the globe. Here are more than 20 uses for elderberries once you’re harvesting your own.
–> Read more: Why You’ll LOVE Growing Your Own Fruit
Rhubarb is one of my favorite landscaping plants, a gorgeous vegetable that pops up year after year with no effort on my part. And you can use it to make fabulous desserts! (Check out these easy recipes for homemade fruit leather made from rhubarb and rhubarb crisp — YUM!) Here’s how to grow rhubarb.
Perennial food plants like these are one of the key ways I get more food out of my tiny yard without putting in much time or effort. Read more about ways to get more food from your yard here. Here’s a quickstart guide to using permaculture principles to create an edible food forest to harvest more food with less labor.
What would you like to grow this season?
Celebrate the season by treating yourself to a few seed packets. Or ask a friend who gardens for some seeds to get you started — few of us need all 200 seeds that come in an average packet of lettuce.
–>Related: How to Get Free Plants for Your Garden
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Susannah is a proud garden geek and energy nerd who loves healthy food and natural remedies. Her work has appeared in Mother Earth Living, Ensia, Northern Gardener, Sierra, and on numerous websites. Her first book, Everything Elderberry, released in September 2020 and has been a #1 new release in holistic medicine, naturopathy, herb gardening, and other categories. Find out more and grab your copy here.