Living Close to Nature

Monika Rakowski Monika Rakowski

The top 5 reasons to grow your own food this year

Spring is here and the sun is shining more often, which means many of us are spending time in our gardens. While choosing between flowers, herbs, fruits and vegetables, I'd like to encourage you to plant plenty of your own food this year. Even if you only grow one tomato plant, there are many reasons to grow at least some of your own food. Here are my top five: 1. Food from the garden tastes better. Aside from the many health-related and socially responsible reasons to grow your own food, fruits and veggies from the garden simply taste better. They are juicier and sweeter than anything you will ever buy at the grocery store. There is nothing like eating a tomato ripe off the vine and warm from the sun, the juice drizzling down your chin. A sweet onion will never be as sweet as one grown in your garden. You may even find that you like veggies you had previously written off, because they are sweeter when grown in your soil. 2. Food from the garden is healthier. The nutrient and mineral content of garden-grown veggies is much higher than anything in the grocery store, which will heal and prevent many medical issues. Food picked ripe from the vine is full of digestive enzymes that help you digest your food properly. Food from the grocery store has been irradiated, or zapped in a big microwave to kill these enzymes so they don't spoil as quickly, adding unnecessary stress to your body. You will control which pesticides are used, if any. You will decide if you grow GMO or organic. The quality of your food is in your hands. 3. Growing your food will save you money. The cost of living is rising, including the cost of food. Sure, you can spend a fortune on your garden, but you can also use sustainable gardening methods that are close to free. By using practices such as composting, mulching with wood chips, and saving seeds, you can eat delicious healthy food that only costs you the time it takes to grow them. 4. Growing your own food is good for the environment. There is a movement to buy local for good reason. Buying local reduces our dependence on fossil fuels and eliminates the pollution created when transporting our produce. There's nothing more local than your backyard. 5. Spending time in the garden connects you to nature. I'm convinced the worst bad day can be cured by spending time in the garden. Putting your hands in the dirt and feeling sunshine on your skin boosts your mood. Gardening quiets your mind and grounds you. If you watch closely, nature will reveal valuable life lessons while you watch your plants grow. Gardening connects you to your food, to nature and to yourself. So while choosing your seeds and starts this year, try a few new vegetables you haven't grown before. Your body, spirit, wallet and the planet will thank you.

Monica Rakowski is one of the owners of KP Indoor Garden Store in Key Center.  She can be contacted at