Every week we bring you a new, simple idea for reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet. This week, we look at the many benefits of growing your own veg.
Getting your five-a-day is great for your health, and also a good way to eat a plant-based diet, which is one essential part of tackling climate change. However, the fruit and veg we buy in supermarkets is often wrapped in copious amounts of plastic, has been grown using chemical pesticides, and has been transported long distances, which means a lot of CO2 has been pumped into the atmosphere before you even reach for the chopping board.
There are a lot of ways you can avoid these environmental nasties. Buying loose produce, visiting your local farmer’s market and choosing organic are obvious steps, but have you ever considered growing you own veg? Here are five quick reasons why you should:
1. A lower carbon footprint
According to the Worldwatch Institute, food travels an average of 1,500 miles before it gets to your plate. Popping outside to gather some produce from your garden, on the other hand, involves exactly zero emissions.
2. No need for plastic
Supermarkets are finally taking some steps to eradicate plastic packaging from their shelves, but progress is frustratingly slow and the need to keep some produce fresh means plastic is likely to continue existing in some shape or form for a while yet. Produce grown at home, however, is the definition of fresh and plastic free.
3. It’s better for bees
Legislation might have banned chemicals that are harmful to pollinators, but scientists still have concerns that their replacements are no safer. Not only does growing your own produce help provide a thriving garden for bees and other wildlife, doing so means you have complete control over the practices you use to grow your food so the vegetables are chemical free.
4. It’s cost effective
Unfortunately, fruit and veg brandishing selling points such as ‘local’ or ‘organic’ can often be more expensive than the plastic-wrapped stuff flown in from other countries. Growing your own can prove an inexpensive way of enjoying high quality produce.
5. It’s good for you
We’re not just talking about getting your five-a-day, either. Gardening is a great way to combat stress and anxiety, so it’s good for your mental health – and of course, getting active in the fresh air is good for your physical health, too.
How to start growing a vegetable garden
Growing your own fruit and vegetables might seem like a daunting prospect – especially if you’re the type that struggles to keep a regular houseplant alive! The trick is to start slowly, with simple and easy-to-care-for plants such as tomatoes, beetroots or runner beans. You could even start with a simple herb garden to get started. The Royal Horticultural Society has tonnes of helpful information and advice, and even offers a free ’grow your own’ app that breaks down the veg-growing process into super simple steps based on your knowledge and experience.
How to grow vegetables without a garden
No garden? No problem! A lot of plants grow surprisingly well in pots, making them ideal for windowsills or baskets. Tomatoes, peppers and spring onions all do wonderfully in indoor tubs, for example. Or, if you’re really keen to go big, consider applying for a space on a local allotment – gov.uk’s allotment finder will point you in the right direction.
Growing your own fruit and veg brings so many benefits. It might take a bit of practice to begin with, but the pay-off – for the planet, your pocket, your health and of course your taste buds! – means it’s well worth the effort taking the time to develop green fingers.
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