Know Thy Family: Growing What You Eat

Z and my husband making dinner. Always on the garden plan? Cherry tomatoes and greens!

My husband used to joke that I would not be satisfied until I had achieved total vertical integration of our food supply. While this was my dream some time ago, my thinking has evolved to five key garden planning principles, which I call the garden commandments: 

  1. Know Thy Land
  2. Know Thy Family
  3. Know Thyself
  4. Know Thy Community
  5. Know Thy Purpose

Today's discussion focuses on knowing one's family (even if it just you) and what you actually eat by studying your grocery lists and then studying what is realistic for you to grow in the coming season. For the undertaking of this critical planning exercise, I have created this handy Growing What You Eat Worksheet to support your thinking and planning.

The text thread between my husband and me, "Honey can you pick the following up from the store?"

I have the advantage of having a years-long text thread with my husband that almost exclusively contains grocery lists. While there are a few cute pics of the kids and links to interesting or funny articles and videos, mainly there is evidence of what we feast on weekly and seasonally. I found the exercise of studying these lists helpful and supportive and I hope you do too.

Once you have your list of the produce you typically purchase take some time to consider which you eat most often and which you have the most interest in growing. This will allow you to move through the process of stack-ranking the produce you want to grow this year from most to least and support your thinking about which seeds to start in the coming months so you can be ready to transplant them after the last frost of the season.

If you choose to, you can take the exercise one step further. If you are like me and stockpile more seeds than you can grow, you likely have many of the seeds on hand and catalog what you have from the list. If you don't have the seeds, creating a list upfront can keep you from over-buying once you enter all of those beautiful and tempting seed catalogs. A final gardening-nerd step you might take would be to consider how much a packet of seeds--if grown well--might save you in food costs over the summer and beyond. Inflation being what it currently is today, I just might take this on for a future post on saving money through the garden.

I would love to see what others are choosing to grow this year and about your learning along the way. Please post in the comment below! Happy almost spring!

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