Sustainable Living for Gulf Coast Families

Cherry Tomatoes

Living along the Gulf Coast of Florida, we have multitudes of vegetation that would grow in our yards without much work. We don’t have to beĀ  gardening experts to plant a tree in a sunny spot in our yards and watch it grow. This year, my whole family experienced the thrill of picking beautiful ripe, juicy oranges off the tree in our backyard. All it took was this one time of having fruit available whenever we needed some to inspire me to plant some more fruit trees and begin the venture towards a more self-sustaining lifestyle.

Why Go More Self-Sustaining?

You’ve probably noticed that food prices are going up. If you’ve been reading about food quality, you are aware of what is being done to the foods we eat. And, we are partly responsible for our family’s health. Juicing in a juice machine is a great way to give good health to picky eaters. If you juice a few days a week though, you know how many fruits and vegetables it takes. I buy lots of raw food and as much as possible, I buy organic. So, instead of always buying from the stores, why not have some available in our own yards? The soil will be supplied with vital nutrients and the food will be pesticide free. We can even choose to grow natural heirloom plants rather than strange hybrid varieties that may be harmful to our health. So with the arrival of spring here, now is the perfect time to start planning. Here on the Gulf Coast, it is not too difficult to have something edible producing at all times. Below are some ideas of things to plant this season to get a more self-sustaining lifestyle started.

What Should I Plant?

Did you know you can eat many of the flowers you will plant this Spring? Flowers are a great way to add color, but don’t forget you can eat many of them. They are great in teas, soups and salads.

  • Edible flowers– marigolds-but not all varieties; only Calendula officinalis, roses, pansies, zinnias, daylilies, honeysuckles, camelias, hibiscus, geraniums, gladiolus, and orange blossoms.

Try planting these yummy fruits. It’s strawberry season here on the coast and blueberry and blackberry season is coming this summer- get ready for homemade pies loaded with antioxidants!

  • Fruit – blueberries, blackberries, grapes and strawberries, watermelons, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes and avocados

There are many great vegetables for planting this season. Peppers are a favorite for eating raw, in salads or sauteed in meals. Cherry tomatoes are easy to grow and are great added to salads. Start planting!

  • Vegetables- sweet peas, squash, peppers, corn, pole beans, cucumbers and tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are relatively easy to grow in pots.

If it sounds impossible or too time consuming to have an edible yard, it’s really not. Make square foot or circle garden plots. Plant in pots. Use compost bins, mulch and maybe a rain barrel. Try xeriscaping to cut out mowing time that could be put towards gardening time. Creating an urban homestead or a more self-sustaining lifestyle is something the whole family can enjoy working towards together. Is your yard edible? Let us know if you have any other stories or tips to share!

Flickr flower salad photo by Sancho Papa and tomatoes by gmnonic

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